2016-17 CLEVELAND STATE ATHLETICS TOP-10 MOMENTS
With a lineup that featured two juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen, Cleveland State was the last team standing at the Horizon League Championship to claim the first title in program history.
After an opening round 319 put CSU in fourth place, the Vikings carded a tournament-low round of 302 during the second round to vault into first place by one shot after 36 holes. Four teams – CSU, Northern Kentucky, Youngstown State and Oakland – were within four shots of the lead heading into the final 18 holes and traded the top spot of the leaderboard throughout the day.
Ellie Cronin and Emily Turski both shot 77 on the final day and Kaylee Neumeister's dramatic eagle on the par-five, 18th hole solidified CSU's lead. And when Rayna Oosterhuis came in with birdies on three of her final seven holes, it allowed the Vikings to clinch the League title by three shots over YSU.
Oosterhuis put together a strong three days with rounds of 74-74-75 (223) to finish as the individual runner-up and earn a spot on the all-tournament team. Her first two rounds of 74 were career-low rounds as she posted her best finish at CSU.
Neumeister, who was named to the All-Horizon League first team, was sixth overall at the League tournament, while Cronin tied for 11th place. Turski, who shot an opening round 91, rebounded with a career-low round of 75 and 77 over the final two rounds to tie for 20th place. Junior Sophie Kelner, who was voted to the all-league second team, tied for 27th place.
The Vikings were selected to compete in the NCAA Columbus Regional after capturing the Horizon League's automatic bid. CSU finished the 2016-17 season with a single season school record scoring average of 317.2, breaking the old mark by three shots.
In addition, the Vikings won two events this year and had the second lowest round in school history with a 301 in the final round of the EKU Colonel Classic.
Cleveland State's reign over the Horizon League continued in 2017 as the Vikings won their fourth straight League title and eighth in the last 12 seasons to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA regionals.
The Vikings led the League tournament from start to finish, carding rounds of 294-302-291 to earn a seven shot victory over runner-up Oakland.
Sophomore Anton Krecic claimed medalist honors at the League tournament to lead the Vikings, defeating Horizon League Player of the Year Ryan Wenzler of Wright State in a playoff. Krecic shot rounds of 71-75-69 (215) and won the playoff on the second hole. He became the seventh player in program history to win the individual title at the League championship.
Senior Patrick Luth finished sixth overall at the League tournament with rounds of 73-76-72 (221) and became the first player in program history to play in the NCAA regionals four times. Luth's scoring average of 72.7 this year was the second lowest for a season in program history, while his career average of 75.1 is sixth best in CSU history.
Junior Joey Krecic tied for 10th place at the League championship, while junior Blake Prince was 13th and sophomore Nick Infanti tied for 21st.
CSU was selected to compete in the NCAA West Lafayette Regional, finishing 13th at the Kampen Course.
The Cleveland State volleyball team continued its dominance of the Horizon League by winning its second straight tournament title in November.
After going 14-2 in the League and claiming the top seed in the League tournament, the Vikings earned five set wins over Oakland and Green Bay to capture the Horizon League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Junior Alexis Middlebrooks was named the tournament MVP for the second straight season after posting 35 kills and six blocks, while hitting .353 in the two tournament wins. She had 20 kills in the championship match vs. Green Bay.
Juniors Gina Kilner and Shannon Grega joined Middlebrooks on the all-tournament team. Kilner led the Vikings to a .224 hitting percentage, dishing out 101 assists with 16 digs in the two matches, while Grega posted 17 digs in both the semifinal and championship matches.
Senior Grace Kauth led the Vikings throughout the regular season en route to earning Horizon League Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors. Middlebrooks and Kilner joined Kauth on the all-league first team, while Aaliyah Slappy was an honorable mention all-league. Sara Skeens was tabbed the Horizon League Co-Freshman of the Year. Chuck Voss was voted the Co-Coach of the Year.
CSU fell to Arizona in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the fourth time that the Vikings have earned an NCAA berth.
The 2016 season marked the second straight year that the Vikings claimed the Horizon League regular season and tournament crowns. Over the last two years, CSU has combined to go 51-13 overall and 27-5 in Horizon League matches.
Philipp Sikatzki, the most-decorated swimmer in program history, concluded his brilliant career with his second straight trip to the NCAA Championships where he competed in three events.
Competing at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Sikatzki finished 42nd in the 50 free with a career-best time of 19.85, 20th in the 100 fly in 45.99 and 35th in the 100 free with a time of 43.52.
He was the only athlete to finish among the top 40 in the 100 fly that did not hail from a school in a Power Five conference.
Sikatzki was the Horizon League Men's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year and Men's Swimmer of the Meet at the League Championship. He became the first individual in League history to earn Men's Athlete of the Year in back-to-back seasons.
Over the course of his three-year career at CSU, Sikatzki won eight individual titles at the Horizon League Championships. The first athlete in program history to earn first team All-America honors (2016), Sikatzki leaves CSU as the owner of school records in five individual events. Along with his teammates, he also holds school records in four different relay disciplines.
In addition, Sikatzki was selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team for his 3.93 cumulative grade point average as a health sciences/pre-med major with a double minor in biology and chemistry.
Junior Nick Corba finished second at 184 pounds at the EWL Championships and earned one of five at-large bids in the weight class to the NCAA Championships.
At nationals, Corba dropped his first match, but showed tremendous resolve in winning each of his next two matches, claiming a major decision and a pin to advance to the second day of competition.
Corba's first win at the NCAA Championships was a 13-2 major decision over Villie Heino of Campbell who was ranked among the top-15 by various outlets entering the championships. In his second consolation match of the day – and his third match on day one – Corba earned a victory over fellow EWL competitor Michale Fagg-Daves of Rider with a fall in 1:38.
It was the first fall by a Viking grappler at the NCAA Championships since 2005.
Corba's run at the NCAA Championships came to an end against ninth-seeded Nathan Jackson of Indiana on day two, just two wins shy of earning All-American status. Corba became the first Vikings to post two bonus-point wins at an NCAA Championship since 1995.
Corba finished the season with a career-high 25 wins, including 15 bonus-point victories.
The men's lacrosse team hosted Michigan for the inaugural game in program history on Feb. 4 in the Krenzler Dome in front of a sold out crowd.
The Vikings began their existence as the 71st Division I program in the country by scoring the opening goal of the game off the stick of midfielder Nick Wendel just 3:23 into the contest, giving CSU a 1-0 lead.
CSU would fall to Michigan, 13-8, and would go on to play five ranked teams over the course of the season, including top-ranked Denver (Feb. 25) and Penn State (March 25).
The Vikings finished the inaugural season with five wins, including a 13-6 win over Detroit Mercy at Krenzler Field in the season finale, marking the first win over a Division I team for the program.
For the second straight season, the Cleveland State women's tennis team clinched a share of the 2017 Horizon League regular season title, posting an 8-1 mark in League play.
It marked the third time out of the last four years that the Vikings captured at least a share of the regular season crown (2014, 2016, 2017).
Seniors Victoria Bensimon and Princess Gbadamosi, junior Aleksandra Golawska and freshman Blanche Lenoan all went 7-2 in League play this year to lead the squad to the regular season title.
Bensimon and Isabella Spindler were both named to the All-Horizon League second team for their efforts. Bensimon went 20-15 this year and finished her career with a 28-4 record in Horizon League regular season singles matches. Spindler, CSU's No. 1 player for a majority of the year, earned a spot on the all-league second team for the second straight season.
Competing at the Horizon League Track and Field Championship for the first time in program history, the Vikings best finish at the championship came from sophomore Alexandria Derkacs who finished second in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:03.43.
The personal best time allowed Derkacs to earn second team All-Horizon League honors and bettered her time in the prelims by two seconds.
Derkacs, who transferred to CSU from Notre Dame College, was competing in her first season at the Division I level and was named the team's Rookie of the Year.
Junior cross country runner Karen Barrientos earned first team All-Horizon League honors with a fifth place finish at the Horizon League Championship on Oct. 29 in Milwaukee.
Barrientos finished the 6K race with a time of 22:10, becoming the first runner to earn first team all-league honors under head coach Joe Jaketic. Her fifth place finish was also the best finish by a Viking under Jaketic.
Her time of 22:10 was the fastest 6K time in program history.
Barrientos was CSU's top finisher in all eight races in 2016 and posted five top-10 finishes (LHU Invitational-1st, Friendship Invitational-5th, Horizon League Championship-5th, Storm Invitational-6th, Jenna Strong Fall Classic-6th) during her first season at CSU.
The Cleveland State men's tennis team earned the sixth and final seed in the Horizon League tournament, but that didn't stop the Vikings from making a spirited run to the championship match before falling in a thrilling final.
CSU was the first six seed in Horizon League history to make an appearance in the championship match.
The Vikings opened the tournament with a 4-3 win over Green Bay – a team that swept the Vikings in the regular season finale less than one week earlier – as Benjamin Slade clinched the win with a win at No. 3 singles. The following day, CSU upset second-seeded Detroit Mercy, 4-1, to advance to the League championship match for the eighth time in program history.
Facing top-seeded and heavily favored Valparaiso, the Vikings were in a 3-0 hole before singles wins by Kevin Goth (No. 6), Mirko Radosevic (No. 4) and Slade (No. 3) evened the contest at 3-3.
The deciding point came down to No. 5 singles then, with William Malm battling back for a 7-6 (2) tiebreak victory in the second set after dropping the opening frame 6-2. The third and deciding set also went to a tiebreaker, with Malm fighting back from a 5-2 deficit, but coming up just short in a 7-6 (4) tiebreak score.