Another Successful Year For MAC Athletics
The 2012-13 season once again provided another impressive year of performances by the Mid-American Conference athletic programs. From a conference first BCS appearance by Northern Illinois, a conference record seven bowl invitations, a first-ever MAC student-ahtlete selected No. 1 in the NFL draft to a conference best 11 All-Americans in the sport of wrestling and MAC-best 40 wrestlers invited to the NCAA Wrestling Championship, 2012-13 was another memorable season.
In 2012, the MAC set a conference record with seven teams receiving a bowl invitation, including the first ever BCS Bowl invitation with Northern Illinois playing in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, following a thrilling 44-37 double overtime win over Kent State in the 2012 Marathon MAC Football Championship game. The seven MAC programs that were extended bowl invitations included: Toledo (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl); Ball State (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg); Central Michigan (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl); Bowling Green (Military Bowl); Ohio (Advocare V100 Independence Bowl); Northern Illinois (Discover Orange Bowl) and Kent State (GoDaddy.com Bowl).
The 2012 season witnessed four football programs ranked in the top 25 of national polls – Northern Illinois, Kent State, Toledo and Ohio—as the BCS Standings had two MAC programs in the Top 25 at the end of the regular season with No. 15 Northern Illinois and No. 25 Kent State. The MAC also set a conference record for the most wins against FBS opponents with 16 victories. MAC programs were 4-4 against the Big East Conference, including wins over Rutgers, Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida, and three wins against opponents from the Big Ten Conference, including wins over Penn State, Iowa and Indiana. The dramatic 2012 football season was capped as Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher was selected as the first overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2013 NFL Draft, becoming the first football player from the MAC with such an honor.
In men’s basketball, the MAC witnessed Akron reach the FirstEnergy MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament for the seventh consecutive season, as the Zips won their third title in five years. Also, Ohio University earned an invitation to the NIT, while Western Michigan reached the College Basketball Invitational Final Four after wins over North Dakota State and Wyoming. Kent State received an invitation to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and defeated Fairfield in the opening round. Akron center Zeke Marshall and Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper were selected to play in the 2013 Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game, as Cooper garnered MVP game honors.
During the 2012-13 academic year, the University of Akron men’s soccer team won its ninth MAC championship and fifth in the last six years, as the Zips advanced to their fifth consecutive NCAA Round of 16 appearance after defeating Michigan. Akron witnessed senior midfielder Scott Caldwell named as the All-America Scholar Athlete of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy. The MAC had two student-athletes selected in the first round of the 2013 Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft – No. 3 overall Akron goalkeeper David Meyes (Portland Timbers) and No. 12 overall West Virginia defender Eric Schoenle (Philadelphia Union). The MAC also welcomed the addition of West Virginia as an affiliate member in men’s soccer for the 2012-13 academic year.
In wrestling, the MAC welcomed Missouri, Northern Iowa and Old Dominion (2014-15) as affiliate members. Missouri won the 2013 conference tournament title as an affiliate member, snapping Central Michigan’s 11-year reign as champions. The MAC had a conference-best 40 wrestlers earn an invitation to the NCAA Division I National Championship and 11 wrestlers earned All-America status – Central Michigan seniors Ben Bennett, school’s first four-time All-American, and Jarod Trice; Kent State senior Dustin Kilgore, schools first three-time All-American; Missouri’s Alan Waters, Nathan McCormick, Drake Houdashelt, Mike Larson, and Dom Bradley, matching the schools most All-Americans in a single-season; Northern Iowa's David Bonin and Ryan Loder; and Ohio redshirt freshman Cody Walters.
In men’s cross country, Eastern Michigan claimed its 17th conference championship, while the Eagles captured their 31st conference title in men’s swimming and diving. The 31 championship titles for Eastern Michigan in men’s swimming and diving is a conference record. In addition, Eastern Michigan won the program’s 14th conference championship in indoor track and field.
Kent State won the program’s fifth consecutive and 19th overall conference title and received its 26th NCAA appearance. Kent State and Ball State both advanced to the NCAA Men’s Conference Championship, marking only the fifth time since 1983 the conference had two programs advance in the NCAA postseason tournament.
In men’s tennis, Western Michigan won its second consecutive conference championship and tenth title in the last 15 years. In men’s outdoor track and field, Akron won its third consecutive conference title and program’s fifth championship in the last six years. In baseball, Bowling Green won the program’s first conference title since 1999 as the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament.
Women’s athletics continued to shine for the MAC this past year. The MAC had a total of six women’s basketball programs invited to postseason tournaments. Central Michigan claimed the MAC tournament title for the first time since 1984 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, while Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Miami and Toledo all received at-large invitations to the WNIT Tournament. Three MAC programs – Ball State, Bowling Green and Toledo – all reached the WNIT Sweet 16.
In women’s soccer, Miami earned its fourth MAC title in program history and Central Michigan earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, becoming the first team in conference history to earn an at-large bid. Central Michigan fell to Michigan in overtime, 2-1, while Miami defeated Tennessee 3-2 (OT) in the first round of the NCAA tournament and fell to Duke in the second round. Miami senior forward Jess Kodiak was named third team All-America by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Kodiak, along with Katie Slaughter of Central Michigan and Kayla Zakrzewski of Miami, were named All-Great Lakes Region First Team by the NSCAA.
In volleyball, Bowling Green claimed the MAC title for the second time since 1991 and became the first team in program history to win a NCAA Tournament match. The Falcons defeated Yale in the first round, 3-2, and fell to Penn State in the second round. In women’s cross country, Toledo claimed its fifth title in school history in record fashion. The Rockets scored a conference record-low 24 points and have now won three consecutive conference titles for the first time in school history.
In field hockey, Miami won the program’s first conference title in program history, while the RedHawks won the programs 17th conference championship in women’s swimming and diving. In women’s tennis, Miami won the conference championship for the third time in the last five years.
In gymnastics, Central Michigan and Western Michigan claimed share of the conference championship. For Central Michigan it claimed a share of its fourth consecutive championship and for Western Michigan was the programs fourth overall tournament title. Central Michigan and Kent State advanced to the NCAA Regionals.
In women’s indoor track and field, Kent State won its fourth overall conference title and consecutive conference championships for the first time in program history, while the Golden Flashes won the women’s outdoor track and field championship for the fourth consecutive year.
In women’s golf, Kent State won its 15th consecutive conference championship. In softball, Central Michigan won the conference championship for the tenth time in program history. Ball State’s Jennifer Gilbert was named NFCA All-Great Lakes Region First Team, while Macy Merchant was named NFCA All-Great Lakes Region Second Team.