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After 42 seasons as a college football coach, Kent State assistant Dave McMichael announced his retirement last Friday. McMichael served as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach for the Golden Flashes since joining the program in 2011.
"I would like to express my sincere gratitude to (Golden Flashes head coach) Paul Haynes, the coaches I've worked with and the wonderful players I've had the privilege of coaching," McMichael said. "After careful thought, I made the difficult decision to accept an infrequently occurring University separation program. Retirement will enable me to spend more quality time with my family."
McMichael's coaching career began as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Bowling Green, in 1975. His tenure included 19 seasons at West Virginia under Don Nehlen.
"It has been a blessing for my family and me to spend this time at Kent State, culminating a coaching career of over 40 years," McMichael added. "I wish nothing but the best for the Kent State football program."
McMichael was hired by Flashes head coach Darrell Hazell in 2011, then retained by Haynes when he took over the program beginning with the 2013 season.
"We appreciate Dave, (wife) Karen and (son) John for being a part of our Kent State football family," Haynes said. "He has meant so much to this team and this profession. He has devoted his life to building young men. College football is going to miss a great ambassador of the game. We appreciate his time and friendship and wish him luck in retirement."
McMichael, a native of Kettering, has been on the sideline for 16 bowl games and directly coached 11 NFL signees.
Kent State's Maddy Grimm (softball) and Danniel Thomas (track and field) have been selected as nominees for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year award. They are among a record 543 female college athletes nominated by NCAA member schools for this year's award across all three NCAA divisions. They each received the 2017 Janet Bachna Award presented to the KSU senior female student-athlete who displays athletic, academic and leadership excellence.
Grimm, the top hitter in Flashes softball history, earned 2017 Fastpitch News Honorable Mention All-America honors and was an NFCA All-Mideast Region selection all four seasons, including three straight First Team nods. This past season she was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year after setting the conference record for walks (49), breaking her own school single-season record for RBI (55), and matching her single-season home run record (19).
Grimm finished her Kent State career as the MAC all-time leader in walks (133), and sits second in conference history in runs scored (172), home runs (69), RBI (192) and slugging percentage (.769).
Grimm graduated in May with a degree in exercise science, and was a CoSIDA Academic All-District Second Team selection. She is currently playing professional softball for the Akron Racers, and is batting .375 with a double, two homers and seven RBI in just eight at-bats.
Thomas, a native of Jamaica, was one of 10 semifinalists for The Bowerman award given to the most outstanding track and field student-athlete each season after capturing the shot put national title at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Thomas became the first female national champion in KSU track and field history in dominant fashion, as all six of her throws were good enough to win the competition.
Thomas finished her career as a 10-time All-American with four top-5 national finishes. She was recognized as the 2017 Great Lakes Region Women's Field Athlete of the Year for both the indoor and outdoor seasons, and competed for Jamaica at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.
A 2016 graduate who earned a degree in physical education and was enrolled in Kent State's sport and recreation management graduate program (3.67 GPA), Thomas was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team last week.
The nine finalists for Woman of the Year will be announced in September.
Kent State rising senior Holly Speers was one of 15 athletes named to the Canadian Women's National Team. She was chosen from a 36-athlete pool that participated in Softball Canada's selection camp in Mississauga, Ontario.
The Surrey, B.C. native will make her National Team debut after previously representing her country at the 2013 ISF Junior Women's World Softball Championship and 2015 WBSC Junior Women's World Championship.
Through her first three seasons at Kent State, Speers has established herself as one of the greatest sluggers in program history. The two-time all-conference performer earned All-MAC Tournament Team honors after helping the Flashes capture the MAC Tournament title and advance to the NCAA Tournament this past season for the first time since 2008.
Speers currently sits second in school history in slugging percentage (.612), fourth in home runs (31), sixth in batting average (.319), seventh in on-base percentage (.421) and walks (69), and eighth in RBI (89).
Kent State's connection to Softball Canada goes beyond Speers. Aassistant coach Meaggan Pettipiece competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and served as an alternate for the 2004 Athens Olympics, while Varsity 'K' Hall of Fame inductee Pauline Maurice (1988-91) was a member of Team Canada at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The Canadian Women's National Team begins competition with an exhibition series against the two-time defending National Pro Fastpitch champion Chicago Bandits on June 30 and July 1, followed by the World Cup of Softball from July 5-9. The team will then head to Speers' hometown of Surrey to compete in the Canada Cup from July 11-17 before returning to the United States to take on the Akron Racers and Grimm on July 31 and Aug. 1.
The WBSC Pan American Women's Softball Championship is scheduled to take place Aug. 4-13, then the team will travel overseas to compete in the Japan Cup from Aug. 25-28.
TRACK AND FIELD
Thomas won the shot put and qualified for the World Championships with a throw of 18.80 meters at the 2017 Jamaican Championships. She won the event by nearly three meters and cleared the qualifying mark for the World Championships by almost a full meter.
The IAAF World Championships will take place in London beginning Aug. 5.
Former Kent State teammate Reggie Jagers finished seventh in the discus at the 2017 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a throw of 58.65 meters that was second among collegiate athletes.
Earlier in the month Jagers finished third at the NCAA National Championships with a school-record toss of 62.51 meters.
Riak Reese also represented the Flashes on the USA stage, competing in the 100 meters and 200 meters. Reese claimed 28th overall in the 100 (10.34), and placed 22nd in the 200 (20.99).
Former Field High School star Clark Bookman represented KSU in the junior events, competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Bookman finished sixth in his race with a time of 9:43.71, beating athletes from Florida, Buffalo and New Hampshire.
Former Kent State star hurler Eric Lauer made his debut in the AA Texas League on Sunday, just over a year after being selected in the first round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft by the San Diego Padres, and promptly tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings.
Lauer, a lefty from Elyria who was named national player of the year following his junior season with the Flashes in 2016 after posting the lowest ERA in Division I baseball since 1979 (0.69), scattered seven hits and did not walk a batter while striking out nine in San Antonio's 1-0 victory over Northwest Arkansas.
Lauer earned the promotion after compiling a 2.79 ERA in 12 starts for Class A Lake Elsinore, with 19 walks and 84 strikeouts in 67 2/3 frames.
The following Kent State men and women earned MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete honors for the spring 2017 season:
Men's Outdoor Track & Field (4): Trevor Detillion, sophomore, 3.433 GPA, Construction Management; TJ Lawson (Stow) sophomore, 3.808, Sports Administration; Walter Petzel, sophomore, 3.916, Construction Management; *Abdul-Nasser Seidu, junior, 3.911, Theatre.
Women's Outdoor Track & Field (11): Lauren Burnett, senior, 3.425 GPA, Public Health/Health Promotions & Ed.; *Morgan Estes, senior, 3.662, Exercise Science; *#Taylor Farquhar, senior, 3.768, Exercise Science; Hannah Fleck, senior, 3.723, Interior Design; *Olivia Gaus, senior, 3.742, Exercise Science; *Rebecca Leppelmeier, senior, 3.965, Computer Science; *#Ada Nicholson-Burley, senior, 3.864, Integrated Mathematics; *#Jorian Ordway, senior, 3.915, Exercise Science; #Danniel Thomas, senior, 3.675, Sport & Recreation Mgmt.; *Sam Tollerud, junior, 4.00, Exercise Science; Tyler Williams, junior, 3.354, Public Health.
Men's Golf (2): Ian Holt (Stow), junior, 3.325 GPA, Business Management; *Chase Johnson (Barberton/Walsh Jesuit), sophomore, 3.47, Marketing.
Women's Golf (2): Michaela Finn, sophomore, 3.41 GPA, Fashion Merchandising; *Wad Phaewchimplee, senior, 3.63, Environmental Geography.
Softball (3): Hunter Brancifort, sophomore, 3.985 GPA, Finance; Emily Dobbin, junior, 3.649, Integrated Health Studies; *#Maddy Grimm, senior, 3.578, Exercise Science.
Baseball (4): Luke Burch, senior, 3.516 GPA, Sport & Recreation Management; *Mason Mamarella, junior, 3.677, Marketing; Jared Skolnicki, junior, 3.942, Actuarial Mathematics; *Zach Willeman, junior, 3.965, Physical Education.
*2015-16 Distinguished Scholar-Athlete; #2014-15 Distinguished Scholar-Athlete.