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Photos by Paul Hokanson
Hamburg, N.Y., native Rob Golabek has had plenty to shout about with his record-setting career at UB.
Rob Golabek is one of the best throwers in the nation. The 2010-11 UB Athlete of the Year (along with women’s basketball star Kourtney Brown, BS ’10) is the reigning MAC champion in shot put in both the indoor and the outdoor track and field seasons, and holds the UB record in that event.
He earned first-team All-America honors last year after finishing eighth in shot put at the NCAA National Championships. Shortly thereafter, he again set the Bulls record with a throw of 63 feet, 9.5 inches at USATF Nationals where he placed 12th overall and second among collegiate entrants.
“I tell myself every day I’m going to be UB’s first national champion.”Rob Golabek
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named Golabek its Northeast Region Field Athlete of the Year in both the indoor and the outdoor seasons. Not bad for a guy who was cut his freshman season when the team had ample throwers. Now a senior, the Hamburg, N.Y., native is poised to continue his success, which he hopes will include defending his MAC titles, becoming the first Bull to win a national title, and earning a spot at U.S. Olympic Team Trials, scheduled for late June in Eugene, Ore.
They’re lofty goals, but Golabek says he was influenced early on by a Western New York Olympian, Steve Mesler, who won gold with the U.S. bobsled team at the 2010 Winter Olympics. In high school, Mesler was coached by UB men’s track and field coach Jim Garnham Sr. “He said, ‘If your goals don’t scare you, they’re not high enough,’” Golabek recalls of a meeting with Mesler.
In February, Golabek won the shot put at the Cornell Upstate Challenge with a throw of 62-5.75, which broke a more than 30-year-old Barton Hall record.
Liz Scott loves to color and loves decorating her room. For her, there’s enjoyment in creating something new and exciting. That same thinking, it could be said, is what lured the Canandaigua, N.Y., native to UB, when instead she could have gone to one of several powerhouse programs that recruited her, including Duke, LSU and Temple.
Scott chose Buffalo because she wanted to be a part of a new tradition of success with UB women’s volleyball. She’s certainly doing her part, earning a nod on the All-MAC Freshman Team following a fantastic fall season. Scott finished second on the team in kills (280) and led the Bulls with a .252 hitting percentage. She ranked third in digs (176) and service aces (23).
“There are many young and talented players in our conference, so I am very proud to be recognized among them,” Scott says.
She’s also proud to be a Bull. “Instead of maintaining the tradition, I wanted to create it. I wanted to go to a school because of the people that were there, not the name itself. My goal is to be a part of building the volleyball program and creating traditions for many other teams to follow in the future,” she says.
Among the season highlights, Scott includes the Bulls’ victory over Bowling Green on Nov. 4, which gave head coach Todd Kress his 300th career win.
UB Athletics Director Warde Manuel accepted the AD job at the University of Connecticut on Feb. 13. Manuel, who came to UB in July 2005, received plenty of praise for his successes, which included increased academic performance among UB student-athletes and the football team’s 2008 MAC title. UB President Satish K. Tripathi said of Manuel, “Warde’s selection to lead one of the nation’s top Division I programs reflects the national reputation he has achieved through his outstanding leadership and impressive achievements here at UB.”
No doubt Branden “Bo” Oliver caused many sleepless nights for defensive coordinators across the MAC. The 5-foot-8, 200-pound sophomore running back from Miami, Fla., shredded defenses with relative ease during a record-setting 2011 campaign for which he earned first-team All-MAC honors.
Oliver stands atop the UB record books as the single-season leader in rushing yards (1,395), attempts (306), all-purpose yards (1,760) and 100- yard rushing games (eight). Two of those records— rushing yards and all-purpose yards—were held by James Starks, BA ’10, who helped the Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl XLV in 2011.
Oliver also broke the Bulls’ Division I-A record with a 235-yard rushing performance Nov. 19 against Akron, a 51-10 UB victory. For his effort, Oliver was named one of six “Helmet Sticker” recipients chosen from across the nation by ESPN “College Football Final” show hosts Rece Davis, Lou Holtz and Mark May.
Oliver and fellow sophomore Khalil Mack—also a first-team MAC selection—were honored by the Touchdown Club of Columbus on Feb. 11 as two of six MAC “players to watch” in 2012.
The statistics are staggering, a telling indication of the tremendous turnaround the women’s soccer team achieved this past fall.
In 2010, the Bulls had an overall record of 1-16- 2 and were winless in the MAC. But in 2011, UB finished 12-5-4 overall (4-3-4 MAC). The Bulls advanced to the MAC semifinals, falling to eventual conference champion Toledo 3-1.
What changed? The players made a commitment to be better. “It changed at 7 a.m. last February,” head coach Michael Thomas says, referring to the team’s offseason practice start time. “We didn’t do anything different. We just did it harder and did it better.”
The Bulls strive to win the MAC each year, thereby earning a berth in the NCAA tournament. “It wasn’t the dream ending we wanted,” Thomas says of 2011, “but it was a magical ride for a while.”
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Another remarkable resurgence occurred in the Alumni Arena pool, where the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have achieved great success, including a top 25 ranking in November.
The UB men won their first MAC title in 2011. Head coach Andy Bashor says that title was huge because it challenged the squad to repeat the feat in 2012 (the men’s and women’s MAC Championships began after press time).
Seniors Alie Schirmers and Brynn Marecki have been key contributors for the UB women, who went from placing eighth at the MAC championships in 2008 to fifth in 2011. Senior Jared Heine and juniors Matt Schwippert, Matt Hogan and Josh Meints, and senior diver Colin Patrican have been stars for the men’s team.
David J. Hill is a staff writer in UB’s Office of University Communications.
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