Eagle, Wildcat now hall of famers at Ohio Northern

Jack Jeffrey

The Ohio Northern University Athletic Hall of Fame inducted four new members during ceremonies over Homecoming weekend at the University, including Woodmore graduate Danielle (Noe) Otte and Eastwood grad James O’Brien.
        Otte, now of Maria Stein, Ohio is a 2009 graduate who majored in exercise physiology and competed in track and field. O'Brien, who lives in Carey, Ohio, is also a 2009 graduate who majored in mechanical engineering and competed in both track and field and cross country.
Otte earned numerous national and conference accolades while an ONU student-athlete. She was a three-time national qualifier, once in the 4x400 relay and twice in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing 11th nationally as a hurdler in 2009.
Otte was twice named Academic All-American. Also, she was an Ohio Athletic Conference champion in both the indoor and outdoor 4x400 relay and twice in the 400-meter hurdles. In all, Otte was a 12-time All-OAC selection and the OAC Outdoor Sprinter of the Year as a senior in 2009. Further, she was a member of the indoor and outdoor OAC team champions in 2009.
        She was also recognized by the OAC as the female track athlete of the week.  She completed her indoor track season by leading the ONU women to the league championship for the first time. 
        Otte was named the conference’s Track Athlete of the Week for the week of March 16-22, 2009. She helped the Polar Bears (15-3) finish fourth at the 19-team invite in the 2009 outdoor season opener. She finished second in the 400-meter hurdles in a time of 1:04.5.
        The Northern women's team scored 147 points to win the OAC championship at the Capital Center.
Otterbein finished second with 104½ points and Baldwin-Wallace finished third with 92½ points. 
        In a feature that ran in The Press, Otte told then-ONU sports information director Steven Wright, “I have always been a competitor so not wanting to lose motivates me. In practice, looking forward to making nationals or improving my times motivates me. My teammates help to, you don’t always have a good day at practice and they are always there pushing you to do your best.”
Beyond her track exploits, Otte was a member of the marching band and woodwind ensemble. She was also a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and Phi Epsilon Kappa professional fraternity.
After graduating from ONU, Otte earned a master's degree in occupational therapy from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She has worked as an occupational therapist in Oregon and at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus.
She has also served as assistant coach for the girls' track team at La Crosse (Wis.) High School, which was state runner-up in 2011.
Otte and her husband, Jeff, a 2009 ONU graduate, have two children.
O'Brien was a national-caliber athlete as a runner for the Polar Bears. During his college career, O'Brien was an eight-time track and field All-American, including five times as an outdoor athlete and three times during the indoor season. He was also a two-time cross country All-American and held nine school records upon graduation.
In addition to earning NCAA Division III All-America honors twice in cross country at Ohio Northern, he won the NCAA Division III 800 championship in 2007 and he was the national NCAA D-III 800 indoor champion in 2007 and 2009.
While an ONU student, O'Brien was also active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He remained active after graduating from ONU, running for the Indiana Invaders from 2010-12. He was a three-time USATF national indoor championship qualifier, finishing fourth in 2011, and he also qualified for the outdoor championship once.
O'Brien, 23, nearly broke the Division II state meet record in the 800 as a senior at Eastwood. His 2005 meet-winning time of 1:52.74 was .01 off what was then a six-year-old record.
O'Brien also won a state title as a sophomore, as a member of the Eagles' 4x800 relay team, and he also helped the 4x400 relay take second that year. As a junior, O'Brien placed sixth in the state in the 1600, while in cross country he placed fourth at the state meet as a junior and 25th as a senior.
“He was probably one of the best we've had,” then-Eastwood boys track coach Gary White told The Press. “He was an exceptional high school athlete. He ran everything from the 200 to the 3200. He was a great 400 runner, a great 4x400 runner ... He did a lot of stuff for us and he's a really great kid.”
O'Brien is a design engineer at National Machinery in Tiffin, a position he has held since 2011. O'Brien and his wife, Tracey, have two children. (— includes file information from stories by Press contributing writer Mark Griffin).


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