Greetings and salutations, sports fans. Today, I have both the tremendous honor and dubious distinction of dusting off a classic. After its temporary hiatus, it's time for the latest installment of Around The Oval for my 11W debut.
"With every death, there comes rebirth. It's the circle of life," says comedic philosopher Chaz from Wedding Crashers. Gone are the bylines of many great Warriors before me, including one who has moved on to greener, pay-wall pastures. Fortunately for myself and the many, many athletes at Ohio State (who the NCAA reminds us will go pro in something other than sports), I have been bequeathed this column to continue our monitoring of athletics and non-revenue sports.
For those of you who know me already, I'm pleased to renew old acquaintances. If you don't, I invite you to check out the bios of myself and the three others who comprise the 2012 "Eleven Warriors Draft Class." We're humbled to be involved with such a fantastic organization. Going forward, I'll be the man behind the curtain when it comes to your weekly "Around The Oval."
Speaking of draft classes, did you hear about Slammin' Sammy?
Samantha Prahalis, the charismatic point guard for the Ohio State women's basketball team, was selected sixth overall in the 2012 WNBA Draft a week ago yesterday. Prahalis was just the third Buckeye selected in the first round of the 15-year WNBA Draft. She was the eleventh Buckeye picked overall since 1997. Sammy departs Ohio State in rare company. She became the Big Ten's all-time leader in assists in addition to totaling over 2,000 points for her career. In fact, she's only the second such player in NCAA history to score over 2,000 while dishing out 900 dimes. In addition to her noted temperance, or aptly lack thereof, she also leaves The Oval with the most paparazzi cred. Sammy will be most remembered by Ohio State fans for the (rumored) budding romance between she and 2010 Naismith Player of the Year, Evan Turner.
After winning the program's fourth national title last month, more good news is on the way for three members of the OSU fencing team: they're heading to the 2012 Summer Olympiad.
This past week, Zain Shaito, Mona Shaito and Margarita Tschomakova all finished successful qualifying rounds this past week to secure spots in London later this summer. The Shaitos, a sophomore-freshman sibling pair, both qualified in Japan. Tschomakova earned her stripes in Slovakia over the weekend.
In London, the Shaito siblings will represent Lebanon, where they own dual-citizenship. Tschomakova, meanwhile, will represent native Bulgaria.
Ohio State won the title in Columbus a month ago, beating out Princeton and Notre Dame. The Buckeyes also won the title in 2004 and more recently in 2008.
On a related author's note: I don't trust men in white foil who look like they're carrying out bio-terrorism drills. That said, as long as they're the one carrying the swords and I'm not, I will set aside my differences.
go b1g or go home
Fans of women's tennis rejoice...the Big Ten women's tennis tournament is coming to a facility near you.
The Ohio State women's tennis team will kick off the 2012 Big Ten Tournament Thursday at 10 AM at the OSU Varsity Outdoor Tennis Courts against Penn State. The Buckeyes, the No. 9-seed in the field, lost 4-3 to the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten opener in early February. OSU took the doubles point in that match, but lost by virtue of dropping four of the six singles matches.
Freshman Kelsey Dieters finished the season with the high-water mark for the Buckeyes with a 19-11 overall record. Dieters and junior Kara Cecil have been the primary doubles pairing for much of the season. The winner of the Thursday contest will take on top-seeded Northwestern Friday.
What started as a pleasant surprise for second-year head coach Greg Beals is turning into a bit of a head-scratcher.
Two weeks ago, the OSU baseball team was riding a fat 7-game winning streak which included a 10-2 win against heavyweight Nebraska. Since that time, the wheels have come off the bus. On Sunday, the Buckeyes needed a 10-4 win agianst Illinois to rescue the series from a sweep and snap a 6-game losing streak.
With three more weekends left to play for the baseball Bucks -- nine games total -- Ohio State now sits seventh in the Big Ten standings (7-8 Big Ten, 22-18 overall). Only the top six in the conference will qualify for the 2012 B1G Tournament at Huntington Park in downtown Columbus.
In Sunday's capper against the Illini, Ohio State raced out to a 9-0 lead before starter John Kuchno began struggling with control. Kuchno walked six and surrendered six hits before giving way to the bullpen with a 9-4 lead. Fortunately for OSU, the Buckeyes' pen was able to stop the bleeding.
Though Ohio State has been lacking middle-of-the-order power, pitching has been the biggest enemy. OSU is ninth in the conference in team ERA (4.61). Fortunately (or unfortunately) for the Buckeyes, six of the nine remining games are against the two teams directly ahead of them in the standings -- Penn State and Indiana. Mixed-in is also a series against cellar-dweller Northwestern.
* OSU women's gymnastics' head coach Carey Fagan received the NACGC/W National Coach of the Year award, announced Monday. The OSU team concluded the NCAA Championships in Duluth, Ga. this weekend finishing fourth place nationally. It was the program's first trip to the National Semifinals since 1990.
* Thanks, in part, to the excellence of fencing, gymnastics, the Final Four appearance, etc., Ohio State is faring quite well in this year's Sears Director's Cup standings. In the April 19 update, Ohio State is second nationally in the standings with 707 total points behind only perennial winner Stanford (876.75 points). The Buckeyes actually lead all schools in the winter sports with 501 total points. OSU finished second behind Stanford in the final 2010-11 results.
* Despite churning out over 80,000 strong in wet, rainy conditions for last week's spring game, Urban mania hasn't necessarily caught on department-wide in terms of athletic donations. According to an article this weekend in the Toledo Blade, OSU raised $40.8 million during the last full fiscal year. Current projections, however, have Ohio State raising roughly $35 million this year.