Welcome back, minions, to Around the Oval, a weekly peek into athletics around the campus of The Ohio State University. Unlike other columns, I endeavor to avoid money-back, satisfaction guarantees and other promises of fulfillment.
On the subject of satisfactory accomplishment, Ohio State announced Monday that 548 athletes would be recognized tomorrow at the 45th annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner. The ceremony, which will be held at the Ohio Union, will honor these so-called "student-athletes" for their scholastic achievements. Pardon my emphasis on "student-athlete." It's an NCAA buzzword that must be given gratuitous attention when the opportunity arises.
Among the notable recipients of this year's awards were Aaron Craft, who is best known for solving the Rubik's Cube in a minute; Andrew Sweat, who has elected to hit the books harder than he'll hit opposing runningbacks; and, also, Amber Stokes, who is arguably more tenacious than her father was as a former Buckeye guard.
Now, not to be Debbie Downer, but I would be remiss if I didn't point out that well over half of nearly 1,000 athletes are receiving this honor. It's not quite 'everyone gets a trophy,' but I admit I'm feeling nostalgic over the days when I was picked near the end of the line for our gym class dodgeball games. That's OK. I was more of a fan of "steal the pin" anyhow.
The bigger awards will come in the first week of June when the Academic All-Big Ten selections are made. Ohio State placed 66 athletes on the list for fall sports back in December (out of 788 total). For the winter sports, the Buckeyes accounted for 59 of the 615 total athletes selected.
With all due respect to all these fine athletes, however, I feel there is one sport being snubbed: beer pong.
Though I'm more of a girly drinker when it comes to alcohol, settling for daquiris, wine coolers or sometimes just opting to down the hardcore mixers, I truly wish we could bring in beer pong as a spectator sport. I think it's a noteworthy honor to hold a 3.5 GPA while honing one's skills over the weekend. From what I've seen in the past with my time spent down on Lane Avenue, I think Ohio State could give Florida State a run for its money in the BCS Championship (Beer Championship Series, of course).
With the real BCS giving way to a playoff, I guess varsity beer pong will now become the most-awaited championship. And just a friendly reminder to the intramural participants: please obey the legal drinking age and drink responsibly.
After a long drought without a Big Ten Title (as in, never), the women's outdoor track team has a wee-bit momentum. Over the weekend, OSU picked up its second consecutive Big Ten Title in Madison, Wis.
With four gold medals, Ohio State successfully defended its first championship from last season by finishing with 117 points. Illinois and Nebraska (110 points apiece) finished in a tie for second. To quote entertaining Cleveland Indians' manager Lou Brown from Major League, win another next year and that's called a winning streak.
As usual, the Buckeyes were led by senior All-American hurdles star, Christina Manning. Manning won the gold in the 100m dash and 100m hurdles, while finishing second in the 200m dash. When you say jump, she says both, "how high?" and "how fast?" For good measure, she was also part of the gold medal-winning 4x100 relay.
The 4x100 team set a 16-year old record for the Big Ten Championship with a time of 43.70. Alexis Thomas was the other first-place finisher this weekend for the Buckeyes, winning the hammer throw at 64.62m.
Today marks the deadline for qualification for the prelimary round of the NCAA Championship. The NCAA Outdoor Championships are June 6-9 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
If the OSU baseball team wants a spot in the Big Ten Tournament next weekend in Columbus, it's do-or-die time in Bloomington. This weekend, the Buckeyes head to Indiana to face the Hoosiers where two wins of three will send the Buckeyes...home.
Thanks to a busy weekend in the B1G, OSU holds a one-game edge for the sixth and final spot of the tournament. Because Ohio State holds the tiebreaker over seventh place Minnesota, OSU needs just two wins to assure themselves a place at Huntington Park. The Gophers lost two of three last weekend to Penn State, giving the Buckeyes their extra cushion.
This past week, Ohio State had a bye in B1G competition, though the Buckeyes took two out of three from Seattle University over the weekend. Seattle torched the Buckeyes for an 11-spot in game two, but Ohio State held them to a combined three runs in the other games.
In the second season utilizing the new BBCOR bat standards in the NCAA, sophomore 1B/P Josh Dezse has been one of the few bright spots with the bats for the Buckeyes. Dezse is hitting a team-high .313 this season with five homers. He also leads the team in on-base percentage and slugging. In 24 innings out of the pen as the team's closer, he has a 3.28 ERA. Dezse is a native of Powell where he attended Olentangy Liberty High School.
If the Buckeyes clinch this weekend, they would play one week from Thursday in the quarterfinals, likely against Indiana or Penn State.
Serves Notre Dame right. The what-should-be Big Ten rivals were dealt a 4-0 defeat this weekend in the second round of the men's tennis NCAA Tournament.
With the win, OSU advances to Athens, Ga. for the regional semifinal this weekend against 12-seed, Florida. Ohio State, the No. 5-seed in the tournament, is 33-3 overall. The pair of home wins stretch their homecourt winning streak to an incredible 148 matches. After a 4-0 win in the first round against East Tennessee State, the Buckeyes dealt the Domers a similar fate. OSU's Chase Buchanan had a hand in two of the Buckeye points, scoring a singles victory 6-3, 6-2, and also doubled-up with Blaz Rola for an 8-3 win in as a doubles pair. Ille Van Engelen had the second singles point for OSU, while Peter Kobelt and Connor Smith had the other doubles' point.
If the Buckeyes get by the Gators (16-9), they would await the winner of 13-seed Mississippi State and 4-seed UCLA for the right to advance to the men's tennis final four in Athens.
Buchanan leads the Buckeyes with a 28-6 overall record.