Ohio State's Championship Contenders for the Spring 2017 Season

By Kevin Harrish on February 12, 2017 at 10:10a
Nick Szerszen celebrates a win.
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Heading into the weekend, at least one person thought Ohio State's men's basketball team had a chance to make the NCAA Tournament before this weekend, but Saturday's loss at Maryland the Buckeyes' thin tournament bubble has likely been popped.

The men's basketball team will not make any sort of meaningful championship run at the end of the season, but many Ohio State teams will. We took a look at the athletic program's top teams to give Buckeye fans an idea of what to watch for this spring athletic season.

Spoiler: there are a lot.

No. 1 Men's Volleyball

Ohio State's men's volleyball team is the most dominant team within the athletic department right now and it's not even close.

The team is currently riding a 36-match winning streak dating back to the 2016 National Championship season. It's the longest win streak in a head-to-head sport in Ohio State history. Incredibly, half of the streak's wins (18) have come against opponents ranked in the top 12 and six have come against top-5 teams.

It's not like the team is just sneaking by in these matches, either. The Buckeyes have won 108 of 128 sets over of the streak and 39 of 43 sets this season. The team has yet to go to a fifth set in 2017.

With the talent the team has on the roster – including 2016's National Player of the Year Nicolas Szerszen – Ohio State is a favorite to play for the NCAA Title at the beginning of May.

It just so happens that match will be held in Columbus this year.

No. 1/No. 6 Fencing

The Ohio State fencing team finished in second place at the NCAA Championships last season, giving the team its 15th consecutive top-5 finish.

This season, hopes are high as the the team returns all 11 of last season's NCAA Tournament qualifiers, highlighted by Eleanor Harvey and Maximilien Chastanet

Harvey won an NCAA Title in women's foil last season, but her biggest accomplishment came on a far bigger stage when she defeated the world's top fencer at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Meanwhile, Chastanet returns as the defending champion in men's foil.

The men's fencing team is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation while the women sit at No. 6. The Buckeyes have a great chance at winning their first NCAA Title since 2012 or at the very least extending their impressive streak of top-5 finishes.

No. 3 Men's Tennis

Ohio State is a perennial powerhouse in men's tennis, reaching the NCAA Tournament sweet-16 in each of the last 11 years. However, the Buckeyes have never won that tournament – that could change this year.

The Buckeyes are led by the No. 2 player in the country in Mikael Torpegaard. The junior from Denmark finished as the runner up in the NCAA singles tournament last season and is a perfect 6-0 at No. 1 singles to start the 2017 season.

Joining him are three other players ranked in ITA Top 125 – Hugo Di Feo (No. 8), Herkko Pollanen (No. 48) and Martin Joyce (No. 77).

The Buckeyes are a perfect 8-0 to start the season, winning 37 of 39 points.

No. 4 Wrestling

I'm not going to bury the lede here – literally the best wrestler in the world wrestles for the Buckeyes.

But it's not just the Olympic Gold Medalist, Kyle Snyder, who earned that No. 4 ranking. The Buckeyes have three national champions, seven wrestlers ranked in the top 15, five ranked in the top 5 and three ranked No. 1 in their weight class.

Ohio State has just two losses on the season, and one of them likely would not have happened if Snyder were not busy winning one of the world's most prestigious wrestling tournaments at the time.

The Buckeyes may not win the team title this season, but with the loaded roster they have, there will almost certainly be some individual hardware brought home.

No. 4 Men's Gymnastics

Ohio State has one of the most talented men's gymnastics teams in the country this season. The Buckeyes have an athlete ranked in the top 10 of every event except vault.

Ohio State is led by Sean Melton, who is ranked in the top 11 at high bar, parallel bar and rings as well as No. 2 in the nation on floor. The team also has Jake Martin, who is ranked No. 5 nationally in the all around, and Alec Yoder, who is ranked No. 4 nationally on the pommel horse.

It's unlikely the Buckeyes will top Oklahoma for the national title as the Sooners have three gymnasts ranked in the top 5 of the all-around, but the Buckeyes will put up an impressive performance at the end of the season and will likely take home some individual accolades.

No. 7 Women's Tennis

The Ohio State women's tennis team is coming off its best season in program history, where they reached the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time ever and finished with a best-ever 31-3 record and No. 4 ranking.

The Buckeyes are led by the nation's top player in top-ranked Francesca Di Lorenzo. At the midpoint of her sophomore season, the New Albany native is already the most decorated player in program history.

Her freshman season, Di Lorenzo broke the program record in singles wins, was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, unanimous Big Ten Freshman of the Year and First Team All-B1G and was also ITA Midwest Region Rookie of the Year. She also won the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championship her first year – the first national title in program history – and went on to win two more ITA national titles her sophomore season.

She's not alone, though. The Buckeyes returned every starter from last year's record-setting team, and all of them are currently ranked in the ITA Top 125. The loaded roster has led the team to a 7-0 start to the season.

Pistol

The Ohio State pistol team has won three consecutive national titles and looks for its fourth this season. The Buckeyes have won eight national tiles in program history and have established themselves as the national powerhouse of late. If they're able to win the title again this season, it will be an entire graduating class of Ohio State athletes who have never gone as season without winning an national title.

Rowing

For the first time in four seasons, the Buckeye did not win the national title in 2016 and instead had to settle for a runner-up finish. The team did, however, become the first program in NCAA history to win three-consecutive 1V8 championships.

This season, the Buckeyes will look to right the ship and take home the NCAA championship.

You know your program is good when anything less than a national title is a disappointment.

Synchronized Swimming

No program at Ohio State has more national titles than the synchronized swimming team. The Buckeyes have won a whopping 29 national titles since their inaugural season in 1979. There have only been 12 season in which Ohio State did not win the national title.

Unfortunately, one of those seasons was last season as the Buckeyes had to settle for second place. Before that, it could be said that the synchronized swimming team won national championships more regularly than the football team won games (72.5 percent of the time to 72 percent of the time).

That's no longer true, as the synchro team wins championships only 70.7 percent of the time. If they win this season, though, they'll retake the lead.


Incredibly, that's just the top-ten teams. The Buckeyes are likely to make deep tournament runs in women's basketball, a team which features one of the best players in the nation in Kelsey Mitchell, as well as men's hockey and possibly women's gymnastics.

Quite simply, there's no shortage of talent in Columbus.

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