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The top 10 Ohio State sports stories of 2012: Part I

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

Lantern sports editor Pat Brennan has listed the top 10 most memorable and significant stories to emerge from the Ohio State sports beat in 2012. Below are stories 10-6. Part II, which includes the top 5, will be published on Dec. 29. 

Most years are memorable ones for the Ohio State athletic department. That’s what happens when you field 36 varsity teams made up of more than 1,000 student-athletes – even in a down year, there’s a good chance at least one of those 1,000 will do something spectacular. And in 2012, OSU student-athletes had their share of memorable, at times stunning and inspiring, on-field feats. My list of the top 10 sports stories from this year reflects as much. 

Of course, the performances of the athletes alone don’t complete the picture of OSU athletics. In 2012 we learned of NCAA violations, a much-hyped basketball game played on a US Navy aircraft carrier was canceled and, perhaps most sadly, an OSU football recruit decided he would not be a part of the OSU community after learning he had come into contact with a registered sex offender during a recruiting visit. 

To ignore or overlook the unfortunate and negative events would be naive, as well as an incomplete recounting of this athletic department’s story in 2012. To focus solely on the unfortunate and negative would also be a disservice to the achievements of the athletes. In the case of the OSU athletic department, all of it converges to paint a vibrant picture that is the 2012 year in sports at one of the most colorful universities in the world. 

10. A night to remember for Samantha Prahalis

By themselves, senior night celebrations are already noteworthy events for the athletes whose NCAA eligibility has finally wound down – one final hurrah in front of the home fans and an emotional goodbye from coaches. Former OSU women’s basketball guard Samantha Prahalis upped the senior night ante and left an indelible mark on the program in her Schottenstein Center swan song.

Prahalis, the lone senior on the 2011-12 OSU squad, gave the Buckeye faithful something to remember as she scored a single-game program record 42 points against Minnesota on Feb. 23. Prahalis connected on 15-of-27 shots and accounted for more than half of the then-No. 8 Buckeyes’ points in the 81-56 win.

The Buckeyes’ season ended with a disappointing first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Florida on March 18, but Prahalis had already cemented her legacy as one of the best in Buckeyes history. In addition to her record-setting 42-point outing on her senior night, Prahalis left Columbus as OSU’s all-time assists leader (901) and No. 4 on the all-time scoring list (2,010).
Prahalis is continuing her basketball career with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, which selected her No. 6 overall in the 2012 WNBA Draft.

9. Football recruit walks after athletic department warns of Kentucky sex offender

A confluence of unfortunate events, including the de-commitment of former OSU football recruit Alex Anzalone and an athletic department email warning athletes to be wary of a registered sex offender from Kentucky, combined for, perhaps, the most sad and disturbing piece of OSU athletics news in 2012.

Anzalone, a linebacker from Reading, Pa., who originally committed to OSU on April 21 while visiting the university for the Buckeyes’ Spring Game, de-committed less than two weeks later after a picture of himself, two other recruits and a registered sex offender made its way to the Internet.

Charles Waugh was the sex offender, and he posted the picture of Anzalone on Twitter. After learning Waugh had been pictured with OSU student-athletes and recruits, OSU athletic director for compliance Doug Archie sent a warning email to Buckeye student-athletes.

The athletic department email, obtained and first published by The Lantern, was a quick  preventative measure designed to protect athletes from Waugh, but it was too late for Anzalone, who would not renew his commitment to OSU football. He later committed to Notre Dame football.

8. Abandon ship: Men’s basketball’s Carrier Classic game sunk by moist court

The Carrier Classic, a two-game college basketball series played on the flight deck of the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., was a spectacle in more ways than most probably expected.

With a beautiful pink-orange sunset as the backdrop for the first of two outdoor games, the OSU women’s basketball team opened its season on the decommissioned US Navy vessel with a 57-51 loss to Notre Dame on Nov. 9.

The OSU men were up next, or so we thought.

OSU coach Thad Matta’s team’s scheduled season-opener against Marquette was thwarted by the elements as the game was halted due to persistent condensation on the playing surface.

The start of the game was delayed for more than an hour as crews tried to dry the surface before the cancelation of the game was announced. Basketball fans paid $500 for admission to the doubleheader, but the on-court sights more closely resembled a circus than an NCAA competition. In a scene that was equal parts desperate and comedic, the OSU and Marquette benches cleared as players and coaches grabbed towels and got on their hands and knees to wipe the court down.

All the towels event organizers could muster weren’t enough to make the court playable, and after game officials, athletics directors and coaches met to discuss the matter, the game was ruled a “no contest,” and was not rescheduled.

7. Eleven Buckeyes Compete at London Olympics

The games of the XXX Olympiad in London, England, saw 11 current or former OSU athletes compete in fencing, swimming, rowing, rifle, soccer, and diving. None of the athletes took a medal at the games, but they combined to form a formidable OSU contingent.

Perhaps the most successful of the Olympians with OSU ties was former Buckeye soccer player Roger Espinoza, who scored a goal for Honduras in its quarterfinal match against Brazil. His team was eliminated with a 3-2 loss in that game. Espinoza also tallied an assist in Honduras’ 1-0 group-stage win against Spain.

A pair of siblings – current OSU athletes Zain and Mona Shaito – represented Lebanon in the men’s and women’s foil competitions. Former OSU fencers Margarita Tschomakova and Louise Bond-Williams both competed in the women’s sabre competition, as well. Former OSU swimmers competed for their native countries, including Canadian swimmer Samantha Cheverton and Serbian swimmer Dorde Markovic.

Two former OSU rowers – American Margot Shumway and Italian Claudia Wurzel – also participated in Olympic competition. Amanda Furrer, a current OSU senior, finished 15th in the 50-meter rifle competition. Finally, former OSU diver Katie Bell represented the US in the women’s 10-meter platform competition.

6. Braxton Miller finishes 5th in Heisman Trophy voting

To say that a college football player has Heisman Trophy potential is one thing. Delivering on that potential is another matter entirely, and that’s what OSU quarterback Braxton Miller did during his sophomore season.

The Buckeyes’ dual-threat quarterback gashed opponents on the ground, rushing for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns, while also cracking opposing defenses through the air as he threw for 2,039 yards, 15 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Miller finished No. 2 in the entire Big Ten Conference in all-purpose yards accumulated (3,310).

The box scores alone do not tell of Miller’s true value to the 2012 Buckeyes – he sometimes disregarded his personal well being, flinging his body about the field in pursuit of a couple extra yards as bruising defenders battered his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame. That kind of play forced Miller off the field due to injury several times last season, but his fearlessness was a hallmark on the 2012 team, a squad that will be discussed later in the count

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