Ohio State then-junior attackman Tre Leclaire (44) passes the ball during their match against Rutgers at Ohio Stadium on Mar. 31. Ohio State lost 6-14. Credit: Willow Mollenkopf | For The Lantern

Ten seniors on the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team were tasked with a tough choice this week: return for a fifth year on the field and in the classroom or move on to postgraduate life.

Three major contributors have already made their decision, as attackman Tre Leclaire, midfielder Ryan Terefenko and long stick midfielder Jeff Henrick announced they will return for a fifth year of eligibility.     

After the NCAA’s decision to grant spring student-athletes an extra year of eligibility Monday, Ohio State announced the following day that it would extend the offer to its own student-athletes.

“I think what we did in this time was just meet with each one of them individually to really get an understanding of what is best for them, not best for Buckeye lacrosse. This was a time for them to be selfish and really think about what is best for them,” Ohio State head coach Nick Myers said in a conference call Tuesday.

Each member of the trio has played in more than 50 games, bringing back crucial experience for the 2021 season. 

Leclaire, who sits at No. 6 in all-time Buckeye points, will return next season only 12 goals away from setting a new record for all-time goals at Ohio State. Logan Schuss, a midfielder from 2010 to ’13, holds the record with 147 goals.

In the shortened 2020 season, Leclaire led the team in goals with 26, good for No. 4 in the nation, while his 34 total points were No. 11. Leclaire is a three-time United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-American.

Leclaire thanked Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Myers for their “unwavering loyalty” in an Instagram post Wednesday.

“I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to continue my education and pursue my dream alongside my brothers one last time,” Leclaire said in the post.

Terefenko returns as a two-time captain and one of the top short stick defensive midfielders in the country. Also a three-time USILA All-American, he had two goals and four assists in the seven games the Buckeyes played this season, along with 30 ground balls to lead the team. Terefenko has picked up 139 ground balls in 52 career games.

Despite the shortened season, Terefenko was named a first team All-American by Inside Lacrosse Wednesday for his play this year. He said Smith and the athletic department have consistently put players first. 

“They’ve always put the best interest of student-athletes first and this is just another example of that,” Terefenko said in a press release Thursday. “I can’t wait to get back to work as we chase our goals in 2021.” 

Henrick will also return as a two-time captain. He scored a behind-the-back goal from the long stick defensive midfield position in an 11-4 win against Boston University Feb. 8 and contributed an assist on the season. Henrick picked up 19 ground balls and caused seven turnovers. He has 81 ground balls and 30 caused turnovers in his career. 

Hendrick’s statement echoed the gratitude of his returning teammates.

“Words cannot express how excited I am to give it another go,” he said.

The three returning fifth-years are part of a senior class that was on the 2017 national runner-up team and will look to lead the team back. 

The other seven seniors on the team will have to decide whether or not to return for the 2021 season. 

“Any time a young man or woman is looking at a fifth-year opportunity — is it a fit from an academic piece and certainly financial? With 12.6 scholarships in men’s lacrosse and a roster of somewhere in the 45-47 range, that’s certainly a big part of the dialogue,” Myers said. “This is very personal to each athlete. It’s not a class thing.”