While football may be garnering a lot of attention, there are still notable headlines to look out for elsewhere in Ohio State athletics.
From rising teams to unproven talent, there are plenty of storylines to keep an eye out for during the 2020-21 school year.
Ohio State women’s basketball is coming off a late-season run that created a lot of promise within the program. However, three players have transferred out of the program since the season’s abrupt end, adding a level of uncertainty to the 2020-21 campaign.
With the losses of forward Aixa Wone Aranaz and guards Janai Crooms and Kierstan Bell, Ohio State’s depth has diminished considerably. Bell’s loss is the most troubling as the Buckeyes will be without her 10.9 points per game and her ability to score in bunches off of the bench.
With the losses of key bench players, sophomore forward Rebeka Mikulasikova will have an increased scoring role off of the pine. She was the team leader in three point percentage last season and provided 7.7 points per game in her rotational role.
Sophomore guards Jacy Sheldon and Madison Greene are also primed to see their roles increase, as both played in heavy minutes as freshmen a year ago. The backcourt will also add dynamic five-star guard Kateri Poole, who is the No. 24 ranked recruit by ESPN.
The Buckeyes will turn to the veteran leadership of senior forward Braxtin Miller and junior forward Dorka Juhasz, the two most experienced members of the Ohio State squad. Juhasz’ efforts last season earned her an all-Big Ten first-team appearance.
Ohio State baseball never got the opportunity to defend its 2019 Big Ten Tournament crown, but the team will look to reload after playing just 14 games in 2020.
The Buckeyes will be without their most prolific hitter from the shortened season, as junior catcher Dillon Dingler, who hit five home runs in 2020, was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the second round of the MLB draft. Redshirt junior catcher Brent Todys, who filled in for an injured Dingler in 2019 and started at designated hitter in 2020, will be charged with replacing the two-time captain.
While Ohio State loses some of its offensive punch going into the 2021 season, it retains a key contributor on the mound. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Seth Lonsway will return for another season with the Buckeyes after not being selected in the shortened MLB draft. Known for his high amount of strikeouts, Lonsway averaged 10.5 strikeouts per game in 2020 after leading the Big Ten in strikeouts with 71 in 2019 conference games.
Look for the Buckeyes to lean on its experienced pitching to defend its Big Ten title in 2021.
Ohio State men’s hockey was coming off of a series win over Wisconsin, which had it primed for a Big Ten Tournament semifinal matchup with rival Michigan, before the season was cancelled just days before the bitter rivals were set to hit the ice.
The team will be tasked with replacing their top two points leaders, forwards Tanner Laczynski (34) and Carson Meyer (31), as both graduated this spring. Laczynski signed an entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in March, while Meyer, who was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2017, is awaiting his NHL shot.
Stepping up in their place will be junior forwards Gustaf Westlund and Quinn Preston. Both provided the Buckeyes with 26 points each, good enough for tied third on the team.
In the net, senior goalie Tommy Nappier looks to continue his success from the past few seasons, as he was crowned Big Ten Goalie of the Year in 2019. He currently ranks second in career save percentage (.934) and fifth in career goals-against average (1.92) among active NCAA goalies.
The Buckeyes will look to continue where they left off in 2020-21.
Last season, Ohio State women’s hockey did something it had never done before: win a WCHA championship.
After reaching the conference championship game for just the second time in school history and first since 2001, the Buckeyes did not miss the opportunity. Capping off the season with a 1-0 win against Wisconsin, Ohio State was slated to take on Minnesota in the NCAA quarterfinals.
While the historic season did not get the chance to advance further due to COVID-19, the Buckeyes will have the personnel to do it again.
Although the Buckeyes will be without two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Jincy Dunne going forward, they will be returning their three best goal scorers. As juniors, Emma Maltais, Liz Schepers and Tatum Skaggs combined for almost 48 percent of the team’s goals during the 2019-20 season.
Maltais and Schepers will be captains in 2020-21 while Skaggs will join fellow rising senior Lisa Bruno as alternative captains.
Ohio State wrestling had its first four-loss season since 2014-15, and the departures of two-time All-American Luke Pletcher and three-time All-American Kollin Moore, who earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Championships after going 27-0 in 2019-20, will leave the 2020-21 group with a lot to prove.
The Buckeyes will rely on a group of redshirt sophomores who put together solid openings to their careers. Weighing in at 149 pounds, Sammy Sasso went 24-3 in the 2019-20 season to earn the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Championships. He will be joined by fellow redshirt sophomore Rocky Jordan, who went 22-6 after moving up from 174 pounds to 184.
Redshirt sophomore Gavin Hoffman went 16-3 after moving up to heavyweight in January, and earning a record of 22-8, the fourth member of the third-year group is 157-pounder Quinn Kinner.
The 2020-21 Buckeyes will look to earn its fourth Big Ten championship since the 2014-15 season.