ATH: Ohio State Recognizes Academic Standouts at Scholar-Athlete Dinner

Big Ten Medal of Honor finalists revealed


COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Department of Athletics held the 51st-annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner Monday in the Archie M. Griffin Ballroom at the Ohio Union to honor its student-athletes for their academic and athletic accomplishments. At the event, a record 692 Ohio State Scholar-Athletes were recognized (full list) and a number of senior awards were given out.


The finalists for the Big Ten Medal of Honor, which is awarded to one male and one female student from the graduating class of each member institution who has demonstrated excellence on and off the field throughout their college career, were announced at the dinner. The highest honor a student competing in conference athletics can achieve in the Big Ten, the award was established in 1915 and was the first award in intercollegiate athletics to demonstrate support for the educational emphasis placed on athletics. During the past century, the Big Ten Medal of Honor has been awarded to more than 1,300 honorees. These individuals have translated their campus experience into success in all walks of life.


The Ohio State Big Ten Medal of Honor finalists for 2018 on the women’s side are Irina Andrianova (pistol), Liz Li (swimming), Kelsey Mitchell (basketball), Monica Velazquez-Stiak (synchronized swimming) and Nikki Walts (soccer). For the men, the finalists are Drew Cheezum (rifle), Sean Melton (gymnastics), Kyle Snyder (wrestling), Nicolas Szerszen (volleyball) and Mikael Torpegaard (tennis).


The winners of the Big Ten Medal of Honor will be announced at the Scarlet and Graymies April 24.


In addition to senior academic awards and scholarships being presented, Buckeyes teams were recognized for their performances in the classroom.


The women’s soccer team was recognized for having the highest grade-point average among teams with large rosters, while the women’s golf team received the honor among the teams with small rosters. Women’s hockey was honored for having the most improved team GPA among the teams with large rosters and the men’s basketball team was honored for the teams with small rosters.


The Corwin A. Fergus Memorial Award was given to Lauren Spring from women’s ice hockey, rower Helen Sudhoff, Ferny Angeles Paz of women’s tennis and Freddy Freibott from men’s lacrosse. Fergus scholars are male or female student-athletes who have excelled in athletics, achieved academically (3.00 GPA minimum), demonstrated positive qualities of character and citizenship and shown potential for success in a graduate or professional program. Established in 1967, the award is given in memory of Corwin A. Fergus, a member of the Ohio State football team (1912-14), a graduate of the Ohio State School of Law and later a successful businessman. The award reflects his strong commitment to the pursuit of academic and athletic excellence and his positive contributions to society. The $5,000 postgraduate scholarships, which each are renewable for up to three years, can be utilized for graduate study or professional programs at Ohio State.


Rebecca Gavin of the softball team was the recipient of the Pierce Phoenix Award, which is given to a student-athlete who has excelled in academics, athletics and personal growth attained through perseverance and hard work. The award is to be used to attend graduate or professional school at Ohio State, with preference given to someone who intends to enroll in the Fisher College of Business.


In addition to her Fergus honor, Spring of the women’s hockey team received the Leann Grimes-Davidge Award, which is a tribute to Grimes-Davidge’s contributions to athletics at Ohio State. The honor is given annually to a female athlete who reflects Grimes-Davidge’s outstanding qualities of athletic performance, scholarship, character, campus or community involvement and leadership. A member of the Ohio State women’s tennis team, Grimes-Davidge won four state and Big Ten titles. She graduated from Ohio State summa cum laude and received her master’s degree from Miami University where she served as the head women’s tennis coach.


Synchronized swimmer Quinn Connor was recognized with the John Dana Cole Fund. This award, established in 1966 by a gift through the Development Fund from John D. Cole, provides a one-time stipend for post-graduate studies at Ohio State. The recipient of this scholarship is a student-athlete who shows the promise of success in his/her chosen field and has demonstrated academic achievement (3.00 GPA minimum).


Linnea Harper from women’s basketball and Zhesi Li of the women’s swimming team both received the M/I Homes Foundation Award, which has been awarded annually since 1976. The award was one of the first designed specifically to recognize and promote women’s achievements in intercollegiate athletics at Ohio State. It provides an outstanding female scholar-athlete $5,000 for postgraduate studies at Ohio State. The award is based on demonstrated athletic and academic success as well as community contributions through involvement in civic or university organizations.


Five Buckeyes were selected for the Woody and Anne Hayes Scholarship Fund – Angeles Paz from women’s tennis, rower Hanna Gottschalk, Gavin from softball, synchronized swimmer Velazquez-Stiak and Nathan Kohl of the men’s soccer team. The award, established in 1979, provides one or more varsity athletes with financial assistance for postgraduate studies. The recipients of this scholarship are student-athletes who have demonstrated academic achievement (3.00 GPA minimum) and leadership qualities.


Freibott of the men’s lacrosse team and women’s swimmer Elizabeth Auckley were recipients of the Varsity O Scholarship Award. The Varsity O award provides each scholar-athlete with a one-time stipend of $4,000 for postgraduate studies at Ohio State. The ideal candidate maintained a 3.0 GPA or higher during undergraduate studies, earned a varsity letter and performed community service.