Which Olympic Sport Is Hardest On Its Goalies

(We included data from the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Women’s World Cup to shore up the soccer data, since it’s readily available and comparable.)Soccer and field hockey keepers have the “easiest” jobs, generally saving around 70 percent of shots. Soccer goalies see far fewer attempts, though, leading to much more variance throughout a tournament (that low point for men’s soccer is English keeper Joe Hart, who saw only five shots at the 2014 World Cup but let in four). Water polo goalkeepers let in shots at a much greater clip, especially on the women’s side, but handball goalies have it worst of all, letting in around seven in 10 shots. But the saves, when they come, can be spectacular: Dominant goalkeepers are great, but they only get you so far. Of the eight “best” keepers shown above, only two — Josip Pavić for the Croatian men’s water polo team and Kari Aalvik Grimsbø for the Norwegian women’s handball team — took home a title. Johan Sjöstrand helped guide the Swedish men’s handball team to silver, but none of the other five keepers medaled (or placed at the World Cup).I saw Grimsbø in action in Rio, dressed in her full black attire of long pants and sleeves, making 10 saves in a 27-24 victory over Spain. Whenever Spain’s offense had the ball in Norway’s half, Grimsbø was moving: both feet shuffling, both hands waving — ready to make a spider-like save with any possible limb. (Since we can’t show you footage of her in Rio, here she is with her club team Győri ETO KC:) We’re on the ground in Rio covering the 2016 Summer Olympics. Check out all our coverage here.RIO DE JANEIRO — U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo’s two howlers (read: very terrible plays) last night against Colombia led to a shocking 2-2 draw for the U.S. women’s soccer team, who still advance first in the group at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro despite Solo’s between-the-legs gaffe.It was an unlikely performance from one of the best U.S. goalkeepers — with just over 200 caps, she has the most shutouts of any American female goalkeeper — but as far as Olympic goalkeeping goes, Solo has it easy. Women’s soccer goalkeepers have some of the highest save percentages of any Olympic sport: She’s incredible to watch, splaying out her arms and legs to make a save, and her coach Thorir Hergeirsson explained why she’s the best in the world: “She is very anticipative; she can read the game and position herself very well. And she has very good technique in different positions, both distance shooting and from the line,” he told me. Asked whether Norway can win gold again in Rio, Hergeirsson shrugged off the question but was happy to talk more about Grimsbø. “She was our key player in 2012. Without her, Norway would not have won the gold medal.”Allison reported from Rio, and Reuben from New York. read more

Players Boycotting Social Media Over Racism Receive Abuse

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Some soccer players in England boycotting social media in a protest against racism were targeted with abuse for posting about the 24-hour campaign. Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, left, challenges for the ball with Tottenham’s Danny Rose during the Champions League, round of 8, first-leg soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) Social media companies did not appear to respond on their networks to the players’ concerns despite widespread coverage and support from FIFA for the boycott. “We will be requesting meetings with each of the social platforms as a matter of priority,” the PFA said. “Meetings with the Football Association and government are planned for next month. This is a first step in a larger player-led campaign to tackle racism and demand meaningful change.” Twitter did not respond to an email from The Associated Press requesting comment and Facebook, which also owns Instagram, provided a statement that did not directly address the players’ concerns. Talks with the social media companies are now being urgently sought by the Professional Footballers’ Association, which coordinated the “Enough” campaign to demand a crackdown on racism by the platforms. The boycott was advocated by Tottenham defender Danny Rose, who was targeted with monkey noises while playing for England in Montenegro last month, and Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, who called for more stringent regulation of posts on social media. “Yesterday, some members received racist abuse on their #Enough posts. When these incidents were reported, the response from social networks was — again — unacceptable,” the PFA said in a statement. “In the coming days, we will be inviting players to report any racist abuse they have received to us. We will collate it and share it with social platforms to demonstrate the impact of their lack of action.” There was silence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from many players from 0800 GMT Friday for 24 hours. “We will remove hate speech or credible threats of any kind, and we encourage anyone who sees content they find offensive to report it so we can remove anything that breaks our community standards,” Facebook said by email. “We have developed a range of tools that allow users to moderate and filter the content that people put on their pages including; hiding or deleting comments, blocking certain words, turning on a profanity filter, and banning people.” read more

Is Winning The Players Championship As Hard As Winning A Major

U.S. Open0.135.60 PGA Championship0.08%5.20% Players Championship0.085.48 British Open0.085.25 EventAvg. PGA playerTop 5 player Masters Tournament0.106.02 Win Probability * Average of the players with the five highest strokes-gained averages.Source: Data Golf What would account for that difference? The Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open allow amateur players to qualify — which leads to stories like the one about a firefighter achieving his lifelong goal of playing in a major but also guarantees some lower scores at the bottom of the pack. The PGA Championship makes it extremely difficult for amateurs to qualify, but it does reserve 20 spots in its field for club professionals. The Masters and the PGA Championship both give their winners lifetime exemptions. At the U.S. Open, winners get a 10-year exemption; at the British Open, so long as a winner is under 60, he’s able to compete. None of that is the case at the Players, where amateurs aren’t allowed, nor are club pros or sectional qualifiers, and winners receive measly five-year exemptions.Put another way, if there was a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately tournament in professional golf, it would be the Players, an event for which you can qualify only by generating recent success.With an estimate of each player’s ability on hand — and an understanding of what each golfer is capable of doing on the course, using a given mean and standard deviation to guide the calculus — the folks at Data Golf then ran simulations to estimate win probabilities for each player. The average PGA Tour player had no better than a 0.18 percent win probability at each of the events from 2011 to 2017, and no top-five player had a higher win probability than in 2016, when each of the five best players on tour had a 6.44 percent win probability at the Masters.The PGA Championship, the Courchenes found, was considered the most difficult tournament to win in five of the seven years they looked at, with an average player having a win probability of no greater than 0.12 percent in all but one year.2In 2014, the average PGA Tour player had a win probability of 0.18 percent. In the 2013 season, the Players Championship was considered the most difficult tournament for a top-five player to win (4.55 percent). Here’s how the five tournaments stacked up in 2017: The Players is as hard or harder to win than the majorsSimulated win probability for a top five golfer* and average PGA player at the four majors and the Players Championship in 2017 There is perhaps no professional golf tournament that advertises its degree of difficulty quite as liberally as does the Players Championship. It almost reeks of a golf tournament inferiority complex. The event’s official Twitter handle advertises the “best field in golf” in its profile. And just in case you miss the profile, the account tweeted the claim here, here and here — all in the span of a few weeks.This may come off as a desperate campaign by the PGA Tour to promote its marquee event. But it’s not inaccurate: The Players may actually have the best class of golfer from top to bottom.This week’s tournament will be the 45th installment. Its $11 million purse is tied with that of the Masters for the second-largest on tour, behind only the U.S. Open, with the winner collecting $1.98 million. The tournament also awards 600 FedExCup points, the same number delegated to major winners. Its difficulty is infamous: Birthed from swampland nearly four decades ago, TPC Sawgrass is a mishmash of water hazards, razor-thin turns and spacious bunkers, and it boasts one of the most dramatic three-hole finishing stretches in professional golf. “You can never let up anywhere on this course,” said golfer Billy Horschel. “Nothing is easy.” And of course the 17th hole — arguably the most famous par-3 in the world — has buried many a golfer; just ask Russell Knox or Sergio Garcia.The “fifth major” is effectively a major in every way save for classification.Matt and Will Courchene at Data Golf sought to tackle the “best field in golf” debate with a more rigorous methodology than merely averaging world rankings. Their study compared tournament fields from the Players Championship and the four majors from 2011 to 2017.The first step was to approximate field strength. To do so, they calculated the historical adjusted scoring average of every golfer in every field in every respective season, taking course difficulty into account — for example, playing a bogey-free round at, say, TPC Kuala Lumpur isn’t the same as playing blemish-free at Augusta National. They then scaled those numbers to express how many strokes a player is better or worse than the average PGA Tour player in 2017. So a player who was two strokes better than an average tour player in 2017 would have a mark of plus-2. This allows for a better look at comparing performance over courses and years.1More information on their calculus can be found here.According to these metrics, the Players Championship was far and away the strongest tournament in terms of average player quality, earning the top mark in each respective season. Where it mostly separated itself is in the bottom fourth of the field. The bottom 25 percent of the field at the Players, the Courchenes found, was significantly stronger than the bottom quarter of each of the respective majors — more than a stroke better per round. While this research doesn’t cover this year’s Players Championship, the field is no less stacked. Every man who has won a major since 2013 is in Florida this week, as are 49 of the top 50 players on the current iteration of the World Golf Rankings, a notable feat considering the attrition that so often plays into tournament fields. All but one of the top 32 players in total strokes gained is in attendance, as are the top seven drivers on tour. Additionally, four players — Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose — could take the world No. 1 ranking away from Dustin Johnson over the weekend; Johnson needs to finish at least in the top 11 to maintain the crown.With arguably the most dramatic three holes in golf at the end of the course, the Players Championship should remind us again this week of how challenging this tournament is. And if you somehow forget that it showcases the strongest field in professional golf, don’t worry: The PGA Tour will find a way to remind you. read more

Ray Rice Was Awful When He Last Played Football

On Friday, an arbitrator overturned the indefinite suspension of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who violently assaulted his then-fiancee (now wife) in an elevator in February. The arbitrator found that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was not misled by Rice when Goodell initially suspended Rice for two games, and that Goodell’s decision to extend Rice’s ban — following enormous public outcry after the release of a more graphic video of the incident — was “arbitrary.”The ruling means Rice is free to sign with any NFL team, and reports Sunday were that at least four teams were interested. Ethically, there’s no escaping Rice’s scandal and the probable uproar his signing would bring to whichever team takes a chance on him. But there’s also the question of whether Rice is even worth having on the field.From 2009 to 2012, Rice was arguably the best running back in football. But in 2013, he was horrific, ranking last in yards per rush among RBs with at least 200 carries. In fact, restricting the comparison to his contemporaries actually understates how bad Rice was a year ago; among all historical NFL running back seasons of 200 or more carries, only five saw a lower yards-per-carry average than Rice’s 3.08 mark in 2013.Yards per carry isn’t everything, of course. It can be highly volatile from year to year (or even within the same season), overly responsive to a handful of anomalous long runs and not representative of the fact that, when they run the ball, coaches are trying to maximize “success rate” — the rate at which a play increases the team’s expected points — not yards per play.But Rice also had the league’s worst success rate among running backs with 200 or more carries in 2013. And spearheaded by Rice, the Ravens’ rushing offense was the least efficient in football. Furthermore, Pro Football Focus’s play-by-play grading metrics, which measure how well a player fulfilled his responsibilities on a given play, rated Rice as the worst halfback in the NFL a season ago — not only because he was the worst rusher (by far), but also because he was the league’s fifth-worst blocker at the position. (It doesn’t help Rice that his replacement on the Ravens, Justin Forsett, is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and already has 349 more rushing yards this season than Rice had in 2013 — on 35 fewer carries.)So, by any standard, Rice was awful when he last played. And at age 27, he’s at the point on the running back aging curve where production starts to fall off a cliff. FiveThirtyEight contributor Chase Stuart looked at a cohort of recent RBs who had good careers (at least 5,000 career rushing yards and 40 rushing yards per game) and found that nearly a third of them were washed up by the end of their age 28 season. Almost two-thirds were finished by age 29.Even after his reinstatement (and the requisite quotes about Rice having stayed in “great shape” during the ban), Rice is unlikely to contribute to a team in any meaningful way this season. So whoever signs him is looking at maybe two more seasons of any productivity from him — and that’s without factoring in a year of rust and just how bad Rice was when he last took the field. Combined with the seemingly inevitable backlash his signing will cause, it’s tough to find any logical reason to give Rice another chance in the NFL. read more

The Calm Before The College Football Playoff Storm

FloridaSEC<1—<1— Okla. StateBig 127+4<1— TEAMCONFERENCEPROBCHANGEPROBCHANGE W. MichiganMAC<1—<1— NebraskaBig Ten<1—<1— W. VirginiaBig 12<1-6<1— MichiganBig Ten37+112— AuburnSEC<1—<1— WisconsinBig Ten30+63+1 Last week’s College Football Playoff rankings were all about seeing how the selection committee would respond to one of the wackiest weekends of upsets in modern history. By contrast, this past weekend saw just one upset with major CFP implications — Louisville’s 36-10 loss at Houston — and the committee responded like the pollsters of old: It kept the top four unchanged, dropped Louisville from No. 5 to No. 11, and bumped everyone in between up by one slot.The result was a week of relatively few changes to our CFP prediction model’s playoff odds report. Louisville predictably lost all 40 percentage points of its CFP probability, Clemson and Ohio State slightly strengthened their positions within the top four, and the large group of outsiders looking to crash the playoff party — most notably, odds-on Big 12 favorite Oklahoma — gained some late-season steam. But for the most part, the model’s overall playoff picture is similar to what it offered up last week: Obviously, this upcoming weekend of games will bring far more significant changes. The biggest matchup is Michigan at Ohio State on Saturday, and the winner of that game will see its CFP odds soar north of 80 percent, while the loser will have almost no chance of making the playoff. But Washington could also give itself better than a coin flip’s shot at the playoff if it beats Washington State on Friday, regardless of what happens in Columbus the next day. And Penn State (which holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Ohio State but not Michigan) could still play spoiler in the Big 10’s East division with a win and a Michigan loss — although in that event, our model still gives the Buckeyes a 94 percent CFP probability even without them appearing in the conference championship game.With either Michigan or Ohio State practically certain to drop out of the CFP running after a loss Saturday, the main question coming out of the week, assuming all the top favorites win, will be who — whether it be Washington or Wisconsin, or perhaps even Oklahoma, Penn State or Colorado — emerges as the most likely candidate to join Alabama, Clemson and the Ohio State/Michigan winner among the top four going into conference championship weekend.And if any of the favorites lose? Then everyone’s favorite feature of late-season college football — pure chaos — will win the weekend. Penn StateBig Ten15+6<1— LouisvilleACC<1-40<1-9 MAKES PLAYOFFWINS NAT’L TITLE VIDEO: Ohio State’s chances are better than most OklahomaBig 1228+144+2 WashingtonPac-1236+37+2 AlabamaSEC90%-136%-2 USCPac-122-1<1— Ohio StateBig Ten60+519+2 ColoradoPac-1216+62+2 ClemsonACC78+816+3 2016 College Football Playoff predictions update, Nov. 23 TennesseeSEC<1—<1— Changes in FiveThirtyEight’s CFP prediction model are since last week.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Wash. StatePac-12<1-4<1— UtahPac-12<1-2<1— read more

Five takeaways Price returning pass game still lacking and Watsons skill

OSU redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber (25) tries to avoid a tackles during the Buckeyes 31-0 loss against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorThere’s a bitter taste in the mouths of Ohio State football fans that will likely not go away until well after Alabama or Clemson wins a national championship for the 2016 season. Buckeye faithful sat back and watched quite possibly the worst performance by the team in the last decade, barring some horrendous disasters in the 2011 season.There was little to lift coach Urban Meyer’s spirits, and even less to make the players smile following the game. All season long, the coaching staff has preached about the adversity the team had and would face.This is a little taste of what true adversity is like for a football team. An embarrassingly bad performance might leave a player bitter, but it also invites room to grow.Following the 31-0 drubbing of OSU at the hands of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and his Tigers, here are five takeaways as the Buckeyes look ahead to 2017.Billy Price is returning, and other players should tooThis one is big news for Buckeyes fans. After questions over which key players would leave and which ones would stay, Price decided after the smoke had settled that it was a great time to announce his return.He said it was motivated by his friend and teammate Pat Elflein. Price expressed his desire to follow in his mentor’s footsteps and return to lead the team, but also said there was some family motivation as well.“I told my grandfather before he passed, and my mother, I promised her I’d graduate,” Price said. “To graduate from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University was definitely one of my goals when I came here.”Price received some criticism for what some called a down year, but there is little denying the brute strength and dominant ability of the Ohio native. Plus, if he truly is following in Elflein’s footsteps, does that mean OSU will have a returning starter become center?As for the other players who are on the fence, a blowout loss could be the motivation to push them back to Columbus. Afterall, ending your college career with a blowout loss would be far from ideal for most players.Redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard expressed his desire to return, while most others said they would have to dwell on the question. Even though most would be making millions immediately if they left for the NFL, expect to see more than a few sticking around for one more chance at glory.OSU needs to address it’s passing gameIt’s been quite the four years for redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett in Columbus. From season-ending injury, sharing playing time and criticism over his arm strength, you could say he’s had some rough patches. Barrett has been a solid leader for the Buckeyes, flashing great skill and peak athleticism along the way. But, the mostly quiet leader of OSU has yet to personally deliver so much as a Big Ten title in his time with OSU.Although he is easily the best option at quarterback for OSU next year if he returns, Barrett could have some harsh criticism if he falters early. Still, changes in the pass game would most likely come at the coaching level. Even though the offense has been good enough to reach the playoffs two out of three years, there needs to be something more if the Buckeyes hope to win it all again. And maybe, just maybe, OSU will have a new offensive coordinator next season.Tim Beck, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was not too positive in his outlook after he was asked if he would be back next year.“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s coach Meyer’s decision.”Deshaun Watson is very good, but not greatThe game seemed like it would all be on the shoulders of Clemson junior quarterback Deshaun Watson if the Tigers hoped to win. However, it was the defense that carried the majority of the load. Watson is a good quarterback, as solid as you can ask a dynamic quarterback to be. On Saturday, he showed he can be the guy who does what is necessary to bring home the win.It was far from his best performance as a Tiger, and was not the prettiest game he could have had. Be that as it may, this game will go down as one of his best performances.On the first interception he threw, his receiver, senior wide receiver Mike Williams slipped, giving an easy lane to the ball for OSU redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley. As for the second one, OSU redshirt sophomore Malik Hooker happened, running halfway across the field to hunt down a potential touchdown pass.Other than an instance of bad footing by his receiver and a highlight-reel play by a defender, Watson was near perfect. Alone, he had three total touchdowns and 316 yards of offense.This game was statistically average, or maybe even somewhat subpar. But, add on the circumstance of the gravity of the matchup and how OSU’s defense had been playing, and his performance was nothing short of outstanding.Gutsy players can make big time plays and make a difference in big games. Watson essentially described himself as gutsy during post game interviews.“I’m a quarterback, so if I throw a pick or make a mistake I’m not going to shy away and not just going to throw it,” he said. “I’m going to take my chances, take my shots. I feel like the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.”Mike Weber needs a good offseasonPicking up 1,072 yards and nine rushing touchdowns as a freshman foreshadows a productive career. However, work will need to be done if redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber wants to keep racking up big numbers.Ezekiel Elliott was not the same running back his freshman year as he was during his sophomore and junior season. Most players who line up in the backfield take time to develop.It was quite apparent the last two games of the 2016 season for the Buckeyes that Weber needs more work, as he had just 50 yards on the ground in his last two games. A good offseason camp to improve his ball security and ability to bounce off tacklers would be just what the doctor ordered for Weber.Although he is the clear front-runner for the starting tailback role next year, it’s all about development from here until next season for the Michigan native.Ohio State exceeded some expectations in 2016, failed to fulfill othersIn a season with so many new players filling starting roles, it was difficult to determine just how the team would perform. Overall, OSU met many expectations, while also falling well short of others.For starters, many of the young members of the Buckeyes performed admirably in their new starting roles. Although his time was sporadic in the Fiesta Bowl after suffering a leg injury in the first offensive series for OSU, freshman offensive guard Michael Jordan had a solid season playing alongside seasoned veterans.While the young guns had success, some seasoned veterans failed to meet expectations. At wide receiver, graduate student wide receiver Corey Smith had little to no impact this season, while senior wideout Dontre Wilson failed to finally live up to the hype that followed him when he first arrived in Columbus.Overall, the Buckeyes did not have to even make it to the playoffs to impress OSU fans. But, as is true for most teams that start off the season hot, fans of the the Scarlet and Gray will be feeling disappointed from this season for months to come. OSU had an offensive line returning two standout offensive lineman in Elflein and Price, and some solid names coming into starting roles. However, the Buckeyes failed to protect Barrett in key moments, leading to a heartbreaking loss in the biggest game of the year.Still, OSU showed off a dynamic rushing attack with players like Weber and Samuel. For every negative, it seemed like the Buckeyes could find a positive. In the end, 2016 was a year of growth, disappointment, exhilaration and learning experiences for the Buckeyes. Looking ahead to 2017, while things might change in coaching staff or starting players, OSU might be back into the playoffs for the second straight year, and the third time in four years. read more

California native living out dream at Ohio State

A native of California, Grant Schwartz had the opportunity to spend his college career playing on the West Coast. But he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and play for Ohio State. “It’s been a dream come true,” Schwartz said. “To get to be in the same place that he was 30 years ago and be on the same team is something pretty special that not a lot of people get to experience. I’m blessed that I was able to do that.” Grant’s father, Brian, played defensive back for the Buckeyes from 1976-79. While he was also offered scholarships by both Oregon and Boise State, Grant ultimately decided that the opportunity to play in the same stadium that his father did outweighed staying close to home. “It definitely had a big influence on it,” Grant said. “Growing up and being a Buckeye fan, and always watching Ohio State, I always dreamed of following in my dad’s footsteps, so when I had the opportunity, I jumped on it.” Initially recruited as a defensive back, Grant was moved to wide receiver at the beginning of his second season at OSU. “I was always an offensive player in high school, so having the ball in my hands all the time came natural to me,” Grant said. “As far as being a receiver, that’s an intricate position so it’s taken me a couple of years to really get the ins and outs down, but I got through the transition.” Despite making the move to offense, Grant needed to retain his tackling skills, as the majority of the playing time he’s seen during his OSU career has come on special teams. Grant didn’t record his first career reception until the 2010 season opener against Marshall. “Special teams is an intricate part of the team so it’s always a privilege to be a big contributor on that,” Grant said. “Every football player comes here to play offense or defense, so it’s been special to get those couple of catches that I’ve gotten so far this year and hopefully I’ll add on to that with the remaining games that we have.” Grant’s opportunity to add to his receptions total hit a snag midway through his senior year when he was hospitalized for a night after landing awkwardly while diving for a catch in practice. Fortunately the injury was not as severe as some feared. “It looked like it was one of those real serious injuries and fortunately, I think he was just whacked real hard on a nerve and got traumatized,” coach Jim Tressel told reporters the day after the injury occurred. “I don’t know if that’s a quick bounce-back. But as I listen to our medical staff, he’s moving around good.” Despite the injury and having spent his career making his mark on special teams, Grant hopes that he can parlay the attention that the OSU football program gets into a career in pro football. “We’ll see how the rest of the season goes and take it from there,” Grant said. “Hopefully I’ll have a good pro day and maybe get a tryout or two.” Having grown up just an hour away from Pasadena, it’s no surprise that Grant’s favorite Buckeye memory involves winning the same bowl game that his father played in 30 years before him. “The Rose Bowl was an awesome experience,” Grant said. “Watching the Rose Bowl every year, seeing the parade, just knowing how much that means to that area. It seems to be the most prestigious bowl in all of college football, so that was an awesome experience, and obviously winning helped that out a lot.” read more

Ohio State track and field teams off to a fast start

The Ohio State men’s and women’s indoor track and field seasons are officially under way. The women have now started their defense of the 2011 Big Ten Indoor Championship, while the men are poised to achieve the same glory this season. On Friday night, OSU hosted the Buckeye Classic inside the French Field House. The members of the OSU men’s and women’s track and field teams competed against athletes from Ohio University, Wright State University and Shorter University. The men’s team dominated the competition, with a Buckeye athlete winning all 14 events contested. The women’s team also had an impressive performance; an OSU athlete won 11 of the 15 events contested. The meet served as a tune-up for the rest of the season, and both teams seem prepared for the season to come. Last season, the OSU women won the program’s first Big Ten indoor track and field title, and as defending champions, they are certainly among the favorites to win the championship in 2012. This is especially true with the return of senior Christina Manning, last season’s Big Ten Athlete of the Year. Manning started this season right where she left off last year, with victories in the 60-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles at the Buckeye Classic. Coach Karen Dennis said she expects her team to “get better,” and she believes that “great team synergy” will be a big factor in their performance during championship season. The OSU men’s track and field team finished fifth in the 2011 Big Ten indoor championships, but their sights are set on finishing much higher this season. The Buckeyes got off to a great start by winning every event at the Buckeye Classic. They were led by double victories from junior Donny Roys in the mile run and 800-meter run, and from sophomore Demoye Bogle in the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles. Not all of the Buckeyes’ stars fared differently at the Buckeye Classic. Senior Thomas Murdaugh, last year’s Big Ten champion in the 400-meter dash, pulled up and dropped out of the race before rounding the final corner on his second lap of the race. As the Buckeyes pursue a conference championship, coach Robert Gary said Murdaugh’s injury isn’t too big of an issue. Despite Murdaugh’s injury, the men’s team is very confident in the season to come — Bogle even said that the team “should win the Big Ten this year.” Gary did not make any bold predictions for the championship season, stating the importance of focusing on one meet at a time. Gary said he does believe his team “will certainly make a run” at the conference championship, and that he has “one of the best teams (the program) has had since I have been the head coach.” Both teams compete next on Jan. 14, in separate dual meets against the school’s arch-rival, the University of Michigan. The women’s track and field will be hosting Michigan at the French Field House, while the men’s team will be competing in Ann Arbor, Mich. The men’s and women’s track and field teams will attempt to keep their focus on one meet at a time, but their sights continue to remain on glory at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, at which both teams will compete. The Big Ten Indoor Championships will be held Feb. 24-25 in Lincoln, Neb. read more

Reid Fragel takes advantage of fluid situation at right tackle

For now, senior Reid Fragel has an edge over freshman Taylor Decker in the fight for Ohio State football’s right tackle position, but the battle isn’t over yet. OSU released its depth chart for Saturday’s season-opening game against Miami (Ohio) on Monday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. While Fragel won the job, Decker will still might see time at the right and left tackle positions for OSU as the first man off the bench at tackle. Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner also said that the starting spot remains a “fluid situation” and he will continue to monitor both players’ performance in the days and weeks to come. Should either Fragel or Decker play well and the other not, Warinner said, the players might flip spots on the depth chart at right tackle. If only for the Buckeyes’ season opener against the RedHawks, Fragel has proved himself worthy of starting. “We’ve had a great battle at the right tackle position all during training camp,” Warinner said Monday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “Reid Fragel, Taylor Decker – they are, we think, both going to be really good players for us. Reid is just a little bit ahead, and so he’ll get the nod this Saturday as the starter.” In the end, Fragel’s experience helped separate him from Decker in a tight competition, Warinner said. “Very close race there in terms of there isn’t a lot of separation there,” Warinner said. “Reid’s just older and a little more veteran and just a little more ready to go.” Fragel, formerly a pro-style tight end, volunteered to change positions after first-year coach Urban Meyer was hired for OSU’s coaching job in November, but wound up in a battle with Decker, a 6-foot-7, 313-pound first-year player from Vandalia, Ohio. First-year coach Urban Meyer had previously said that OSU wasn’t functional at right tackle, and that the battle was not one being waged between potential all-Big Ten players. But with Fragel slotted to start and Decker coming off the bench, Warinner thinks highly enough of Decker’s progression that he will get the first-year player into the game when the situation is right. “I’ll pick out a spot early on where I’m going to put him in the game unless, you know, they punt the ball to us and we’re coming off the 2-yard line,” Warinner said. “I might not put him in there for that being the first play of his college career. But, you know, if we have decent field position and it’s early in the game and we have a decent feel for what they’re doing defensively, I’ll throw him in there. “I trust (Decker) and we trust him and he’ll be a good player for us. He’ll play all year.” And remember, playing all year could also mean seizing the starting right tackle position for himself. “I anticipate both (Fragel and Decker) playing pretty well, so, I just think you’ve got to be ready with three tackles there and getting them game experience,” Warinner said. “There are certain strengths that one has that the other doesn’t and vice versa … they’re not mirrored players by any means.” Fragel and Decker were not made available for comment Monday. OSU’s Saturday game against Miami (Ohio) at Ohio Stadium is scheduled to kick off at noon. read more

Ohio State mens golf finishes tied for last place in Carmel Cup

Redshirt-junior Michael Bernard rolls a putt towards the hole during one of OSU’s matches in 2014. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsOhio State men’s golf returned from the West Coast after an underwhelming outing at the season-opening Carmel Cup tournament. Hosted by the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, the Buckeyes teed-off against eight teams, including four ranked in the top-20 at the 54-hole tournament. While navigating one of the premier golf courses in the nation, the Buckeyes, under the leadership of new coach Jay Moseley for the first time, tied for last place with the Arkansas Razorbacks, finishing with a total score of 1107 (+27) at the three-day event. The Buckeyes placed sixth after the first round with a total score of 372 (+12) before finishing seventh in the final two days. Junior Clark Engle and redshirt senior Grant Weaver entered the clubhouse with four birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey on their card. Freshman Will Grimmer played solid for his collegiate debut, carding two birdies and three. The team’s total score was comprised of the top five scores out of its six-man lineup. The five scores that counted for the Scarlet and Gray were Grimmer’s 217 (+1), Engle’s 218 (+2), Sean Busch’s 223 (+7), Weaver’s 228 (+12) and Josh Wick’s 229 (+13), excluding freshman Tee-k Kelly’s score of 234 (+18). Engle, along with Grimmer, shined throughout the tournament. By the final day, Engle, who tied for 16th, recorded 14 birdies — second-most of the tournament — including six in the final round. Engle was one of 10 players who carded an 18 hole score of 69. Grimmer made the most of his debut.During the second round of his first collegiate tournament, he churned in a 4-under 68, which was the lowest round for any player during the three days of competition. He entered the final day in contention for the individual title, as he was only two shots off the lead. Grimmer was unable to capture the individual crown after shooting a 4-over par 76 during the final round. However, the freshman still finished the tournament in a tie for 10th place.The Buckeyes now turn their focus to the Inverness Intercollegiate, which is set to take place on Sept. 21 at Inverness Country Club in Toledo. read more