In honor of the Fourth of July, the LGHL staff is picking their favorite All-Americans from Ohio State. They might not be founding fathers, but who knows? They might end up on Ohio State’s Mount Rushmore someday.
Matt Tamanini: Kelsey Mitchell
If we are talking about Ohio State All-Americans, there is no way that I could go with anyone other than Kelsey Mitchell. Over four seasons from 2015 to 2018, she was named to four All-America teams. In 2015, 2017, and 2018 as a second-team member, and in 2016 she got a first-team nod.
With this bucket, Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell has officially scored more points than any player, man or woman, in Big Ten history. pic.twitter.com/3PYKqSi10l— ESPN (@espn) January 27, 2018
When her career wrapped up at Ohio State, she finished with 3,402 points, which is second only to the all-time NCAA women’s scoring leader, Washington’s Kelsey Plum. The three-time Big Ten Player of the Year averaged 24.4 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game and shot 46.1% from the field — including 40.3% shooting from beyond the arc. During her four year career, Mitchell’s Buckeyes won one out-right B1G title and shared a second.
Despite the bigger names from Ohio State’s football and men’s basketball teams, Mitchell is the absolute epitome of Buckeye excellence. For those in my generation and before, Katie Smith has always been the OSU WBB G.O.A.T., but if we are looking at things objectively, Kelsey Mitchell is undoubtedly the best player in program history, and one of the greatest Ohio State All-Americans in school history.
David Wheeler: A.J. Hawk
Consensus All-American in 2004 and 2005, A.J. Hawk is my choice for the following reasons:
1. I love the name (and, like AJ, prefer the initials to “Aaron James”). Hawk is a real defensive name.
2. He teamed up with Bobby Carpenter (another favorite) to dominate.
3. He married Brady Quinn’s sister and beat Quinn and the hated Irish in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.
4. He was drafted in the first round (fifth overall) and played for my favorite pro team – the Packers – with my favorite pro player – Brett Favre. Hawk, playing nine seasons with Green Bay, still holds the Packers’ all-time record for most total tackles with 922.
5. His hair.
Josh Dooley: Tommy Rowlands
As a Columbus native, I had to go with a local legend as my favorite Buckeye All-American. Tommy Rowlands won two state wrestling titles at Bishop Ready High School, and was named the 1999 National High School Champion. He stayed home to attend The Ohio State University, where he became one of the most accomplished individual athletes in school history.
Rowlands was not just an All-American: he was a 4x All-American for the Buckeyes and OSU Hall of Fame inductee. He wrestled for three NCAA titles, winning two, and set all sorts of records that still stand for the program. What makes him my favorite, is the fact that he went on to represent the good ol’ U.S. of A for many years.
From 2004-2012, Rowlands was a University World Champion, Pan-Am Champion, 2x U.S. Open Champion, and 6x National Team Member. Unfortunately, he never competed in the Olympics – instead being chosen as an alternate in 2008 and 2012. He dominated in Columbus and abroad, and will always be a favorite of mine.
Brett Ludwiczak: James Laurinaitis
My favorite Ohio State All-American is “Lil’ Animal” James Laurinaitis. Even though he grew up in Minnesota, it felt like Laurinaitis was plucked from Ohio like other great Buckeye linebackers Chris Spielman, Tom Cousineau, and Andy Katzenmoyer. Laurinaitis was a three-time All-American and two-time Defensive Player of the Year during his time in Columbus. You can also tell that Laurinaitis loves Ohio State and Columbus since he has made his home in the area with his family after retiring from the NFL. There’s not many Buckeyes that can be held in higher regard than Laurinaitis.
Justin Golba: Christina Clemons
For me, it’s an easy answer. Christina Clemons. The 11-time All-American, 10-time Big Ten Champion and two-time NCAA champion is a Buckeye legend. She is an awesome, feel good story as she just qualified for her first Olympic Games at the age of 31. And not to mention, she is from my hometown of Waldorf, Maryland and went to a high school two miles from mine. As a former high school track athlete in Charles County, she is a legend to me and deservingly so. The most decorated female athlete in Ohio State Athletics history.
Meredith Hein: Jesse Owens
Okay...this might be cheating a little, because technically Jesse Owens did not win All-American honors during his time at Ohio State, but the Olympic gold medalist and greatest track star who ever lived (yeah, I said it) literally used his sport to stand up to tyranny and fascism during the 1936 Olympics — what’s more American than that? The Buckeye Bullet defied Hitler, stomping the dictator’s idea of Aryan superiority into the ground, and demonstrating, even for Americans back home, a message of equality well before the civil rights movement began.
Even with all his accolades (Owens won eight individual NCAA championships at Ohio State), we must remember that Owens was not allowed to live on campus, and experienced racism even as one of the greatest student athletes of his age. His legacy is a reminder of how far we have come and how much work we still have left to do — and the opportunity that exists for America.
Bottom line, Owens was a great American on and off the track, hands down, and we can continue to celebrate him today.