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Column: Let’s hear it for the ladies; Ohio State women’s teams thrive this winter

It wasn’t a rough winter for the Buckeyes — if you were watching the women

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Mark Stewart / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK
Jami Jurich Jami Jurich puts her Ohio State journalism degree to good use, working as professional copywriter by day, SB Nation contributor by night.

Much has been written about Buckeye sports this winter. Men’s basketball, which is easily the most accessible winter sport in mainstream television coverage and news, didn’t really turn on until the Big Ten Tournament run.

Until then, there have been nearly daily calls to fire Coach. There has been endless griping on Twitter. People have turned off their TVs and called it a day.

The season was called “rough” or “unwatchable.” Even I am guilty of this – if you’ve listened to the Play Like a Girl podcast at all in recent months, you know I placed all my hope in the women, so when they had their mid-season losing streak, I did not handle it well despite it being relatively short-lived.

I still watched the men. I can’t stand people who give up on their team through one tough season, and even worse in my eyes are people who jump back on the bandwagon when things get good (like they did in the tournament). But I griped about it like the rest of you.

What we should have been doing was expanding our horizons. Because just below the surface of this long winter, the ladies of Ohio State sports were having the times of their lives.

While we griped about a tough winter for Ohio State sports, we should have been paying attention.

This is inclusive, of course, of the much-discussed and highly successful women’s basketball team who garnered a No. 3 seed in the tournament after a very impressive Big Ten Tournament run.

They accomplished this in spite of being plagued by injuries from the outset, and it seems like they are only now reaching their maximum potential, which included upending No. 1-seed Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament to reach the final.

But did you know the women’s ice hockey team is the best women’s ice hockey team in the country? I didn’t until their win last Saturday against No. 8 Quinnipiac secured them a spot in the Frozen Four and I finally saw some coverage about them.

From everything I’ve read, they were unfazed when they went down by a goal in the 19th minute of the first period. Rather, that was the wake-up call that kickstarted them for the rest of the game. They played with intense physicality, they capitalized on power plays to keep the pressure on, and not only did the Buckeyes secure a 5-2 win against a top-10 opponent, but they also outshot them 24-3.

The women of the ice are entering their third consecutive Frozen Four, this time with a No. 1 ranking. And I—a person who actively seeks out non-mainstream sports news—am still just now hearing about it.

Did you know Women’s Gymnastics is ranked No. 15 and finished their regular season with a program record home score, the second-highest score ever achieved in program history?

They head into the Big Ten Championships this weekend with top-20 rankings on three apparatuses (13th on floor, 14th on vault, and 17th on bars). Freshman all-around gymnast Payton Harris is ranked 10th in the league on the beam. You can watch their Big Ten Championship meet on the Big Ten Network at 5:30 p.m. ET this Saturday, March 18.

I am religious about watching swimming at the Olympics, but I had no idea the women’s swimming and diving team is ranked No. 5 in the country heading into the NCAA Championships in Tennessee this week. The Championship meet will take place from March 15-18.

The Buckeyes have top-10-seeded swimmers in seven different events, with senior Amy Fulmer earning a top-10 seed in all three of her individual events (4-seed in the 200 free, 6-seed in 100 free, 10-seed in the 50 free).

Did you know the women’s indoor track and field team competed in the 2023 NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend and broke records while doing so?

Adelaide Aquilla finished her Ohio State career with her fourth NCAA title in shot-put, breaking her own program record for an indoor personal best of 19.28m.

The 4x400 relay team, comprised of Alyssa Marsh, Bryannia Murphy, Chanler Robinson, and Jaydan Wood, finished 8th, breaking their own program record for a second time this season. Their previous program record had been set at the 2023 Big Ten Championships.

I suppose all this is to say, it actually hasn’t been a rough winter for Buckeye sports. If we were paying closer attention, or perhaps changing the channel instead of turning off the TV altogether, we might have found that the ladies were flying under the radar (and in some cases, literally through the air), giving us much to celebrate this winter and much to pay attention to for the future.