Medal of Honor Finalist Spotlight
March 29, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio

- The 2016 Ohio State Scholar-Athlete Dinner will be held Tuesday at the Ohio Union, marking the 49th edition of the banquet that recognizes the outstanding academic achievements of Ohio State student-athletes.

Each year, the Scholar-Athlete Dinner is capped with the presentation of the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Each member institution in the conference gives the award annually to the male and female student-athletes in the graduating class who have attained the greatest proficiency in both academics and athletics. The Big Ten Conference office established the award in 1914 for men and an additional award for the top female was instituted in 1982. The award includes a $5,000 postgraduate scholarship. This year, five women and five men are finalists for the Big Ten Medal of Honor. The five men who are finalists for the award are: Jacoby Boren (Football), Chris Diaz (Tennis), Bryce Haynes (Football), Remington Lyman (Rifle), and Zach Mason (Soccer).

With the Scholar-Athlete Dinner approaching, Medal of Honor finalists chatted about their experiences as standouts both athletically and academically at Ohio State.

Jacoby Boren, Football

Looking back at your time at Ohio State, what are some lasting memories you will take with you?Being a Buckeye has been and will always be a great honor. For me it meant following in my both of my brother's footsteps but still creating my own path. I have always embraced the idea that when you take on a challenge, you give it your all. That is how I approached my time at Ohio State. There are too many memories to name, but certainly the friendships I have developed are at the top of that list. Being able to overcome adversity on multiple occasions is something I will remember and I'm sure will help me through situations throughout my life. But the best memory, without a doubt, is the span of six weeks in December and January of my junior season when we dominated in the Big Ten Championship, then beat Alabama pretty convincingly and culminated it all with the National Championship win over Oregon. The determination and focus we each had in doing what we had to do every play at practice, every meeting detail, and just focusing on what was happening in the moment, when it was all over what it amounted to was just unbelievable. We really all believed in each other and it was just a great moment for the team, the university and all of Buckeye Nation.

What are some of the challenges that come with balancing athletics and academics, and how do you meet those tests?
Making mental lists of what needed to be done each day and sticking to the plan helped me succeed both academically and athletically. I think not putting things off is the key to academic success, especially when you break everything down into manageable steps and then do it. There is little time to waste, so you have to make the most of it and be organized, prioritize and have discipline to succeed. 

What does it mean to you personally to be a Buckeye?
It's hard to answer what it means to be a Buckeye, because it means so much in so many different walks of life. From a responsibility standpoint, it means I will always be representing The Ohio State University throughout the rest of my life and I need to recognize that with my actions, what I say and how I approach things. I always want to represent Ohio State and the Buckeye football program well. Beyond that, it means you belong to a very special brotherhood. It’s a close group of men who have all shared the same passion, experiences, sacrifices and successes that can never be understood except by those who have gone through it. Although there's so much more I can say in this regard, I will end by saying it means always being grateful for being given the opportunity to be a Buckeye and remembering to pay forward every chance I get. 

Chris Diaz, Tennis

Looking back at your time at Ohio State, what are some lasting memories you will take with you? Looking back at my time at Ohio State, there are so many memories that I can take with me. Some of the ones that stick out are winning the ITA Team Indoor Championships in 2014, getting to the Final Four of NCAAs in 2013, the long car rides to away matches where we came up with crazy chants and had numerous heated debates, eating a lot of ice cream, and celebrating multiple Big Ten Championships with my teammates and coaches.

What are some of the challenges that come with balancing athletics and academics, and how do you meet those tests?
Balancing athletics and academics can be very challenging. Time becomes limited and it is important to be proactive and stay on top of all the work you need to get done. Managing the stress of being a student-athlete also is extremely difficult. Stress is already a big concern for college students as it is a time to figure out what you want to do with your life, and when you add the full-time job of being a Division I athlete, the stress and pressure can build up. It was important for me to have a good support system around me so I did not have to go through the hard times alone. It is amazing how helpful it can be to just talk to your family and friends about what you are going through.

What does it mean to you personally to be a Buckeye?
Being a Buckeye to me means that you are a part of something much greater than yourself. You belong to an incredible community that immerses you in tradition, excellence and pride. You always have the support of your fellow Buckeyes, and you are always willing to lend your support in return.

Bryce Haynes, Football

Looking back at your time at Ohio State, what are some lasting memories you will take with you?
My favorite memory was, easily, winning the National Championship in 2015. In the last three games of that season our team was stronger than any team I have ever been a part of. I will always look back at that final game and remember how great it felt to celebrate with all my teammates after the game.

What are some of the challenges that come with balancing athletics and academics, and how do you meet those tests?
Being a student-athlete can be very tough at times. I think the best way to handle it is to be deliberate about how you spend your time. When you're at practice, you have to focus all your energy on that. When you're studying, you have to focus solely on that. And once you've taken care of those two things, you need to go out and have a good time doing things you enjoy doing.

What does it mean to you personally to be a Buckeye?
Being a Buckeye is such an incredible experience and one I will take with me for the rest of my life. It means you're part of something great and have been blessed with an opportunity not everyone gets to have. Take advantage of it and remember you represent our great university in everything you do.

Remington Lyman, Rifle

Looking back at your time at Ohio State, what are some lasting memories you will take with you?
Some of my most lasting memories will be of the relationships and good times I've had here at Ohio State. Some of these include building a mattress fort in my room freshman year with my friends I still live with, having a massive snowball fight with the neighbors across the street sophomore year and jumping in the pool from our roof at the beginning of this year. More seriously though, I'll remember all the great times that I had over the past four years. All the football games (beating Michigan all four years!), eating Cane's late at night and of course all of the ups and downs with my team, highlighted by being named All American five times and having the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Championships as an individual in Fairbanks, Alaska, and as a team this past season in Akron, Ohio.

What are some of the challenges that come with balancing athletics and academics, and how do you meet those tests?
I feel that the biggest challenge to balancing athletics and academics was finding that perfect combination of school, athletics and life. Over my four years I've learned that this balance is very difficult to find and I've seen the effects that not having the right balance has on my academics and athletics. This past year, though, I was really able to take what I've learned an put everything together. I had my best season athletically, was very successful in the classroom, held a part-time job at Chase Bank and still was able to find enough time to hang out with my friends. Of course this meant giving up some sleep! But overall, I feel that learning from my mistakes allowed me to figure out what the best combination needed to be and I'll continue to try to maintain this balance as I move forward beyond college.

What does it mean to you personally to be a Buckeye?
To me, being a Buckeye means I can compete in my sport with the full support of the best athletics department in the country while also attending one of the best and most competitive academic institutions out there. So for me, being a Buckeye is having the best of both the athletic and academic worlds at my fingertips.

Zach Mason, Soccer

Looking back at your time at Ohio State, what are some lasting memories you will take with you?
Winning the Big Ten championship my senior season at home against that team up north and scoring my first career goal. Also, scoring the winning goal in the PK shootout against Akron my junior year.

What are some of the challenges that come with balancing athletics and academics, and how do you meet those tests?
The toughest part about balancing school and athletics is giving your best in both. It can be exhausting to have a full day of class, then a long and intense practice followed by a night full of homework. I was able to overcome this challenge by utilizing my resources, such as office hours for professors and our team's support staff, while also learning the importance of having a daily routine.

What does it mean to you personally to be a Buckeye?
To me, being a Buckeye means striving to be elite in any task I am faced with. Even though it is impossible to always achieve success, being a Buckeye is all about committing yourself to maximize your potential as a person, student and athlete.