COLUMBUS, Ohio - By any measure, the 2017 men's lacrosse season at Ohio State was a resounding success. The team set a school-record by winning 16 games, appeared the Big Ten Tournament final and made a memorable run to the NCAA Championship game, a first in program history.
Just as importantly - and impressively - the Buckeyes were winners in the classroom. Nineteen student-athletes carried a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher and were named to the Academic All-Big Ten team, the most of any lacrosse program in the conference. In addition, four players - Noah Best, Lukas Buckley, Freddy Freibott and Tyler Pfister - took home Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honors for having a 3.7 or better GPA in 2016-17. As a whole, 33 out of 45 players earned a 3.0 or higher GPA in the fall semester.
Best, a sport industry major from Toledo, was the only men's lacrosse Big Ten Distinguished Scholar to finish with a perfect 4.0 GPA in both the fall and spring semesters.
"Our men proved this year that off the field and on the field success go hand in hand," said head coach Nick Myers. "Our vision always has been - and will continue to be - that we can win and compete for championships at the highest level while producing men who take full advantage of the elite education that this university provides."
At the national level, Pfister and faceoff specialist Jake Withers were recognized as Scholar All-Americans by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. It marked the sixth year in a row at least one Buckeye has earned a spot on the USILA list. Joe Bonanni and Matt Kawamoto were the program's first honorees in 2012, Dominique Alexander, Logan Schuss and Trey Wilkes were selected in 2013, Joe Meurer was recognized in 2014, in 2015 Turner Evans and Christopher May were honored and in 2016 Carter Brown and Robby Haus were selected.
Pfister, a native of Columbus, Ohio, graduated in August with his master's degree from Ohio State's sports management program. He earned his bachelor's in communications in the spring of 2016. A five-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and three-time Academic All-Big Ten choice, he was a two-time captain for the Buckeyes. He had a perfect 4.0 GPA during the fall semester.
Withers, a team captain from Peterborough, Ontario, earned his bachelor's degree in economics last spring and was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete. A USILA Second Team All-American as a faceoff specialist and the Big Ten Specialist of the Year, he was fourth in the NCAA in faceoff winning percentage in 2017 (.647) and ranked seventh with 7.57 groundballs per game, leading the Big Ten in both categories.
During the summer, several players took their classroom successes and added practical real world experience by securing internships. Some of the companies that they had a chance to work with included: R&A Transportation (Colin Chell), US Lacrosse (Brendan Barger), Schiff and Associates Personal Injury Law Firm (Freddy Freibott) and Northwestern Mutual (Austin Seiple).
2016-17 ACADEMIC SUCCESS AT A GLANCE
• As a team, the Buckeyes finished with a 3.24 grade-point average (3.20 in the fall semester, 3.28 in the spring semester).
• Ohio State had 19 Academic All-Big Ten selections - the most of any lacrosse program in the Big Ten - and eight student-athletes finished with a perfect 4.0 GPA in the spring semester.
• The Buckeyes produced a USILA Scholar All-American for the sixth straight season.
• Ohio State set a program record with four Big Ten Distinguished Scholars (3.7 or better GPA in 2016-17).
• Five current or former players earned degrees at the Spring commencement in May while three others graduated following the summer session in August.