Zain Shaito Named Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There were a lot of outstanding individual performances at Ohio State this past year, but one stood out among the rest.
Sophomore All-American Zain Shaito led Ohio State’s fencing team to its fourth NCAA Championship in school history, and he was rewarded on Wednesday as the 2011-12 Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year.
A native of Lebanon, Shaito is the second fencer in OSU history to earn the honor, following Andras Horanyi in 2008 after the program’s last NCAA title. In between the two fencers, OSU wrestler J Jaggers, basketball player Evan Turner and men’s volleyball star Steven Kehoe captured the Male Athlete of the Year award at Ohio State.
Other past winners include Art Schlichter (1982), Chris Spielman (1988), Jim Jackson (’91-92), Eddie George (1996), Blaine Wilson (1997), Scoonie Penn (1999), Craig Krenzel (2003) and Troy Smith (2006).
A sophomore foilist, Shaito captured his first NCAA individual championship with a 15-11 win over Stanford’s Turner Caldwell in the final bout of the 2012 NCAA Fencing Championships March 25 in Columbus.
It was that victory which sealed the Buckeyes’ third combined NCAA Championship in the last nine seasons. Shaito contributed 19 victories in qualifying rounds of the title run en route to becoming a First Team All-American and Ohio State’s 12th individual champion.
During the regular season, the Richardson, Texas, product tallied a team-leading 35 victories. He went on to earn bronze at the 2012 Midwest Fencing Conference Championships before turning it on down the stretch to take gold at the regional qualifier and set up his run through the NCAA Championships.
He was a three-time medalist in Junior World Championships as member of the U.S. National Team, and he earned gold at JWC in Italy and Azerbaijan, along with a silver in Belfast, Ireland.
That was all before he got to Ohio State in 2010. During his freshman season with the Buckeyes, Shaito was a Second Team All-American and a first-place finisher at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships.
Shaito now is on the ballot for the Big Ten Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year award, which will be announced during a season-ending awards show on BTN beginning at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 18.
Along with his sister Mona — a freshman on the OSU women’s fencing team— Shaito will also represent Lebanon in the 2012 London Olympics at the foil position. He is just the second OSU men’s fencer to earn a spot on an Olympic team, and the first at foil.
Other candidates for this year's Male Athlete of the Year Award likely included wrestler Logan Stieber, tennis partners Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola, pitcher Jaron Long, volleyball senior Shawn Sangrey, golf senior Alex Redfield and basketball star Jared Sullinger, among others.
Ohio State Male Athletes of the Year
1982 – Art Schlichter, Football
1983 – Chris Perry, Golf
1984 – John Frank, Football
1985 – Robert Playter, Gymnastics
1986 – Mike Lanese, Football
1987 – Butch Reynolds, Track/Field
1988 – Chris Spielman, Football
1989 – Joe Greene, Track/Field
1990 – Mike Rancanelli, Gymnastics
1991 – Jim Jackson, Basketball
1992 – Jim Jackson, Basketball
1993 – Chris Nelloms, Track/Field
1994 – Chris Sanders, Track/Field
1995 – Blaine Wilson, Gymnastics
1996 – * Eddie George, Football
1997 – * Blaine Wilson, Gymnastics
1998 – Hugo Boisvert, Hockey
1999 – Scoonie Penn, Basketball
2000 – Jamie Natalie, Gymnastics
2001 – Jamie Natalie, Gymnastics
2002 – Raj Bhavsar, Gymnastics
2003 – Craig Krenzel, Football
2004 – Dan Taylor, Track/Field
2005 – Mike Nugent, Football
2006 – A.J. Hawk, Football
2007 – Troy Smith, Football
2008 – Andras Horanyi, Fencing
2009 – J Jaggers, Wrestling
2010 – Evan Turner, Basketball
2011 – Steven Kehoe, Volleyball
2012 – Zain Shaito, Fencing
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