Ohio State students, faculty and staff flooded the university's rec center Friday morning, but not to get in a workout. They were there to watch an arm wrestling match. One that likely will go down in the OSU record books.
It all started with a painting, one that had been in the Ohio State University student union for the better part of a century. But when the union was demolished to make way for a new and improved version, the painting placed in the Wexner Center vault for safe keeping. But when President Gordon Gee came to the university someone moved the painting to his residence.
Gee developed a fondness for the Alice Schille painting "Children at the Beach." And he wasn't too keen on returning it to what some would call its rightful place. Ohio Union Director Tracy Stuck is one of those people. It seemed neither Gee nor Stuck were willing to back down, so they decided to arm wrestle for the beloved painting.
The crowd appeared to be split on rooting for either Gordon "The Gripper" Gee or Tracy "Strong Arm" Stuck.
Jay Fisher sat eating a bagel. He hadn't quite made up his mind
"President Gee, I guess. I don't know really," Fisher said.
Tiffany Lecklider is an OSU employee. She called her alignment a tough decision.
"I think Tracy. Tracy's gotta be my winner. She wants this really, really bad for our new Ohio Union projects," she said.
Kellie Uhrig held a "Team Tracy" sign. Uhrig, who works at OSU, said her office will be in the Ohio Union.
"They have a special place in the hallway on the second floor between the Staters' Traditions Room and the Ballroom. So it's a special little niche especially for the painting. So definitely want to try to get that back there," Uhrig said.
"Who's ready to see a little arm wrestling today," an announcer asked as the crowd screamed.
At the ring of the bell, the crowd cheered as "The Gripper" and "Strong Arm" went toe-to-toe. But the first round went to Gee.
But "Strong Arm" Stuck showed her muscle and came back to take down "The Gripper" in the second round. The final round was deemed a tie. And that's when Gee showed the sportsmanship any Buckeye would proud of.
"Because you won one, and I won one, and you're a hell of a lot smaller than I am I tell you what I'm going to do, I'm going to let you have it anyway," he said.
Gee insisted the match was not fixed and called it great fun.
"The most important thing is it's about the kids. It's just a way to celebrate. If you can have fun, if a university president can have fun with students then it's the greatest joy of my life," Gee said.
Stuck said she's thrilled to have the painting back, although she said she was surprised Gee handed it over in the end.
"I was shocked because he's been taunting me for a few weeks about it. So I think that was great that he was able to give it, and I didn't think he would. So that was pretty exciting," Stuck said.
The artist of the painting, Alice Schille, was born in Columbus and attended the Columbus Art School, now the Columbus College of Art and Design. Her watercolors are world renowned. Schille passed away in 1955. She was 86.