If the Ohio State men’s track team falls to Michigan on Sunday, coach Robert Gary and his team will be losing more than a track meet.
High on the wall next to Gary’s desk sits “The Dual” pennant. Across the top of the half-yellow, half-gray pennant, the words “THE DUAL” are emblazoned in bold letters just above the logos of OSU and Michigan.
OSU will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., on Sunday to take on Michigan and try to pick up its fourth straight win against the Wolverines.
“April 5 is my birthday and you get that if you win,” Gary said. “I always say it’s all I want for my birthday.”
“The Dual” rivalry was renewed in 2008 after a 15-year hiatus, and Gary’s athletes say they understand how important this event is.
“I’m new here. The importance of the event has been instilled in me real quick,” said junior Michael Hartfield, who participates in the long, triple and high jumps.
Senior hurdler Aaron Roberts said, “It’s a big deal.”
The Buckeyes lately have seen success against the Wolverines. On Jan. 15, OSU claimed “The Dual” pennant for a third time by defeating Michigan, 88-74. Gary said he expects similar results when his team travels north.
“Their program has been a little bit down,” he said, “and we’ve been up.”
But Gary and his team aren’t looking ahead. As with every event against their archrival, the Buckeyes know the Wolverines will challenge them.
“They’re banged up,” Roberts said, “but they’re solid from top to bottom.”
“We were two seconds and two inches away from losing the indoor one,” he said. “It’s always been tight every year we’ve done it. On a piece of paper, it’s incredibly even going into it.”
“The Dual” will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor.