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Ohio State men’s, women’s cross country teams prepare for Big Ten championships

The Ohio State men’s and women’s cross-country teams ran among an elite field Friday at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, and finished 17th and 38th, respectively.

In Madison, Wis., the Buckeyes were a part of one of the most competitive cross country invitationals in recent memory. Twenty of the 40 men’s teams competing were ranked with the women’s field featuring 19 ranked teams.

OSU men’s head coach Robert Gary said he was pleased with how his team performed even though they were not at full strength. The team’s top runner, redshirt senior Jake Edwards, had to miss the race because of a hamstring injury.

“It’s one of the better races we’ve had in a big invitational, especially without our No. 1 guy up there,” he said.

The women were not as happy with their performance.

“I’m very disappointed. I thought the team got out very poorly and didn’t move well throughout,” said OSU women’s assistant coach Chris Neal. “It really was just a bad performance from top to bottom.”

The men had a team score of 464, finished fifth among Big Ten schools and beat six top-30 teams. With Edwards out, junior Donny Roys led the way for the Buckeyes, finishing 54th overall and completing the eight kilometer race in 24:33. Redshirt senior Taylor Williams finished second for the team in 24:40, 71st overall.

Two freshmen runners led the way for the women. Nicole Hilton and Michelle Thomas were the Buckeyes’ top-two runners, finishing 129th and 154th overall with times in the six kilometer race of 21:29 and 21:38, respectively. OSU scored 898 points in their 38th place finish.

Both teams said there were things they could have done better during the race.

Running as a pack and having a small split from the first runner to the fifth is something both teams have stressed.

“We certainly need to close it up. I’d like to see us closer to a 20-second spread,” Gary said.

“We were packed up at the beginning but at the end we had a 49-second spread,” Neal said. “We’re still not committing to running as a pack the whole way through.”

The Buckeyes have two weeks to improve on what they need to work on. The Big Ten Championship meet is Oct. 30 in Champaign, Ill.

Both teams are confident that they will run well and finish high as a team in Champaign.

“I think in two weeks we’ll have to take this (meet) and use it as motivation,” Williams said. “I think we’ll finish a little stronger in two weeks.”

“We need to run as a team and if we carry ourselves as a team, I think that’ll carry us through,” Hilton said. “We know that we have the talent to get where we want to.”

The men will run at the Eastern Michigan Fall Classic on Oct. 21 in Ypsilanti, Mich., before the Big Ten Championships. The women will take next weekend off before running in Champaign, Ill., on Oct. 30.

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