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Ohio State cross country sets sights on NCAA Championships

The Ohio State men’s and women’s cross-country teams look to redeem themselves at a championship meet this weekend and qualify for the NCAA Championships.

The Buckeyes will run at the Great Lakes Regionals on Saturday in Toledo. The men and women are looking to rebound from their fifth- and ninth-place finishes, respectively, at the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 30.

Finishing close to the top of the field is the goal for both teams. A top-two finish results in an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, but with highly ranked teams on both sides, OSU is aiming just outside second place.

The No.1-ranked Wisconsin Badgers and No. 7 Indiana Hoosiers highlight the men’s field, with Big Ten Champion Michigan State as the leader on the women’s side.

“I think we need to be third to make it to nationals,” OSU men’s head coach Robert Gary said. “That’s certainly the No. 1 goal for the season, so we’ll see.”

Redshirt senior Taylor Williams agreed with his coach.

“The goal is always to get one of those top-two automatic spots. Realistically, those spots will go to Wisconsin and Indiana,” he said. “I think third would definitely put us in a good position.”

Women’s assistant coach Chris Neal said the women want to repeat their regional-meet success from years past.

“We’ve been top five (at the Great Lakes Regional) two years in a row and we’re looking to extend that streak to three years,” he said.

Tightening up the spread from their No. 1 to No. 5 runner will be the key to success for OSU this weekend, according to the coaches.

“I’d like to see us get five to six guys on a 20-second spread,” Gary said.

Neal echoed similar thoughts for the women.

“We’ll need to run the first half of the race like we did (at the Big Ten Championships) and clean up the back half of our pack,” Neal said.

Tori Brink, a junior on the women’s team, is confident her team’s spread will tighten.

“We all train together and run together and we are always right there with each other, it shouldn’t be any different in a race,” she said.

The men will not be at full strength for the third meet in a row. Jake Edwards, a former Big Ten Runner of the Week, injured his hamstring at the Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 30 and hasn’t run competitively since.

With Edwards out, junior Donny Roys and Williams will lead the way for the men. Roys was the Buckeyes top runner at the Big Ten Championships, finishing 19th in 24:21. Williams covered the 8K-course in 24:24 on way to a 21st place.

Junior Tori Brink and redshirt senior Jordan Jennewine finished 23rd and 32nd, respectively, at the Big Ten Championships and should lead the way for the women on Saturday.

Based on how they perform on Saturday, the Buckeyes cross-country seasons will either come to an end, or will continue with a berth in the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 21.

 

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