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Ohio State track and field teams off to a fast start

Photo courtesy of Ohio State Athletic Department

The Ohio State men’s and women’s indoor track and field seasons are officially under way. The women have now started their defense of the 2011 Big Ten Indoor Championship, while the men are poised to achieve the same glory this season.

On Friday night, OSU hosted the Buckeye Classic inside the French Field House. The members of the OSU men’s and women’s track and field teams competed against athletes from Ohio University, Wright State University and Shorter University.

The men’s team dominated the competition, with a Buckeye athlete winning all 14 events contested. The women’s team also had an impressive performance; an OSU athlete won 11 of the 15 events contested. The meet served as a tune-up for the rest of the season, and both teams seem prepared for the season to come.

Last season, the OSU women won the program’s first Big Ten indoor track and field title, and as defending champions, they are certainly among the favorites to win the championship in 2012. This is especially true with the return of senior Christina Manning, last season’s Big Ten Athlete of the Year. Manning started this season right where she left off last year, with victories in the 60-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles at the Buckeye Classic.

Coach Karen Dennis said she expects her team to “get better,” and she believes that “great team synergy” will be a big factor in their performance during championship season.

The OSU men’s track and field team finished fifth in the 2011 Big Ten indoor championships, but their sights are set on finishing much higher this season. The Buckeyes got off to a great start by winning every event at the Buckeye Classic. They were led by double victories from junior Donny Roys in the mile run and 800-meter run, and from sophomore Demoye Bogle in the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles.

Not all of the Buckeyes’ stars fared differently at the Buckeye Classic. Senior Thomas Murdaugh, last year’s Big Ten champion in the 400-meter dash, pulled up and dropped out of the race before rounding the final corner on his second lap of the race. As the Buckeyes pursue a conference championship, coach Robert Gary said Murdaugh’s injury isn’t too big of an issue.

Despite Murdaugh’s injury, the men’s team is very confident in the season to come — Bogle even said that the team “should win the Big Ten this year.”

Gary did not make any bold predictions for the championship season, stating the importance of focusing on one meet at a time. Gary said he does believe his team “will certainly make a run” at the conference championship, and that he has “one of the best teams (the program) has had since I have been the head coach.”

Both teams compete next on Jan. 14, in separate dual meets against the school’s arch-rival, the University of Michigan. The women’s track and field will be hosting Michigan at the French Field House, while the men’s team will be competing in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The men’s and women’s track and field teams will attempt to keep their focus on one meet at a time, but their sights continue to remain on glory at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, at which both teams will compete. The Big Ten Indoor Championships will be held Feb. 24-25 in Lincoln, Neb.

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