Courtesy of Ohio State athletic department
Heading into the Big Ten Championships, the Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams might be on opposite paths.
Experience could have been a telling factor in Wisconsin Friday as the squads experienced different results in the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.
The two teams traveled to Madison, Wis., to compete against some of the best teams in the country, and while the women’s squad met the majority of their goals, the men’s group fell short of what they wanted to accomplish.
While the women’s team finished 33rd overall, coach Khadevis Robinson had set a number of goals going into the competition and the team achieved most of them.
He wanted more personal best times and, “almost everyone ran a personal best,” said junior runner Meredith Wagner.
Wagner set a new personal record and led the team with a time of 20:35.
Robinson also wanted to beat some Big Ten schools, and his squad finished ahead of Iowa, Purdue, Indiana and Nebraska.
“We set some tough but realistic goals, and I believe I personally accomplished my goal (of a new personal best time) and the team did well as a whole too,” said freshman runner Lexi Aughenbaugh.
While the OSU women only finished sixth out of the 10 conference schools at the meet, the outlook for the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Mich., on Oct. 28 is positive.
“We should have two more girls run in the 20’s, under 21 minutes, and that should change the landscape a little bit,” Robinson said.
If that were to happen, it would give the OSU women’s team four runners under the 21 minute mark.
That would bring them very close to the two top-finishing Big Ten teams at the Wisconsin Invitational. Penn State and Michigan State both had team averages of about 20:41 and were the only Big Ten schools to record four or more sub-21 minute times.
If Robinson’s prediction is correct, it could potentially put the Buckeyes in excellent position to compete for a top spot come tournament time.
The men’s team did not fare as well in Wisconsin, finishing 39th out of 45 teams and falling short of their goal of a top 20 finish.
Prior to the event, men’s associate head coach Brice Allen said he knew inexperience could potentially play a role in his team’s performance.
“We’ve got a very young squad that we’re taking into this meet,” Allen said.
Their inexperience showed in an important statistic, the difference in time between the first runner and the fifth.
“You want to be as close together as possible. That’s the key,” Robinson said.
The OSU men’s team had the fourth longest time between their scoring runners among the 45 teams in Madison.
Two of the three teams with longer spreads finished behind the Buckeyes. The only team that finished ahead of OSU with a worse differential was Arizona. The Wildcats, though, had the two fastest overall runners in the tournament in sophomore Lawi Lalang and senior Stephen Sambu.
While the men’s team did not meet their goal of finishing in the top 20, they were the only team in the tournament that had freshmen finish in four of their five scoring positions.