Courtesy of the OSU Athletic Apartment
The 28th annual Jesse Owens Track Classic falls in the year of the 100th anniversary of Jesse Owens’ birth.
The only outdoor regular season meet that Ohio State hosts, it is held in honor of the late Buckeye and his accomplishments throughout his tenure at the university.
“There is such great history with Jesse Owens,” said Ed Beathea, coach of the OSU men’s track and field team. “It’s just amazing to have had someone as talented as him, such a worldwide icon, to think he practiced here, competed here, wore the uniform. To pay homage to him every year is certainly the right thing to do.”
While Owens was at OSU, he broke world records in the long jump and 100- and 200-yard dashes. He went on to collect four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
More than 35 colleges will be competing in the two-day event at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Friday and Saturday.
“We have Indiana State, Kent State, Michigan State, those schools are bringing full teams,” Beathea said. “I think the meet will probably be a little bit more competitive than it was last year, which is fine for where we (the OSU track and field team) are with the training.”
Friday marks the throwing, steeplechase and distance events, and Saturday will consist of distance-running, middle-running, sprints, hurdles and jumps.
Leading up to the weekend, the Buckeyes have set new personal and school records.
“The Sea Ray Relays was a good meet,” Beathea said. “We broke another school record in the javelin and we did well in the steeplechase and 800-meter, so each weekend we are adding to our progress which is good.”
Freshman OSU men’s track and field member Billy Stanley broke his own school record for the javelin Saturday at the Sea Ray Relays, clearing 72.32 meters (237-3.00).
Fresh from a 3,000-meter steeplechase win at the Sea Ray Relays, redshirt sophomore Jackson Neff will be competing at the event again this weekend.
“As a distance squad in general I think we are coming along pretty well,” Neff said. “I think we are setting ourselves up pretty well.”
Freshman sprinter and hurdler Alexis Franklin said she is feeling confident going into her first Classic weekend.
Franklin was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week March 20 for winning first place in the 400-meter hurdles in 59.28 seconds, ranking second in the NCAA this year, at the Shamrock Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C., March 14-16.
“I am excited (for the meet), but no one can run the race except for you, so when you are out on the track, the only thing you can do is leave everything you have out on the track,” Franklin said.
Beathea said going into the weekend, the most important thing is for athletes to remember the opportunity that they are presented with.
“I always want them to remember and I always want to remind them of the uniform that they are wearing,” Beathea said. “What that means, what that expectation is. Keep it very simple but very clear, competing for a great university with some great tradition and history.”
The Jesse Owens Track Classic is slated to start Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m.