Daniel Zaas / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State men’s track and field team’s top athletes are preparing for the NCAA East Regional preliminaries, which are set to begin Thursday in Bloomington, Ind.
Nineteen Buckeyes will be participating, including junior long jumper Michael Hartfield, fresh off winning the Big Ten Outdoor Championship and being named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Year. Hartfield is seeded fifth in the East, and is looking to extend his successful season Thursday.
“It’s been a long season, but we’ve been training to set us up to peak at this point in the season,” Hartfield said. “I trust my coaches and my training, so I think if I go out and jump like I have consistently this season, I should make nationals just fine. Just got to go out there and compete, simple as that.”
Junior Cory Leslie is seeded seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase event. Leslie placed third at the Big Ten Outdoor Championship with a personal record time of 8 minutes, 45.18 seconds, and is prepared to face his toughest competition of the season.
“With 16 people in the race, it’s going to be important to stay out of trouble and not get lost in the pack,” Leslie said. “I plan on keeping myself in position toward the front and being ready to respond to any moves made.”
The OSU 4-by-400-meter relay team of senior Aaron Roberts, sophomore Korbin Smith, sophomore Marvel Brooks and junior Thomas Murdaugh, will look to build on its recent success of winning the Big Ten title.
“We understand how great of an opportunity we have this year to make NCAA finals,” Roberts said. “We are also aware that if we don’t perform better, our season will end this weekend.”
The 4-by-400-meter relay team is seeded sixth and will attempt to qualify in the final event Saturday. The top 12 qualifiers will participate at nationals. Roberts said he knows his team has what it takes to make the cut.
“With those things on our mind,” he said, “we are focused for this weekend and we are ready to execute a great race.”