The Ohio State men’s and women’s track and field teams participated in the Buckeye Tune-up Friday at OSU’s French Field House, their final meet prior to the Big Ten Indoor Championship meet.
OSU athletes won seven of the 17 individual events contested for each gender. The men’s and women’s teams each had a two-event winner. Redshirt senior distance runner Adam Green took first place in the men’s mile run with a time of 4:11.25, and followed that with a winning time of 8:28.33 in the 3,000-meter run. On the women’s side, senior sprinter Christina Manning finished first in the 60-meter dash in 7.28 seconds, then won the 60-meter hurdles in 8.11 seconds.
In addition to the event winners, two OSU athletes met automatic qualifying standards for the NCAA Division I Championship in the weight throw. Redshirt senior Matt DeChant met the mark with a throw of 70 feet, 9 1/4 inches, while fellow senior Max Mays also qualified with a throw of 70 feet, 7 inches. Ashland University’s senior Ryan Loughney won the men’s weight throw with a throw of 71 feet, 4 inches.
While the Buckeye Tune-up served as a venue for some of the OSU athletes to perform, others rested this week in preparation for the Big Ten Indoor Championships.
“Some people needed rest and some people need work,” said Karen Dennis, coach of the women’s team. “(Some athletes were) really getting geared up emotionally for Big Tens next weekend.”
Although he won two events, Green said the meet “was more of a training day.”
Heading into the conference championship meet, there is certainly pressure on the women’s track and field team, as they are the defending champions of the Big Ten Indoor Championship. Two women’s athletes also have individual conference titles to defend — Manning was last year’s Big Ten champion in the 60-meter hurdles, while senior sprinter Madison McNary took first place in the 60-meter dash.
“As defending champions, we want to go defend our title, but we are also realistic in knowing that we have to expect people to want to bump us off,” Dennis said. “Sprinters and hurdlers all have to make it back to the finals.”
The men’s track and field team finished fifth at last year’s Big Ten Indoor Championships, but their sights are set on greater accomplishments in 2012.
Redshirt junior Heath Nickles, who cleared a height of 16 feet, 11 1/2 inches and won the Buckeye Tune-up pole vault, said the team is in it to win it.
“We won’t accept anything else,” he said.
Nickles said his individual goals for this weekend are to win the heptathlon and pole vault, stressing the importance of scoring 10 points for the team in each event.
Coach Robert Gary said Nebraska is the team to beat in the Big Ten. He said he believes in his team’s chances to win, because the team “doesn’t bring anybody to the Big Ten meet just to get the experience of getting their butts kicked.”
Senior sprinter Thomas Murdaugh and redshirt junior distance runner Cory Leslie did not compete in Friday’s meet, but will be crucial to the team’s success this weekend. Murdaugh will be attempting to defend his conference title from last year in the 400-meter dash. Leslie finished fourth in the mile run at last year’s meet, but he has been running faster times this season, including a mile time of 3:56.85 at the Penn State National Invitational which not only set a school record, but also met the mark to automatically qualify for the NCAA Division I Championship meet.
The quest to bring the Big Ten Indoor Championships title back to OSU begins Feb. 24, in Lincoln, Neb. The meet concludes Saturday.