The Ohio State men’s track and field team is striving to win its first indoor Big Ten championship in 25 years while the women’s team is trying to capture its first title since 2015 this weekend in Geneva, Ohio.
The 14-team meet has nationally recognized talent with 31 of the 34 events already having a qualifier for the NCAA national championship meet.
“We’re capable, we’re ranked highly. We’ve got to show up, it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t show up,” director of track and field Karen Dennis said regarding both teams.
No. 19 Ohio State has some of the fastest times of any team in the conference, which is why it could dominate the 60-meter dash. Redshirt sophomore Kendall Sheffield is coming off a school-record-breaking 6.63 seconds performance last week, which is the fastest time in the Big Ten this season.
“We haven’t had one [sprinter] as dominant appearing [in the event] as Kendall,” Dennis said.
Junior Nick Gray has the second-fastest time in the Big Ten at 6.66 seconds, and senior Zack Bazile is third (6.68). Freshman Eric Harrison is tied for the sixth-fastest time at 6.73 seconds.
Earlier this year, Bazile made the farthest long jump in the country at 8.13 meters.
Senior Nick Demaline has recorded the highest mark of any Big Ten athlete in shot put, reaching a distance of 19.88 meters.
In the 200-meter dash, Gray has the second-fastest time in the Big Ten at 20.92 seconds. He will run against Penn State freshman Terrance Laird, who lead the conference with a time of 20.79 seconds.
Ohio State has a chance to score big in pole vault. Senior Cole Gorski currently has the second-highest jump in the Big Ten at 5.47 meters. Along with Gorski, junior Coty Cobb set a personal record last week with a jump of 5.42 meters, good for the third-highest in the Big Ten.
In the 800-meter run, sophomore Alexander Lomong has the third-fastest time in the Big Ten at 1:49 minutes. This time was set last week at the Buckeye Tune-up. His toughest challenger will come against Penn State junior Isaiah Harris, who ran a time of 1:47 minutes.
Junior Sade Olatoye returns to the Big Ten championship to repeat her 2017 performance in which she finished first in shot put and weight throw. Minnesota’s Kaitlyn Long is the top competitor for Olatoye to surpass in weight throw.
Olatoye has prepared for the meet by working on her form and technical skills, specifically working on her entry. Over the past couple of weeks, she has been working on getting her right foot turned on her first spin along with getting the ball in better position for her third spin.
Even if Olatoye beats Long, Minnesota could still outscore Ohio State in the weight throw, since it has four other people expected to score in event.
“This is not a time for us to be nervous, it’s a time for us to show up,” Olatoye said.