It has been almost 30 years since Ohio State had a winner in long jump in the NCAA indoor national championship, when Joe Greene won the event in 1989.
Senior Zack Bazile has a chance to end that drought Friday, 29 years later, when Ohio State travels to College Station, Texas, for the the NCAA indoor national championships.
The two-day meet starting Friday is filled with Olympic-level talent, along with some NCAA record holders. The goal for the men’s team is to place in the top 10, something it has not done since 2004.
Texas Tech is listed as the favorite to win the men’s championship and Georgia is expected to win the women’s, according to the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Despite the fact Ohio State is not seen as a favorite to win a team title, Bazile is considered the favorite to win the long jump, having the two farthest leaps this year. The first was set at the Music City Challenge on Feb. 9 at 8.13 meters. He later jumped 8.04 meters at the Big Ten Championships on Feb. 23.
Bazile’s success comes from more than just his speed and strength. He is able to control his speed in a way that times up well with hitting the blocks to launch himself into the air.
“Speed plus height equals distance,” associate head coach Rosalind Joseph said. “The easiest way to think about the long jump is to close your eyes when you are taking off in an airplane. The airplane slows down, then you’re in trouble.”
This week, Bazile’s goal has been to remain healthy and have safe landings, Joseph said.
“There are things in his landing that sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and have nightmares about,” Joseph said.
Junior Nick Gray is currently tied for the fastest time entering the meet with South Carolina’s Ncincilili Titi in the 200-meter dash at 20.45 seconds. Texas Tech’s Divine Oduduru currently has the fastest time this season at 20.25. In 2016, Oduduru competed at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.
Gray is also a member of the 4×400-meter-relay team that will take on a USC team that set an NCAA record this season with a time of 3:01.98. Currently, Ohio State has the eighth-fastest time at 3:05.09.
Senior Nick Demaline is returning in shot put to try to outperform his sixth-place performance last year at the indoor championships and third at the outdoor championships. Demaline has the fifth-farthest throw of the year with a heave of 20.24 meters.
Arizona’s Jordan Geist is viewed as the favorite in shot put. Last year, Geist broke the Pan American Junior Games record with a throw of 22.02 meters.
Senior Cole Gorski made the last qualifying spot for the NCAA championship with a jump of 5.47 meters. The current favorite is South Dakota’s Chris Nilsen, who has the farthest jump this season of 5.80 meters.
Junior Sade Olatoye will enter the weight throw with the fourth-farthest throw of 23.84 meters. She has competed against three women with farther season-high throws this year. In each matchup, Olatoye was out-thrown, including when she threw her personal best at the Big Ten Championship.
Olatoye is also expected to compete in shot put. Currently, she has the 11th-farthest throw in the country with a throw of 17.27 meters.
The women’s 4×400-meter relay has the seventh-fastest time heading into this meet at 3:31.52.
Junior Karrington Winters currently has the second-fastest 400-meter time for Ohio State. However, due to an injury in a previous event, she was not on the 4×400-meter relay team that qualified for the national championship. Winters and all members of that qualifying team will travel to the meet. It is unclear if Winters will be running.
Senior Maggie Barrie will compete in both the women’s 400-meter relay and the 400-meter individual. She just made the last qualifying spot and will be going up against Kentucky freshman Sydney McLaughlin. McLaughlin ran for the U.S. in the 2016 Olympics at the age of 16.