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Track and field: Buckeyes bring momentum back to Columbus for Jesse Owens Classic

Ohio State freshman Andre Jeff crosses the finish line in 4×400-meter relay to seal the 2018 men’s track and field Big Ten championship in Geneva, Ohio on Feb. 24. Credit: Ethan Clewell | Lantern reporter

Ohio State will switch roles from guest to host at the Jesse Owens Classic this weekend in Columbus.

The meet made is up of Division I, Division II and Division III programs, along with some professional athletes. It also is Ohio State’s only outdoor home meet.

“I think it’s going to be a really fun meet, it’s my last time competing in front of the home crowd,” senior Chantel Ray said. “I’m just going to go out and have fun,”

Ohio State is coming off its toughest meet of the season, the Tennessee Relays. The Buckeyes did make a lasting impression, especially with their younger talent. A pair of freshmen stood out in last week’s highly competitive meet: Eric Harrison Jr. and Andre Jeff.

Harrison, who has the fastest 100-meter time on the team at 10.28 seconds and is currently qualified for the NCAA Regional meet, finished second in the 200-meter dash and was on the 4×100-meter relay team that placed second.

Jeff, who has the fastest 400-meter time on the team and also is currently qualified for the NCAA Regional meet, placed second in the 400-meter dash and was on the winning sprint-medley team.

“The future looks bright,” coach Joel Brown said.

Men’s preview

Saturday, in particular, looks bright for both Harrison and Jeff because they held their weight in last week’s meet that included  track-and-field stars Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman. This week’s meet does not have nearly have the same strength of competition.

In the 100-meter dash this weekend, Harrison will have his fastest competition coming from other Buckeyes. Ohio State’s 4×100-meter relay members are all in the first heat, the fastest heat.  

This week’s 4×100-meter relay team contains senior Duan Asemota, junior Nick Gray, senior Zack Bazile and Harrison. This specific lineup has set the fifth-fastest time in the country.

“It will be a pretty stout team,” Brown said.

Gray is set to run in the 4×100-meter relay, 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. However, that may change depending on his health.

In the 110-meter hurdles, junior Dauan Seward is set to go up against an All-American, Youngstown State’s Chad Zallow. Seward also is set to compete in triple-jump, and he will enter with the best performance in the field by 0.6 meters.

Women’s preview

Ray last week had the toughest completion out of all of the athletes. She ran against Kendra Harrison, the world-record holder in the 100-meter hurdles. This week, she will be the favorite. She will be going up against Wright State’s Cassandra Lloyd, who has a faster personal record, but hasn’t competed since June.

No matter who has been on the starting blocks next to her, Ray has the mindset to stay in her lane.

“I don’t worry about my time or anybody else’s time. I just run my race,” Ray said.

Ray also is set to compete in the 4×100-meter relay, a challenge Brown wants Ray to face.

“You have to sprint. You can’t just do hurdles,” Brown said.

Throughout the season they have worked on her technical efficiency in the hurdles along with her sprint speed. This week she has been focused on minor improvements on her form in getting over the hurdles and her speed between hurdles.

“Usually I back off and people start pulling away from me,” Ray said.

Ohio State’s shot put will be going up against a very familiar face in junior Sade Olatoye, a Buckeye who will throw unattached. Olatoye was the Big Ten Indoor Champion for Ohio State in shot put this past indoor season.

Other notes

The seniors won’t be honored at the meet, but were honored at a private banquet Thursday night.

This season Ohio State has traveled more than 5,000 miles for meets. This home meet gives Ohio State a rest from travel, and it allows the Buckeyes to stay in Columbus the weekend before finals.

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