Aug. 23, 2006
The men’s team is coming off its best season in school history after the Buckeyes took second at the Big Ten meet and came in 11th at the NCAA championships. The men’s team looks to hold its standing as one of the top three teams in the Big Ten this season and become a Top-10 finisher at the NCAA meet. This will not be an easy task as the Buckeyes will have to replace two-time All-American Brian Olinger. The team will try to replace Olinger with depth.
“With the arrival of Chad Baylo and the return of Matt Buzek, who redshirted last season, we have nine or 10 guys that could be in our Top 5,” Ohio State head coach Robert Gary said. “That is a great thing to have. We are looking to hold our spot in the Top 3 of the Big Ten. We also are going to try to focus on getting into the Top 10 this season at the NCAA meet.”
Youth on the Men’s Team
With only one senior on the team this season, the men’s team will feature a stable of young runners. Despite the fact of a low number of upperclassmen, the men will still have a great deal of experience. Juniors Braden Martinez and John Ealy look to be the leaders of the junior class. Ealy is the top returnee from the 2005 NCAA meet for the Buckeyes with a place of 71st. Martinez finished 116th at NCAA championships last season.
Levi Fox and Jeff See anchor the sophomore class. See was named to the Great Lakes Regional second team as he finished 22nd at the regional meet. See also posted his best 10K time as a Buckeye at the NCAA championships with a mark of 31:12. Fox finished in the Top 10 at three meets in 2005 and finished just out of the team’s Top 5 at both the Big Ten championships and the Great Lakes Regional meet. With the loss of 2005 Great Lakes Regional Runner of the Year in Olinger, Fox will have more chances to finish in the team’s Top 5 this season. Freshmen Chris Olinger, Brian’s brother, and Chad Baylo also look to contribute this fall. Chirs Olinger finished third at the 2005 Ohio Cross Country State Championships and won the 3,200m at the 2006 Division III Ohio Track and Field State Championships in meet record time. Chris Olinger also is the Division III record holder at 3,200m. Baylo could jump right into the Buckeyes Top 5 in 2006 after an impressive career at Springboro High School in Springboro, Ohio. Baylo was the 2005 Ohio Cross Country State Champion for Division I and also won the 3,200m at the 2006 Division I Ohio Track and Field State meet.
“Last season coming back from the NCAA championships, we got together as a team and decided how are we, as a team, going to make this a Top-10 team at the NCAA meet,” Gary said. “We thought it is not just (Brian) Olinger’s low mark that helps us but the biggest thing was can we put five guys in the Top 100. Now I feel that we have a pool of 10 guys that could all finish in the Top 100 at the 2006 NCAA meet, which should, as a team, put us in the Top 10.”
Collins Lone Senior
Glenn Collins will be the only senior on the men’s squad this season and will be looked to for leadership. Collins was one of the most consistent runners for the Buckeyes last season. He finished last year with three Top-5 finishes and also was in the Top 35 at both the Big Ten championship and the Great Lakes Regional.
This season the men’s team will feature an entire roster comprised of runners from the state of Ohio. The men’s team features the best runners from Ohio with three of the Top 4 finishers from the 2005 Ohio High School Cross Country Championships, four of the Top 13 from the 2004 Ohio meet and six of the Top 18 finishers from 2003 Ohio meet. Ohio State will have two Division I champions from the Ohio Cross Country State meet (Baylo 2005 and See in 2003-04). The Buckeyes also have Fox who took fourth and second at the state meet in 2003 and 2004, respectfully. Ohio State also will add Chris Olinger, who finished third at the 2005 Division III Ohio Cross Country State Championships.
Runners of the Week Return
Ohio State will return more Big Ten runners of week to its roster than any other team in the conference. Last season, the Buckeyes had three runners receive the honor in Brian Olinger, Ealy and Bailey. Ealy and Bailey return this season. Ealy earned his runner of the week after winning the Xavier Invitational in the first meet of the season, a 5K in the time of 15:26.34. Bailey earned his runner of the week honor when he took second at the All-Ohio Championships with a time of 25:56.6 in an 8K.
The 2006 season gets underway at the Great Lakes 5K Shootout hosted by Xavier University in Cincinnati Sept. 9. The OSU men won at Xavier last season in its season-opening event. The Buckeyes head south again Sept. 30 for the Louisville Invitational.
Following an off week, Ohio State will look for another strong team effort at the All-Ohio Championships in Delaware. The men’s team has won the last four All-Ohio events and claimed the team title last year despite missing its four top runners, including eventual Great Lakes regional champion Brian Olinger.
The NCAA Pre-National Meet is next Oct. 14 in Terre Haute, Ind., before the Buckeyes gear up for the 2006 Big Ten Championships Oct. 29 at Indiana. The Buckeye men tied their all-time highest finish last season at the league meet with a runner-up score.
The season caps off at the regional and national levels with the Great Lakes Regional Nov. 11 at Bowling Green, Ohio, and the 2006 NCAA Championships Nov. 20 back in Terre Haute. The men’s team performed well at meets last year, ranking an all-time best third in the region and posting an 11th-place score at the national meet.