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Feb. 21, 2007

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s track and field team heads to the University of Illinois of the 2007 Big Ten Championships. The meet will be held Saturday and Sunday in the Armory in Champaign, Ill.

BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Days: Saturday – 9 am. – 5:20 pm. Sunday – 10 am. – 3:30 pm.
Venue: Armory
Meet Information: www.fightingillini.com

LAST WEEK: BUCKEYE INVITATIONAL
The Ohio State played host to the Buckeye Invitational Saturday in French Field House. Sophomore Ayrizanna Favours clocked a personal-best time of 7.43 to win the 60-meter dash. Veronica Jatsek had season-best and winning marks in both throw events.

Favours’ 60m mark rates fifth all-time at Ohio State and serves as a provisional qualifier for the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships. Teammate Bever-Leigh Holloway finished second in 7.77. Later in the day, Holloway added the top time in the 60m hurdles at 8.9. Chandra Krempel clocked the best 400m mark of the day at 57.77 and took second (25.95) behind teammate Saryna Ferguson (25.55) in the 200m.

In the field, Jatsek posted a 2007 best with a winning mark of 49-7 3/4 in the shot. She added a winning heave in the weight as well, measuring 68-0 1/2. Her mark in the weight served as a NCAA provisional qualifier.

Jessica Stringer scored a season-best height to tie for first in the high jump. She cleared 5-11 1/4. Kim Willet’s 11-6 1/4 mark was good enough to win the pole vault, while Veronica Vance hit the top measure in the triple at 39-3 1/4.

In distance events, Ohio State senior Melanie Price won the mile at 5:10.84, while Ashley Jones took first in the 800m at 2:18.43. Melissa Converse was first in the 3,000m event, finishing in 10:08.97.

OHIO STATE TAKES BOTH BIG TEN ATHLETE OF THE WEEK AWARDS
Sophomore Ayrizanna Favours claimed her second career Big Ten track athlete of the week award and sophomore Veronica Jatsek claimed her first league field athlete of the week award Tuesday.

Favours takes home her second career Big Ten honor exactly one year after claiming her first Feb. 21, 2006. Favours led the Buckeyes on the track Saturday at the Buckeye Invitational with an NCAA provisional mark of 7.43 to win the 60-meter dash. Her time is the fifth best mark in Ohio State history and is the third different NCAA provisional mark for Favours this season. Favours also has provisional marks in the 400-meter dash (53.47) and she is also a member of school record-holding 4×400-meter relay (3:38.62).

Jatsek took home her first weekly award by leading the Buckeyes in the field at the Buckeye Invitational. Jatsek won the shot put and weight throw with season best marks on both events. She claimed top honors the weight with an NCAA provisional mark of 68 feet, 1 ½ inches and won the shot put with a toss of 49-7 3/4. Jatsek’s mark in the weight is the best in the Big Ten and ranks fifth in the country this season. It also is the fourth-best mark in Ohio State history. Her mark in the shot is fourth in the Big Ten this season. Jatsek shared the award with Peaches Roach of Iowa, who hit 6-0 in the high jump.

WOMEN SET RECORD IN 4×400-METER RELAY AGAIN
At the New Balence Invitational the Buckeye set the school record in the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 3:39.77.

With this mark the team of Chandra Krempel, Ashley Caldwell, Ayrizonna Favours and Jenna Harris topped the mark last season by .18 seconds. All except Caldwell were members of the team that set the mark a season ago.

A week later at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge the same team broke that record with a time of 3:38.68.

This NCAA provisional mark is not that surprising because both Favours and Harris are currently ranked in the Top 10 in the country in the 400-meter dash.

The time is currently the third best time in the Big Ten this season and is the 18th best 4x400m relay time in the country.

WOMEN IN THE NATIONAL RANKS
In the 400-meter dash the Buckeyes have two of the Top 10 times in the country this season with Jenna Harris (fifth-53.27) and Ayrizonna Favours (eighth-53.47).

With a time of 3:38.68 the women’s 4×400 relay team are 19th in the country in the event.

Jessica Stringer’s jump of 5-11 1/4 is tied for the 15th in the country.

Veronica Jatsek is also in the national rankings in the weight throw with her throw 68-0 1/2. Jatsek is currently ranked fifth nationally.

BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN RANKS
The Buckeyes have several women in the Top 5 in there events. Senior Jenna Harris is second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.39 at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.

This time was a personal best for Harris and the second best in Ohio State history in the event. The time is also in the Top 25 in the country this season. Ayrizanna Favours is currently third in the 60m with a time of 7.43 at the Buckcye Invitational.

Harris also has is also third in the Big Ten in the 400-meter dash with her time of 53.27. Harris is followed by Favours with a time of 53.47. These times also provisional qualifies them for the NCAA championships.

The women’s 4×400-meter relay team is currently third in the league with it’s time of 3:38.68 at the Sykes-Sabock Challenge.

Jessica Stringer, a three time Big Ten champion in the high jump, is tied for second in the Big Ten season with a jump of 5-11 1/4. Th jump is tied for 15th in the country this year.

In the weight throw Veronica Jatsek is leading the Big Ten with her NCAA provisional toss of 68-0 1/2. That mark came at the Buckeye Invitational and is the best weight throw by a non senior by 11-9 1/2.

BUCKEYES INK STANDOUT HIGH JUMPER
Karen Dennis, Ohio State women’s track and field head coach, announced Friday the signing of recruit Laura Allred, a high jumper from Cypress, Texas. A participant in the 2006 U.S. Junior Nationals meet, Allred owns a personal-best mark of 5 feet, 8 inches.

Allred holds the high jump record at Cy-Fair High School and helped the team to district championships in each of the last two seasons. A participant in the 2006 U.S. Junior Nationals meet, Allred claimed the 2005 and 6 district high jump titles. She also was named district jumper of the year the last two seasons.

“We are excited about Laura signing in the early signing period, Dennis, in her first season as Ohio State head coach, said. She is the fourth best high school high jumper returning for the 2007 year. She is smart, highly motivated and really studies her craft. We believe with hard work she will become one of the finest high jumpers in our conference, and nationally. It’s also good to have made an impact on the great state of Texas.”

Allred was a 2006 Jr. Olympic qualifier and National Youth Elite Athlete All-American. She was named to the 2006 All-Greater Houston Track and Field Team after taking third place at the Texas Relays. Overall, Allred has 18 event titles in her scholastic career.

A Special Olympics volunteer, Allred is a member of the Cy-Fair honor roll and serves as a mentor in her community.

THERE IS NO HALTING HARRIS
Jenna Harris is making the most of her senior season and rewriting the Ohio State record books. Harris has taken aim at two school record so far this season.

Harris as a member of the 4×400-meter relay team set a record at the New Balance Invite with a time of 3:39.77. Harris was also apart of the team that broke that record a week later in a time of 3:38.63.

Harris almost took down another school record in the same day. In the 60-meter dash Harris set a personal best time of 7.39 just .07 off the school record.

Harris second in the Ohio State record book in the 400-meter dash with her time of 53.27 at the Kentucky Invitational. Harris is followed closely by current Buckeye Ayrizanna Favours, who ran the same time at the Indiana Team Classic.

DOING THE RECORDS NO FAVOURS
In only her second season sophomore Ayrizanna Favours is making a name for herself as one of the best 400-meter runners in Ohio State history. She currently holds the three of the top seven time in Ohio State history in the 400 (3rd-53.47, T4th-54.14).

Favours has also been a member of the last three 4×400-meter relays teams to break the school record (2006-3:39.95; 2007, Armory-3:39.77; 2007 Sykes-Sabock-3:38.63).

Favours time at Penn State provisional qualifies her for the NCAA championships and it is the eighth best time in the country.

WILLING HER WAY TO THE TOP
Sophomore Kim Willet tied the third best mark in school history in the pole vault last week with her winning jump at Akron of 11-11 3/4.

This gives Willet the second and third best marks in Ohio State history in the pole vault.

Willet is still after Becky Heintz school record of 12-5 1/2 set in 2004.

2007 OHIO STATE TRACK AND FIELD OUTLOOK
Karen Dennis begins her first season as head coach of Ohio State women’s track and field in 2007. A split program for the first time since 1993, the women’s team returns several accomplished veterans, who have experienced success in Big Ten competition and on a nation scale. That group will have the opportunity to mesh with a talented assembly of newcomers in 2007.

“I am excited for this opportunity,” Dennis, a Detroit native who ran collegiately at Michigan State, said. “We plan to make great strides in this new era at Ohio State and refocus attention to the superior product we have here and move in a winning direction.

“Ohio State has a great tradition. There are so many great teams here and I’m proud to be a part of that. I want to make Ohio State the premier team in the conference and a top team nationally.”

Dennis, in her third stint as a head coach, having previously directed the Michigan State and UNLV women’s programs, welcomes back a pair of Big Ten champions in sprinter Jenna Harris and high jumper Jessica Stringer. Both All-Big Ten and All-District NCAA Academic award winners, Harris and Stringer have combined to claim five Big Ten titles in their careers. Harris won the 60-meter and 100-meter dashes at the 2005 indoor and outdoor Big Ten meets, while Stringer has won the last three league high jump titles at the 2006 indoor and 2005 and ’06 outdoor meets.

Fellow seniors Janell Mitchell, Melanie Price and Veronica Vance also add leadership. Price, who owns the Ohio State record in the steeplechase, will captain a veteran distance squad. Mitchell will represent the Buckeyes in sprints, hurdles, relays and jumps, while Vance will look to score again at the Big Ten meet in the long and triple jump events. Vance, a transfer in 2005 from Bowling Green, topped the Buckeyes in the long and triple jumps during both the indoor and outdoor campaigns and will vie for a league crown this season.

Several underclassmen gained valuable experience in 2006. In her first season with the Scarlet and Gray, Ayrizanna Favours earned All-Big Ten second-team honors in the outdoor 400 meters and qualified for her first NCAA Mideast Regional. Fellow sophomores Bever-Liegh Holloway (hurdles), Jessica Jones (sprints/relays) and Chandra Krempel bolster a solid Buckeye sprints squad and combine with Harris and Mitchell to present a formidable relay units as well. The group set the OSU indoor 4x400m relay record last season, turning in a 3:39.95.

Kim Willet, Ohio State’s pole vault record-holder, is back for her sophomore season as well, while classmate Veronica Jatsek is the top returning thrower.

DENNIS COMPLETES COACHING STAFF
In August, Ron Davis and Qingyi Zheng were named women’s track and field assistant coaches by head coach Karen Dennis. Davis will serve as distance coach and Zheng will guide field and multi-event athletes. Davis comes to Ohio State from South Alabama and Zheng last coached at Michigan State.

Both Davis and Qingyi Zheng (SHIN-yee ZENG) have coached track and field for more than 30 years.

“I’m excited both Ron and Qingyi decided to join our staff,” Dennis said. “They have the experience to hit the ground running and provide quality coaching our student-athletes deserve. I am familiar with both coaches and I think they will add that extra ingredient to move our program in a winning direction.”

Davis, a former track and field and cross country head coach at New Orleans and Maryland-Eastern Shore, headed the South Alabama distance program the last four seasons and guided the Jaguars to new levels of success in both cross country and track. Last season, he mentored Vincent Rono to South Alabama’s first individual NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the 1,500-meter run.

In the 2006 indoor season, South Alabama’s men’s distance team dominated the Sun Belt Conference championships, becoming the first unit in league history to sweep the 800m, mile, 3,000m, and 5,000m events. The men’s team also established six team records during the outdoor schedule.

Prior to his stint at USA, Davis directed the New Orleans women’s cross country program to a Sun Belt Championship in 2000, the first in school history.

Zheng previously coached with Dennis at UNLV from 1997-2002. He then directed field and multi-events at Michigan State until 2005.

During Zheng’s tenure at UNLV, the Lady Rebels finished second in the Mountain West Conference each of his last three seasons and eight individuals claimed league titles. Zheng also was an assistant coach on the 2001 U.S. Women’s Track and Field team for the World University Games in Beijing, China. Zheng returned to Beijing in August as jumps coach of the U.S. team at the 2006 World Junior Championships.

Prior to his stint at UNLV, Zheng was a men’s assistant coach at the University of Idaho from 1993-97. While at Idaho, the Vandals won the Big Sky Outdoor Track and Field championship in 1995 and 1996, and the 1997 Big West Outdoor Track and Field championship.

UP NEXT
The Buckeyes will head to the Alex Wilson last chance meet held on the campus of Notre Dame on March 2-3.