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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The road to the national championships continues for the Ohio State men’s track and field team this Thursday as the Buckeyes travel to Greensboro, N.C., for the 2010 East Regional Preliminaries.

The 2010 outdoor season introduces a new format for NCAA championship qualification. Whereas previous years featured four regional championships hosted across the country, the format is now narrowed to two preliminary rounds, with teams east of the Mississippi River competing at the East regional, and schools west of the Mississippi taking to the track in the West prelims. The Top 12 athletes/relay teams in each event will automatically advance to the 2010 NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 9-12.

“We are all very excited for regionals,” Ohio State head coach Robert Gary said. “We have good representation in all event areas, and if we put together a performance like we did at the conference meet, we should qualify a sizable group for the national championships.

“Even though we performed well at the Big Ten meet, the third-place finish was definitely a disappointment,” Gary continued. “As a result, we want to come out with a good effort and build toward our ultimate goal of finishing in the Top 20 at the NCAA championships.”

Elon Simms and Aaron Roberts will be first on the track for Ohio State, competing Thursday in the first round of the 400m hurdles at 3:30 ET.

Preliminary Basics
Days: Thursday, May 27 (11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. ET); Friday, May 28 (11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.) and Saturday, May 29 (11:00 a.m. – 8:50 p.m.)
Venue: Irwin R. Belk Track at Aggie Stadium – Greensboro, N.C.
Host: North Carolina A&T University
Live Results: http://www.ncaa.com/sports/c-otrack/champpage/c-otrack-div1-east-index.html

Buckeyes Competing at the East Regional Prelims
Stephen Robinson – 200m dash
Thomas Murdaugh – 400m dash
Elon Simms – 400m hurdles
Aaron Roberts – 400m hurdles
Daniel White – 800m run
Jeff See – 1500m run
Adam Green – 3000m steeplechase
Cory Leslie – 3000m steeplechase
Ryan Blake – high jump
Korbin Smith – long jump
Matt DeChant – shot put
Tyler Branch – shot put
Max Mays – hammer throw
Thomas Davis – hammer throw
4x400m relay (Smith, Simms, Murdaugh and Brandon Woodard)

Top 25 Teams Competing in Greensboro
No. 1 Florida
No. 5 LSU
No. 8 Florida State
No. 9 Auburn
No. 10 South Carolina
No. 13 Mississippi State
No. 15 Georgia
No. 16 Mississippi
No. 17 Virginia Tech
No. 23 Alabama
No. 24 Penn State

The Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State is led on the track by a pair of All-Americans in senior Jeff See and sophomore Thomas Murdaugh.

A four-time All-American in both track and cross country, See is one of the top middle distance runners in the nation, having twice competed in the 1500m at the NCAA championships. Highlights during the indoor season included a sixth-place finish at the NCAA championships, a sub-four minute mile at the Meyo Invitational (3:58.82, second-best in OSU indoor history) and a time of 7:57.14 in the 3000 run, the third-best in school history. The senior is coming off of two fourth-place finishes at the Big Ten outdoor championships.

Sophomore Murdaugh enjoyed a breakout freshman season in 2009, competing in the 400m at both the indoor and outdoor national championships while earning All-American honors during the outdoor season. The Dublin, Ohio product was the class of the Big Ten during the indoor season, capturing Athlete of the Year awards from both the Big Ten and U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), along with Big Ten championships in the 400m and 4x400m relay. He concluded the indoor campaign with a ninth-place finish at NCAAs. In his two years with the Buckeyes, Murdaugh has collected five Big Ten titles, the most recent a win in the 4x400m relay at the Big Ten outdoor championships May 16.

Korbin Smith has enjoyed a tremendously successful first-year campaign for the Buckeyes, capturing a pair of conference titles at the Big Ten outdoor championships. The freshman dominated the field in the long jump on his way to an individual championship, and was instrumental in helping OSU’s 4x400m relay team to its fourth-consecutive conference title – he will look to continue the fast start to his career this weekend in Greensboro.

All-American Matt DeChant is another Buckeye leader in the field events. Although his 2010 outdoor campaign has been uneven, DeChant is a more than capable performer for Ohio State, having finished 10th in the shot put at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships. The sophomore is fresh off a third-place finish in the shot at the Big Ten outdoor meet two weeks ago.

Five Buckeyes Named First-Team All-Big Ten
Five members of the Ohio State men’s track and field team were named first-team All-Big Ten by the conference office on May 19.

Stephen Robinson and Korbin Smith’s individual conference titles earned the duo spots on the coveted All-conference list. Three members of the Buckeye 4x400m relay team – Elon Simms, Brandon Woodard and Thomas Murdaugh – joined Robinson and Smith as first-team selections. Max Mays, runner-up in the hammer throw, was among the second-team honorees, his first decoration as a Buckeye.

Simms was also selected as the OSU recipient of the Sportsmanship Award, given to student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through service, citizenship and academics. The Buckeye senior is now a candidate for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the league will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

Buckeyes Remain Third in USTFCCCA Great Lakes Regional Rankings
Ohio State held firm to the No. 3 spot in the May 18 edition of the Great Lakes regional rankings by the USTFCCCA.

With 674.64 team points, the Buckeyes trail Big Ten rivals Wisconsin (838.73) and Indiana (689.18) in the region. Rounding out the Top 5 are in-state foe Akron and Michigan State.

The regional rankings – a new concept for the 2010 season – are designed to measure a team’s overall depth, whereas the national poll places greater emphasis on national championship contenders on a team’s roster. Based on this formula, OSU ranks among the Top 20 teams nationally.

Top 50 Buckeyes
13 members of the Ohio State men’s track and field team are ranked among the Top 50 in individual event competition by the USTFCCCA. A look at where the Buckeyes stand:

Jeff See – No. 14 in the 3000m; No. 14 in the 5000m
Thomas Murdaugh – No. 15 in the 4x400m relay; No. 17 in the 400m
Brandon Woodard – No. 15 in the 4x400m relay
Korbin Smith – No. 15 in the 4x400m relay
Elon Simms – No. 15 in the 4x400m relay; No. 23 in the 400m hurdles
Adam Green – No. 21 in the steeplechase
Marcus Brooks – No. 27 in the 4x400m relay
Matt DeChant – No. 29 in the shot put
Tyler Branch – No. 32 in the shot put
Stephen Robinson – No. 38 in the 4x400m relay
Cory Leslie – No. 44 in the steeplechase
Heath Nickles – No. 47 in the decathlon
Max Mays – No. 48 in the hammer throw

World’s Best
Buckeyes Jared Hall, Cory Leslie, Daniel White and Jeff See posted what at the time was a 2010 world-best performance in the 4x800m relay April 23 at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.

Also a school record, Ohio State’s time of 7:17.68 was only three seconds off of the Drake Stadium record. Big Ten rival Minnesota finished second in 7:18.18 as the Buckeyes sprinted past a deep and talented field of 15.

“This is obviously a tremendous accomplishment for our middle distance guys,” head coach Robert Gary said after the race. “It’s even more exciting considering three of our guys are preparing for races tomorrow. Jeff (See) being a senior led the way for us, but all three of our runners ran great to help our position. Jared Hall really helped us out with a 1:48 spilt, a personal best.”

The University of Virginia 4x800m relay team would top the Buckeyes’ effort with a winning time of 7:15.38 in the “Championship of America” at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia April 24.

Gee Casts Vote for Jesse Owens
Gordon Gee, President of The Ohio State University, cast his vote for Jesse Owens at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus March 20. Owens is one of 10 candidates for a monument placement representing Ohio at Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.

Owens, one of the great athletes of the 20th century, rose to international prominence as a student-athlete at Ohio State in the early 30s, recording world indoor records in both the 60-meter dash and 60-yard dash.

The defining moment of Owens’ career came in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi-controlled Berlin, Germany. Owens shattered Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan superiority by winning gold medals in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, broad jump and as a member of the United States 4×100-meter relay team.

In 1950, the Associated Press named Owens its Track Athlete of the First Half-Century. In 1955, the State Department named him America’s “Ambassador of Sports.” Owens toured the world, meeting with government and sports officials and promoting the virtues of amateur sports programs. In 1976, President Gerald Ford presented Owens with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the United States Medal of Freedom.

Gee cast his ballot on the opening day for the Historical Society’s “Legacy for Ohio” campaign. The public vote runs until June 12 and will play a large part in determining Ohio’s Legacy statue. Visit www.OhioHistory.org for voting information and site locations.

Join the Olympian Club!
A new fund-raising initiative created by head coach Robert Gary, the Ohio State ‘Olympian Club’ hopes to generate financial support for track and field/cross country projects that are beyond the budget but extremely valuable in enhancing the experiences of the program’s student-athletes.

Besides supporting the members of the 2010 Buckeye track and field/cross country teams both on and off the track, donations will afford the Buckeyes the opportunity to continue to operate in a first-class manner, while setting a new standard for Division I programs.

For information visit the men’s track and field home page at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.          

Head Coach Robert Gary
Robert Gary is in his fourth season as the head men’s track and field coach and his 13th coaching the cross country team at Ohio State.

Gary ended a decorated running career in 2005. In 2004, he became the fifth former Buckeye to gain a bid to two separate U.S. Olympic teams and continued running by making the finals for the 11th-straight year at the 2005 USA Nationals.

A 1996 participant at the Atlanta Games, Gary placed second in the men’s steeplechase at the Olympic Trials with a career-best 8:19.46. Eight years later, his third-place finish at the trials gained an automatic bid on the U.S. team headed to Athens, Greece for the 2004 Olympic Games.

Gary also earned honors as a cross country athlete, winning the 2004 Track and Field News Cross Country Runner of the Year. He qualified for the U.S. team for the second-straight season in both the four-kilometer and 12-kilometer events and finished as the top American at the 2004 World Championships in the 4k. Gary’s 2004 qualification to the world championships in two events marked the first time a U.S. runner made both teams in consecutive years and moved his tally to 11 national cross country teams qualified for.

In 2003, Gary qualified for his sixth United States world cross country team by winning the 2003 U.S. 4-kilometer Cross Country Championship in Houston, Texas. That same year, he claimed a third-place standing in the steeplechase at the USATF championships in June with a time of 8:24.82. Gary ended the year by representing the U.S. at the 2003 Outdoor World Championship en route to earning a No. 3 ranking by Track and Field News. During the 2002 outdoor campaign, Gary ran the fourth-fastest time by an American in the 3000-meter steeplechase. As a result of his performance, Gary was ranked among the Top 10 in the U.S. for the seventh-straight year.

As a student-athlete at Ohio State from 1992-1995, Gary was a six-event All-American, winning the Big Ten 3000m steeplechase outdoor title in 1994, where he set the Ohio State and Big Ten record in the event. He was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and member of three Big Ten champion teams (1992 outdoor, and 1993 indoor and outdoor).

Along with his numerous accolades in cross country and track, Gary has established himself as one of the nation’s elite coaches. Former Buckeye greats Rob Myers (1500m), Dan Huling (steeplechase) and Brian Olinger (steeplechase) along with current Buckeye Jeff See (1500m) trained under Gary while preparing for the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. Myers, Huling and Olinger advanced to the finals of their events before coming up short while See – just a sophomore at the time – missed the finals by one spot. Gary was selected to be an assistant coach for Team USA’s U23 team in July 2008 at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) meet in Toluca, Mexico. Joining him was See, who competed in the 1500m run. Myers and Huling finished the year having run the second-fastest times by an American in their respective events. At the 2009 USATF Championships, two former (Olinger and Huling) and one current Buckeye (See) qualified for final day competition, with Huling making the USA track and field team after a second-place finish in 8:32.86. In Sept. 2009, Huling ran the sixth-best steeplechase in U.S. history, finishing fourth at the Brussels Golden League in 8:14.69 while shattering the previous American-best time in 2009 by more than seven seconds.  

Coach Gary’s student-athletes are known nationally for their work in the classroom – 18 members of the 2009 track and field team were named Academic All-Big Ten, while five members of the cross country team claimed the honor. The cross country team was named 2009 Division I All-Academic for the eighth straight season.

A recent inductee into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame, Gary received a degree in English education from Ohio State in the fall of 1996.

Last Time Out
The Ohio State men’s track team – fueled by conference titles by Korbin Smith, Stephen Robinson and the 4x400m relay team – finished in third-place May 16 at the 2010 Big Ten Championships in Bloomington, Ind.

Ohio State closed the 2010 championships with a total of 115 points. Minnesota won its fourth-straight Big Ten title with a team score of 145, while Wisconsin was the runner-up (124 pts.). A look at the meet highlights for the Buckeyes:

  • Smith won the first Big Ten title of his career with a jump of 7.49m (24-7). Robinson, a senior, captured his second 200m dash conference title, crossing the finish line in 21.18.
  • The Buckeye 4x400m relay team of Smith, Brandon Woodard, Elon Simms and Thomas Murdaugh won its fourth-consecutive conference crown in a season-best time of 3:05.96, a Top 15 Division I performance.
  • Simms wrapped up his career at the Big Ten championships with a runner-up time of 50.87 in the 400m hurdles, a season-best and Top 25 Division I performance.
  • Defending Big Ten champion Murdaugh was upset by Iowa’s Steven Willey in the 400m dash finals. Murdaugh finished second in a time of 46.53 as Willey coasted to the win in 46.12.
  • Max Mays and Thomas Davis took the hammer throw field by storm with a pair of personal records. Mays led the way with a second-place toss of 61.13m (200-07), the sixth-best mark in Ohio State history, while Davis finished fourth at 59.74m (196 ft.).
  • Matt DeChant and Tyler Branch turned in outstanding performances in the finals of the shot put, finishing third (18.06m/59-3) and fourth (18.02m/59-1.50), respectively with a pair of season-best throws.
  • A season-best mark of 63.02m (206-09) helped junior Bryan Bunnell to a third-place finish in the javelin.
  • All-American Jeff See finished fourth in the tightly-contested 1500m finals. See’s time of 3:44.69 was less than a minute behind the winning time set by Wisconsin All-American Jack Bolas (3:43.79). See closed his career at the Big Ten championships with a fourth-place effort of 13.58.22 in the 5000m run, fifth-best in OSU outdoor history.
  • The Buckeye 4x100m relay team of Jonathan Francois, Terrell, Robinson and Leuenberger finished fourth with a time of 40.70.

Up Next
Qualifying athletes will compete at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 9-12.