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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Five members of the Ohio State men’s track and field team will vie for national titles this weekend at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas.

Junior All-American Thomas Murdaugh will be making his fifth appearance at an NCAA championship as he challenges the field in the 400m. Juniors Matt DeChant and Cory Leslie also bring NCAA experience to the table – DeChant is a two-time All-American in the shot put, while Leslie competed in the steeplechase at the 2010 outdoor championships. Making their first trip to an NCAA final are juniors Max Mays and Michael Hartfield. Mays is set to compete in the weight throw, while Hartfield will battle for a championship in the long jump.

“I am very excited for the program this weekend,” head coach Robert Gary said. “We were disappointed with Big Tens as a team, but these young men all enter NCAA’s with the opportunity to earn All-American status and they’re all back again next year. I am also happy that just like last Spring, we have representation in all the different event areas.”

Championship Basics
Days: Friday March 11 (11 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET) and Saturday March 12 (1-8 p.m. ET)
Venue: Texas A&M University’s Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium – College Station, Texas
Television: ESPN2 will show a tape delay of the event on March 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET. ESPN3 will web stream the event on Friday, March 11 from 4-8:40 p.m. and Saturday, March 12 from 4-7:50 p.m. The remainder of the event will be streamed live on NCAA.com.
Live Stats: http://www.flashresults.com/2011_Meets/indoor/03-11-NCAADiv1/  

Scouting the Field
400m – Murdaugh enters as the No. 9 seed. Alabama sophomore Kirani James is the clear favorite heading into the competition having posted a time of 44.80 at the SEC indoor championships last month. James is joined in the Top 3 by Florida’s Tony McQuay and Georgia’s Torrin Lawrence.

Mile – The No. 7 seed entering the meet, Leslie will compete in one of the most balanced fields in recent memory. Montana State’s Patrick Casey is the No. 1 seed after posting a time of 3:54.59 in early February.

Long jump – Hartfield, a former junior college national champion in the event, is 10th leading up to the finals. The Top 9 qualifiers hold NCAA automatic marks of 7.90m or higher, led by Florida State’s Ngonidzashe Makusha (8.15m) and Marquis Goodwin of Texas (8.14m).

Shot Put – DeChant is the highest Buckeye seed heading into the national championships, currently holding the fourth-best distance in the country (19.82m). Mason Finley of Kansas is favorite (20.71m), with Texas A&M’s Luke Pinkleman, Joe Kovacs of Penn State, and DeChant serving as his top challengers to the title.

Weight Throw – Mays earned an at-large bid as the No. 12 seed. LSU’s Walter Henning is the top seed (23. 32m), followed by Adonson Shallow of Southeastern Louisiana and Micah Hegerle of Minnesota.

Buckeye History at the National Championships
The Buckeyes have never won a team indoor championship, but have produced 12 individual titles, the most recent coming in 2004 when Dan Taylor claimed national titles in both the shot put and weight throw. Taylor is one of two Buckeyes to earn multiple indoor championships, the other being Chris Nelloms, who won back-to-back 200m titles in 1993 and 1994.

Ohio State athletes have posted over 75 All-American performances at the indoor championships. Murdaugh (400m, 2010) and OSU head coach Robert Gary (3000m, 1994 and 1995) are just a few of the former Buckeyes that have earned the title of All-American.

As a team, the Buckeyes have put together seven Top 20 finishes, the last coming in 2004 when OSU took ninth overall. Ohio State’s best finish all-time took place in 1993, when the team finished fifth under long-time head coach Russ Rogers.

Scarlet and Gray Check-in at No. 20 in USTFCCCA Top 25, Third in Regional Poll
Ohio State climbed two spots to No. 20 in the March 7 edition of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Top 25 poll.

Six Big Ten teams are featured in the Top 25, with No. 6 Indiana leading the way, followed by No. 16 Penn State, No. 17 Wisconsin, No. 18 Minnesota, the Buckeyes and 22nd-ranked Iowa. Florida is the top-ranked team in the nation, followed by No. 2 LSU, while future Big Ten member Nebraska checks-in at No. 10 in the poll.

Regionally, the Buckeyes find themselves third in the Great Lakes behind Indiana and Wisconsin. Akron checks in at No. 4, with Michigan State at No. 5.

OSU Well Represented in Individual Top 35 Rankings
Seven members of the men’s track and field team find themselves ranked within the Top 35 in several event areas nationally. A look at where the Buckeyes sit:

Matt DeChant – No. 4 in the shot put and No. 18 in the weight throw
Cory Leslie – No. 7 in the mile
Thomas Murdaugh – No. 9 in the 400m and No. 26 in the 200m
Michael Hartfield – No. 10 in the long jump and No. 18 in the triple jump
Max Mays – No. 12 in the weight throw
Demoye Bogle – No. 33 in the 60m hurdles
Tyler Branch – No. 34 in the shot put

Former Buckeye Jeff See Wins USA Indoor Mile Title
Former Ohio State track and field and cross country standout Jeff See won the men’s mile title Feb. 27 at the 2011 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque N.M.

See, a six-time All-American at OSU from 2005-2010, came from behind to win the championship in a time of 4:04.63. Running in third-place heading around the final turn, the Middletown, Ohio, native took advantage of an opening on the rail and used his famous final kick to pass Aaron Braun and Garrett Heath for the first USA indoor title of his career. See was joined in the Top 4 by fellow Ohio State alumnus, Rob Myers. The winner of three previous U.S. Indoor 1500m/mile titles, Myers finished fourth in 4:07.18.

Gary Named Assistant for Team USA at IAFF World Championships
Ohio State track and field and cross country head coach Robert Gary will represent the Buckeyes as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2011 IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships, August 27 to September 4, in Daegu, South Korea, USA Track and Field announced last month.

Gary, in his fifth season as the track and field head coach and 14th leading the cross country team at Ohio State, will mentor the American distance runners under the direction of USA head coach Vin Lananna, Director of Track and Field at the University of Oregon.

In addition to his duties with Team USA at the track and field championships, Gary will also direct the American junior squad at the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships March 20 in Punta Umbria, Spain. Gary has previous experience as an assistant at the junior level, having served on the U.S. staff at the 2010 World Junior Track and Field Championships in Mochton, Canada — that experience will serve him well, as he looks to improve an American squad that finished in eighth-place as a team at the 2010 championships.

Former Buckeye Brian Olinger Qualifies for U.S. National Team
Former Ohio State track and field and cross country standout Brian Olinger finished sixth at the 2011 USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego Feb. 5, earning the former All-American his first appearance with the U.S. national team.

Olinger, a five-time All-American and Big Ten champion as a member of the track and field and cross country programs from 2002-2006, ran a 12k time of 36:05 to secure his spot on the Team USA roster for this March’s IAAF world championships in Punta Umbria, Spain. 

“Our program is very proud that Brian has stuck with the support [at Ohio State] and achieved this level of excellence,” Ohio State head coach Robert Gary said of the former Buckeye All-America’s accomplishment. “He is a model for our team and a great representative of Buckeye Nation. We know that he will represent us well.”

Buckeyes Rack Up 565 Hours of Community Service for Fall Quarter
The Ohio State men’s track and team was hard at work off the track in the Greater Columbus area this past fall, contributing 536 total hours of community service to local organizations and charities.

All 56 team members completed at least 8 hours of volunteer work during fall quarter, with 18 student-athletes contributing 12 or more hours to local communities. Of special mention is the work done by junior Taylor Williams, who completed over 20 hours as a volunteer tutor.

Participating organizations included:

  • Second and Seven
  • Operation Buckeye
  • Life Care Alliance
  • Mid-Ohio Food Bank
  • Lima Food Bank
  • City Life Center
  • Various mentoring programs

In addition, the team continued its volunteer efforts for the third-consecutive year with Fifth Avenue Elementary, where Buckeye student-athletes serve as mentors.

Join the Olympian Club!
A 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 Ohio State 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 more information, visit the men’s track and field home page at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.  

Follow the Buckeyes on Facebook!
The Ohio State men’s track and field team is now on Facebook. Visit www.facebook.com/OSUtrackXC to catch up on the latest Buckeye news and notes.
     
Head coach Robert Gary
Robert Gary, now in his fifth season as the head men’s track and field coach and 15th coaching the cross country team, has elevated both programs to new heights and has established himself as one of the nation’s elite coaches.

Gary’s teams constantly strive for Top 3 finishes at the Big Ten championships in cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. And for the second time in three years, the Buckeyes did just that during the 2009-10 campaign. Gary led the cross country team to a second-place finish at the Big Ten championships as Jeff See took third overall among individuals. The Buckeyes went onto place third at the NCAA regionals before taking 21st at the NCAA championships behind See’s All-America finish. On the track, Gary led the Buckeyes to a second-place finish at the Big Ten indoor championships and a third-place showing during the outdoor season. See (mile/1500m) and Matt DeChant (shot put) earned All-America honors during the indoor and outdoor seasons while Thomas Murdaugh earned All-America honors in the 400m during the indoor. In addition, the Buckeyes swept their rival Michigan in “The Dual” by winning both indoor and outdoor meets.

Coach Gary continues to train the best each year for the USA Track and Field championships and Olympic trials. In June 2010, he helped train Dan Huling, who took first place in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2010 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In addition, Huling, along with former Buckeye greats Rob Myers (1500m), Brian Olinger (steeplechase) and See (1500m) trained under Gary while preparing for the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.

Gary ended a decorated running career in 2005. A two time member of Team USA at the 1996 and 2004 Olympics, Gary placed second in the men’s steeplechase at the 1996 Olympic Trials with a career-best time of 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 Games.  Gary also earned honors as a cross country athlete, competing on a total of 11 U.S. national teams.

As a student-athlete at Ohio State from 1992-1995, Gary was a six-event All-American, winning the Big Ten outdoor 3000m steeplechase 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 championship teams (1992 outdoor, 1993 indoor and outdoor).

A 2009 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
Ohio State finished in fifth-place at 2011 Big Ten Indoor Championships in Champaign, Ill.

Two Buckeyes – Thomas Murdaugh and Michael Hartfield – claimed conference titles over the weekend. Murdaugh won the second 400m crown of his collegiate career, crossing the finish line in a season-best time of 46.81. The Dublin, Ohio, native also anchored Ohio State’s 4x400m relay team to a second-place finish behind Iowa in 3:12.53, while taking third in the 200m (21.47). Hartfield was impressive in his Big Ten championship debut, winning the conference title in the long jump (7.85m) and finishing second in the triple jump (15.70m).

Other highlights:

  • The distance medley team of Chris Fallon, Aaron Roberts, Jared Hall and Cory Leslie finished in second-place with a time of 9:54.20.
  • Freshman Demoye Bogle posted a PR of 7.88 in the 60m hurdles, finishing in third-place.
  • Leslie finished fourth in the mile in 4:03.59.
  • Matt DeChant earned a place on the shot put podium, taking third with an 18.35m toss.
  • Fourth-place in the weight throw went to Max Mays at 20.51m.

Up Next
The Buckeyes will kick off the outdoor season March 25-26 at both the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., and the Big Ten/SEC Challenge in Starkville, Miss.