COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s track and field team heads to West Lafayette, Ind., this weekend for the 2011 Big Ten Indoor Championships after taking a week off to rest up and make a run at a conference title. Last year the Buckeyes came out of nowhere to finish second and have even bigger expectations this time around in 2011.
Days: Saturday, Feb. 26 (9 a.m. – 5:20 p.m.) and Sunday, Feb. 27 (12:30 p.m – 3:50 p.m.)
Venue: Lambert Fieldhouse – West Lafayette, Ind.
Television: The Big Ten Network will televise the meet on tape delay at 4 p.m. ET on Mar. 12.
Live Stats: www.purduesports.com or www.bigten.org
Christina Manning – Manning is looking for a repeat performance from her stellar outing at the 2010 championships. The junior is last season’s Big Ten 60m hurdles champion, an Indoor All-American and one of the nation’s top hurdlers and sprinters. At the Michigan Dual, Manning took first in 8.13 — the third-best time in Ohio State history, a personal record, an NCAA automatic qualifier and the third-best time in Division I this season. The Waldorf, Md., native also holds the team’s fastest time and the conference’s second fastest time in the 60m dash this season with her personal record of 7.40. She is second on the team with a 24.16 in the 200m dash this season.
Letecia Wright – The other half of Ohio State’s hurdling duo, Wright ran a 8.19 this season in the 60m hurdles for a personal record, the fifth-fastest time in Ohio State history and the 12th-fastest time in Division I. The senior from Baltimore, Md., also has the fastest time on the team this season in the 200m dash in 24.03. That time is the fifth-fastest time in history from a Buckeye. Last season Wright finished second behind Manning in the 60m hurdles at the Big Ten championships.
Ashley Galbraith – The Struthers, Ohio, native cleared the bar at 1.79m this season in the high jump to set a new personal record and notch the 19th best mark in Division I this season. Last season the junior competed in the pentathlon for the Scarlet and Gray at the Big Ten championships where she placed sixth overall and second in the high jump. Galbraith is tied with Purdue’s Emily Breslin for the top mark in the Big Ten this season.
Maggie Mullen – Leading the team in both the shot put and the weight throw, Mullen is expected to make a large contribution for the Buckeyes at the Big Ten championships this season. The junior has set new personal records in both events this season and has the best marks on the team. Mullen’s mark of 19.13m in the weight throw sits as the 34th best throw in Division I this season and the fifth-best in the conference this season. The Ontario, Canada, native best mark in the shot put this season is 14.65m.
Scouting the Big Ten
A competitive Big Ten field awaits the Buckeyes this weekend with all ten competing schools ranked within the top eight in their respective regions. As of Feb. 21, Michigan is the lone Big Ten school in the top 25 rankings by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The Wolverines are ranked 13th. Ohio State is ranked first in the Great Lakes region, however. Other regionally ranked Big Ten teams in the Great Lakes region include No. 2 Indiana, Michigan (ranked No. 3 in the region), No. 5 Michigan State, No. 6 Purdue and No. 7 Wisconsin. Penn State is ranked first in the Mid-Atlantic region. Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa are ranked third, fourth and eighth in the Midwest region, respectively.
Six Buckeyes in Individual Top 40 Nationals Rankings
60m Hurdles – Manning and Wright will be looking to pull off a one-two sweep in the event just as they did at the 2010 meet. Illinois senior Tamika Robinson is the top challenger to the Maryland duo, currently holding the second-best time in the conference (8.17) behind Manning (8.19). Christienne Linton also has the potential to score points for the Buckeyes – the sophomore sits in eighth-place in the Big Ten to this point in the season.
200m Dash – The Ohio State trio of Manning, Wright and Madison McNary own three of the Top 5 times in the conference, but all three will be chasing Penn State All-American Shavon Greaves, the defending conference champion in the event. If the Buckeyes maintain their times, big points could follow.
High Jump – Ashley Galbraith and Emily Breslin are tied at the top of the Big Ten standings heading into the weekend and are the favorites in a competitive field. Other top challenges include Monika Jakutyte of Wisconsin and Illinois junior Kendall McCaugherty.
Triple Jump – Kelcey McKinney is No. 1 in the Big Ten so far this season and is joined in the Big Ten Top 10 by Rachael Mack. Michigan’s Ada Unachukwu and Jordan Helgren of Wisconsin are the top contenders along with McKinney to capture the conference crown.
Weight Throw – The field is much improved in this event, but the runaway favorite remains Beth Rohl of Michigan State. Buckeyes Maggie Mullen and Alexis Thomas, both ranked in the conference Top 10, will be looking to pick up valuable points for their team.
Last Season’s Big Ten Championship
The Buckeyes had a stellar showing at the 2010 Big Ten Indoor Championships with a runner-up finish, the team’s highest in nine years. Penn State won the championship with 111 points and the Buckeyes followed with 88 points.
While the Buckeyes witnessed outstanding performances across the board, Christina Manning was the star of the championships for OSU, posting two runner-up finishes and an individual title in the 60m hurdles.
Manning and Letecia Wright went one-two in the 60m hurdle finals, with the Waldorf, Md., product getting the better of her Baltimore counterpart – both set NCAA provisional times, with Manning crossing the finish line in 8.25 and Wright following in 8.32. Freshman Christienne Linton finished in seventh-place with a time of 8.73 as the Buckeyes amassed 20 team points in the event.
Manning followed up her title in the hurdles with runner-up finishes in both the 200m and 60m dash. The sophomore used a time of 23.56 in the 200m – the second-best in school indoor history and a Top 15 time nationally – to finish behind Penn State All-American Shavon Greaves.
The upset of the championship came in the 400m dash, where Buckeye sophomore Shaniqua McGinnis captured her first individual Big Ten title by defeating Penn State All-American Fawn Dorr. McGinnis broke the OSU indoor record with her winning time of 52.65, an NCAA provisional qualifier. Dorr finished just behind McGinnis with a PR of 52.68.
McGinnis and Manning, along with seniors Latoya Sanderson and Ashley Caldwell posted the second-best school indoor time in the 4x400m relay, finishing third with an NCAA provisional time of 3:38.88. Penn State took home the mile relay title with a Big Ten championship record time of 3:35.38.
Buckeye History at the Big Ten Championships
The Ohio State women have never taken home an indoor title in the 32 seasons the Big Ten has held a women’s indoor championship. However, the Buckeyes have placed in the Top 5 19 times and have more than 50 individual titles.
Three Buckeye women have taken home the Athlete of the Championship award. Donica Merriman – one of only two OSU athletes to claim national titles – grabbed the honor in both 2000 and 2001 after winning the 60m hurdles and 200m dash each season. Her blazing time of 7.98 in the 60m hurdles in 2001 is still a championship record. Bridgette Tate received the honor in 1988 after her first-place finishes in the 55m dash, 55m hurdles and 300 yard run.
Two Ohio State indoor records have been retired, Diane Dixon’s 300-yard run in 1983 and Tate’s 60-yard sprint in 1987.
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Last Time Out
Ohio State competed in both the Crusader Invite and the Akron Invitational two weeks ago. The team finished first in the Crusader Invite with 232 points and collected five first-place finishes at the Akron Invitational.
At Capital, the Buckeyes had Top 5 sweeps in both the 60m dash and the 60m hurdles. Junior Madison McNary led the sweep in the 60m dash in 7.47. Wright led Ohio State in the 60m hurdles in 8.31. Nyjah Cousar (26.17) won the 200m dash and Jackie Dim led a Top 4 sweep in the 400m dash with her time of 58.01. In the 800m Shaniqua McGinnis took first with 2:21.77. Rachael Mack, Dim, Adenike Pedro and Galbraith claimed the top spot in the 4x200m relay in 1:44.56.
In the field events Kelcey McKinney won the long jump with a leap of 5.83m while teammate Ashley Woodruff took first in the triple jump with a mark of 10.48m. With a personal record toss of 17.57m, Stephanie Enarusai captured the top spot in the weight throw. Norianna Brown (13.75m) won the shot put for Scarlet and Gray.
In Akron, Sarah Lowe outran the pack to capture first in the 5000m with a new personal record time of 17:10.41. The 4x400m relay team consisting of Latoya Sanderson, Dim, Cousar and Manning placed first with a time of 3:42.69.
Galbraith bested the competition in the high jump clearing the bar at 1.77m. Fellow jumper McKinney took first in the triple jump with a leap of 11.95m.
The final indoor meet of the season is the NCAA indoor championships in College Station, Texas March 11-12.