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COLUMBUS, Ohio – It’s the last chance to qualify for the national championship for several members of the Ohio State track and field team, as the Buckeyes travel to South Bend, Ind., for the Alex Wilson Invitational March 6.

With the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships just over a week away, this weekend’s “Last Chance” invitationals provide a final opportunity for student-athletes across the country to post qualifying marks for the NCAA championships  –  six Buckeyes will be among those athletes looking to post season-best times/marks in order to improve their NCAA at-large chances.

Saturday also marks the second trip to Notre Dame this season for Ohio State. The Scarlet and Gray put together one of its best all-around performances of the year at the Meyo Invitational in early February, highlighted by Jeff See’s sub-four minute mile and Thomas Murdaugh’s then season-best 400m dash time of 46.43.

Action from South Bend begins at approximately 11:00 a.m. ET Saturday with Matt DeChant competing in the shot put. Results will also be posted after the meet at www.und.com, with a complete recap available after the meet at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.

Competing Buckeyes
Patrick Sovacool – 5000m
Matt DeChant – Shot Put
Elon Simms, Stephen Robinson, Brandon Woodard, Thomas Murdaugh – 4x400m relay

Murdaugh Sweeps Top Big Ten Awards
Sophomore All-American Thomas Murdaugh was named the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Championships March 3 by the conference office following an outstanding 2010 indoor campaign and Big Ten championship performance.

The first Buckeye to capture the AOY award since NCAA champion Dan Taylor in 2003, Murdaugh has been the dominant 400m runner in the Midwest throughout the indoor season and is a top candidate for the title of Great Lakes Athlete of the Year. His two-day domination of the Big Ten’s best at the conference finals earned him AOC honors, the first for a Buckeye since Andrew Pierce in 2001.

A look at some of the sophomore’s accomplishments:

  • First-team All-Big Ten selection
  • Big Ten 400m dash champion (46.07, a record time at Minnesota’s University Fieldhouse)
  • Seventh-fastest time in the nation in the 400m dash (46.07)
  • Third-best 400m time in Ohio State indoor history (46.07)
  • Anchor of Big Ten champion 4x400m relay team (3:11.18, a University Fieldhouse record)
  • Top 15 time nationally in the mile relay (3:08.22)
  • Big Ten 200m dash runner-up (21.70)
  • Two-time Big Ten Athlete of the Week

Ohio State Well Represented on Big Ten Awards List
Four other Buckeyes joined Murdaugh on the All-Big Ten first team:

  • Jeff See (3000m champion)
  • Stephen Robinson (200m dash champ, 4x400m relay)
  • Brandon Woodard (4x400m)
  • Elon Simms (4x400m)

In addition, sophomore Adam Green took second-team All-Big Ten after his runner-up finish in the 3000m, while senior Ryan Blake was the winner of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior.

Buckeyes Drop in National and Regional Rankings
Despite a stellar performance at the Big Ten championships, the Buckeyes fell seven spots to No. 27 in the March 2 edition of the NCAA Division I National Team Rankings by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

With a total of 40.80 points, Ohio State is one of four Big Ten teams featured in the national Top 40. Indiana remains the top-ranked team in the Big Ten at No. 10, followed by Big Ten champion and 12th-ranked Minnesota, No. 13 Penn State, the Buckeyes and No. 32 Wisconsin. Indiana and Penn State remained in the Top 15 after tying for sixth at the Big Ten championships last weekend.

Ohio State also fell in Great Lakes Regional Rankings, dropping out of the top spot for the first time this season. With a total of 387.68 points, Wisconsin is now the top ranked team in the Great Lakes, followed by the Buckeyes (385.99), Indiana, Purdue and Michigan. 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.

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.  

Last Time Out
The 20th-ranked Ohio State men’s track and field team finished in second-place at the 2010 Big Ten Championships Feb. 28, the team’s highest indoor finish since the 1996 season.

Head coach Robert Gary and the Buckeyes put together an outstanding two day performance at University Fieldhouse, capturing four individual Big Ten titles on their way to a total team score of 112.50. However, it was not enough to overcome home-standing and 17th-ranked Minnesota, as the Golden Gophers’ 160.50 points helped them pull away from the rest of the league.

Ohio State defended its 2009 indoor and outdoor titles in the 4x400m – Thomas Murdaugh, Elon Simms, Brandon Woodard and Stephen Robinson brought the win home to Columbus with an NCAA provisional run of 3:11.18, a University Fieldhouse record.

The Buckeyes swept the Top 3 spots in the 200m dash, led by senior Robinson, who won his first Big Ten title with an NCAA provisional time of 21.57. Murdaugh finished in second-place in 21.70 and Curtis Leuenberger was third in 21.76.

All-American Murdaugh won his first Big Ten individual title in the 400m dash, cruising to a first-place and NCAA provisional time of 46.67, a run that bested his own University Fieldhouse record. Freshman Korbin Smith was third in a personal record time of 48.49 and Rob Baisden sixth in 48.91.

Senior All-American Jeff See won his third individual Big Ten title with a first-place finish in the 3000m championships in an NCAA provisional time of 8:06.46. Teammate Adam Green finished second in a personal record time of 8:09.07, while Patrick Sovacool was eighth in 8:13.83. See also finished third in the mile with a time of 4:06.39.

Matt DeChant was the runner-up in the weight throw with an NCAA provisional toss of 19.64m (64-5.25). He would finish sixth in the shot put (17.39m/57-0.75), just behind Tyler Branch, who was fifth at 17.41m (57-1.50).

Freshman Smith claimed third-place and six points in the long jump with a leap of 7.21m (23-8), his second-best mark this season. Steve MacDonald earned two points and a seventh-place finish at 7.01m (23 ft.).

Up Next
Select Buckeyes will travel to Fayetteville, Ark. for the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships, March 12 and 13.