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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Four members of the Ohio State men’s track and field team will vie for national titles this weekend at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

Veteran All-American Jeff See will be making his fifth appearance at an NCAA championship as he challenges for titles in both the mile and 3000m. Daniel White and Thomas Murdaugh are appearing in their first indoor championships – second overall – and Matt DeChant will be experiencing the environment at the NCAA finals for the first time.

Championship Basics
Days: Friday, March 12 (11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. ET) and Saturday, March 13 (11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.)
Venue: Randal Tyson Track Center – University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, Ark.
Live Streaming and Stats: www.NCAA.com

Scouting the Field
400m dash – Georgia sophomore Torrin Lawrence is the top-seed headed into Friday’s preliminary round (45.03), with Alabama’s Kirani James second (45.24). James is the only athlete to defeat Murdaugh, the seventh-seed (46.07), in the 400m during the indoor season – he posted the then top time in the nation when he defeated the Dublin native at the Meyo Invitational in February.

800m run – Oregon All-American Andrew Wheating, the 2009 NCAA indoor runner-up in the 800, holds the top time in the field at 1:46.36, followed by All-American and Big Ten champion Ryan Foster of Penn State (1:47.32). White comes in at No. 13 (1:48.26).

Mile – See, a 2008 All-American in the mile, is seeded seventh thanks to his sub-four minute mile at the Meyo Invitational in February. Despite not being one of the top seeds, See’s experience at the national level makes him one of the favorites headed into the championship run. Lee Emmanuel, the defending NCAA indoor champion, once again heads the pack (3:57.62), with Oregon freshman Mac Fleet second at 3:57.70.

3000m – Northern Arizona’s David McNeill, a six-time All-American, posted the top qualifying time during the regular season (7:47.52), more than two seconds ahead of Wisconsin All-American Craig Miller (7:49.94). New Mexico’s Emmanuel will also contend in the 3000 as the No. 3 seed, with See 12th headed into the finals (7:57.14).

Shot Put – Defending champion Ryan Whiting of Arizona State is the top-seed once again (21.52m), followed by Northeastern’s Nate Hunter (19.49m). Big Ten champion Aaron Studt of Minnesota, the 2009 runner-up, is the three-seed (19.37m), with fellow Midwesterner DeChant 13th (18.56m)

OSU 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 the championship in both the shot put and weight throw. Taylor is one of two Buckeyes to earn multiple indoor titles, the other being Chris Nelloms, who won back-to-back 200m dash titles in 1993 and 1994.

Ohio State athletes have posted over 75 All-American performances at the indoor championships. See (mile, 2008), head coach Robert Gary (3000m, 1994 and 1995) and volunteer assistant Brian Olinger (5000m run, 2005 and 2006) are just a few of the former Buckeyes that can be called an 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.

Murdaugh, Gary, Beathea Honored by USTFCCCA
Sophomore All-American Thomas Murdaugh, head coach Robert Gary and associate head coach Ed Beathea were honored by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) March 9 for their outstanding accomplishments during the 2010 indoor track and field season.

Murdaugh, the Buckeyes’ 400m star, was named Great Lakes Track Athlete of the Year, the first member of the men’s track team to earn an AOY award since Dan Taylor in 2004. The Dublin, Ohio native continued his dominance of the track and field award season by collecting his third major award in the span of a week – he was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Championships last Tuesday after helping the Buckeyes to a second-place finish at the indoor championships.

A look at some of the sophomore’s accomplishments so far this season:

•    First-team All-Big Ten selection
•    Big Ten champion, 400m dash (46.07, third-best time in OSU indoor history)
•    Anchor of Ohio State’s Big Ten champion 4x400m relay team
•    NCAA championships qualifier (400m)
•    Big Ten runner-up, 200m dash (21.70)
•    Two-time Big Ten Athlete of the Week

Head coach Robert Gary was honored as the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Coach of the Year, the first COY award of his career. In his fourth year as head coach of the Buckeyes, Gary continues to lead the men’s track and field program to unprecedented heights. A year after guiding Ohio State to a runner-up finish on its home track at the 2009 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, Gary engineered a second-place finish at the conference indoor championships Feb 28, the highest finish for the program since 1996.
 
Associate head coach Ed Beathea was named the Great Lakes Assistant Coach of the Year based largely on his work with Murdaugh and the Buckeyes’ 4x400m relay team. Possessing an uncanny eye for talent, Beathea, a noted sprint/hurdles coach, has mentored Murdaugh to All-American status and created a juggernaut in the three-time defending Big Ten champion 4x400m team. Prior to his arrival in Columbus, Beathea spent a decade with the Indiana track and field program, where he coached 32 Big Ten champions, 28 All-Americans and two NCAA runners-up.

Buckeyes Fall Out of National Top 30, Remain Second in Great Lakes
Ohio State comes in at No. 31 in the March 9 edition of the NCAA Division I National Rankings by the USTFCCCA.

The Buckeyes fell four spots from last week when they sat at No. 27. OSU dropped four spots in the March 1 poll despite a second-place finish at the Big Ten championships the weekend prior. No. 7 Minnesota remains the top-ranked Big Ten squad, followed by No. 12 Indiana, No. 14 Penn State, No. 27 Wisconsin and Ohio State.

For the second-consecutive week, the Buckeyes (371.82 points) find themselves ranked second in the Great Lakes behind Wisconsin (387.32). 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. Indiana, Purdue and Akron round out the Great Lakes Top 5.

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
Ohio State’s Big Ten champion 4x400m relay team posted a season-best time of 3:08.20 March 6 at the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind., leading the Buckeye effort at the annual “Last Chance” meet.

Brandon Woodard, Elon Simms, Stephen Robinson and anchor Thomas Murdaugh finished in second-place with a Big Ten-best and NCAA provisional qualifying time.

Sophomore Matt DeChant finished fifth in the shot put with a toss of 17.27m (56-8), falling short of an NCAA provisional qualifying mark. Indiana State’s Brandon Pounds finished first at 17.70m (58-1).

Senior Patrick Sovacool finished 21st in the 5000m with a time of 14:36.25. Chris Barnacle of New Mexico was first with an NCAA provisional time of 13:47.16.

Up Next
Ohio State will take a week off before traveling to Raleigh, N.C., for the Raleigh Relays March 24-27, the first outdoor meet of the year.