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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 2009 Big Ten runner-up Ohio State men’s track and field team opens its 2010 campaign Jan. 7 inside French Field House as host of the Buckeye Classic.

In-state opponents Findlay and Ashland will send several athletes to challenge the Buckeyes at the first meet in the newly-renovated Field House in more than three years. Competition in the weight throw kicks things off beginning at approximately 10:00 a.m. ET, with up-to-date scoring available at www.FinishTiming.com. A complete recap will be available after the meet at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com. 

Ohio State, fresh off its highest finish at the Big Ten championships in more than eight years, returns the bulk of its roster from last season’s second-place squad. Here is a quick look at some of the top returning athletes and several freshmen who should make an immediate impact in Columbus:

Top Returners
Jeff See – A three-time All-American in both track and cross country, See returns for his senior year with the Buckeyes. The Middletown, Ohio native is one of the top middle distance runners in the nation, having twice competed in the 1500m at the NCAA championships.

Thomas Murdaugh – The sophomore from Dublin, Ohio 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. Murdaugh was also the anchor of two Big Ten champion 4x400m relay teams in 2009.

Elon Simms – One of the top sprinters/hurdlers on the Buckeye roster, Simms sat out for most of the 2009 season with an injury. In his time with the Buckeyes, Simms has won two Big Ten championships in the 4x400m relay and earned several all-Big Ten honors. He owns the second-best time in school history in the 600m a time of 1:17:88 he recorded during the 2007 indoor campaign.

Daniel White – An up-and-coming middle distance star, White qualified for the national championships in the 800m during the 2009 outdoor season, finishing 25th overall. The junior from Brunswick, Ohio is a two-time Mideast regional-qualifier.

Matt DeChant – DeChant was the Buckeyes’ top athlete in both the shot put and weight throw during the 2009 indoor season, finishing sixth in the shot at the conference championships. The sophomore from Avon Lake was a 2008 USATF junior national championship qualifier in the shot put, where he finished sixth with the fifth-best mark in OSU history.

Key Newcomers
Julian Meyer – A relative newcomer to the sport of track and field, Meyer enjoyed an outstanding cross country season for the Buckeyes, recording three Top 10 finishes as a freshman for the Buckeyes. As a high school athlete, Meyer set seven meet records as a junior and lost only a single race during his senior campaign.

Curt Smith – Smith, a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, is the OHSAA Division II state record holder in the shot put at 19.22m (63-0.75). He won the 2008 indoor championship in the shot and was the outdoor runner-up.

Matt Terrell – Terrell joins the Buckeyes as one of the top freshmen sprinters in the nation. A three-time Indiana state champion in the 200m, Terrell was a four-time USATF High School All-American and a Nike Indoor All-American in 2008.

French Fieldhouse Upgrades
A $1.3 million renovation project inside French Fieldhouse was completed in October. Renovations include:

  • An all-new 200-meter state-of-the-art track and indoor field competition surface
  • Brand new bleachers along the south side with a capacity of 800
  • New long jump/triple jump pits
  • Permanent throws area
  • Re-painting of interior roof, steel beams and walls

French Fieldhouse was first completed in 1956 at a cost of just over $1 million. The facility is used primarily for the track and field teams, but is also used as a practice and multi-purpose facility for other sports and special events.

Former Buckeye Woods Added to Coaching Staff
2009 Big Ten decathlon champion Patrick Woods has joined his alma mater as a volunteer assistant coach. In his new role with the Buckeyes, Woods will primarily coach student-athletes competing in multi-events. As a former multi-event star at Ohio State, Woods’ extensive knowledge and experience will be an invaluable asset to the program.

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.

Up Next
Ohio State travels to Ann Arbor Jan. 16 for its annual “Dual” with Michigan.