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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s track and field team travels to Starkville, Miss., this Saturday, March 26, for the inaugural SEC/Big Ten Challenge and the start of the 2011 outdoor season.

Saturday’s scored meet, the brainchild of Mississippi State head coach Al Schmidt, will pit four schools from the Big Ten against four SEC institutions. The Big Ten will be represented by the Buckeyes, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana, while eighth-ranked Mississippi State, No. 13 Mississippi, No. 18 Auburn and No. 23 Georgia will carry the banner for the SEC. Points are awarded to the Top 4 finishers in each event and scored in a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 format – each conference can score a max of four athletes per event.

Action is scheduled to being at approximately 10:30 a.m. ET with competition in the hammer throw. A complete recap will be available after the meet at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.  

Buckeyes Check-in at No. 43 on USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings
The Ohio State men’s track and field team checks-in at No. 43 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s preseason rankings, released March 21.

In all, five Big Ten teams are ranked among the preseason Top 50, led by 10th-ranked Minnesota. Penn State sits just outside the Top 25 at No. 27, followed by No. 35 Indiana, No. 42 Illinois and the Buckeyes. Florida is the top-ranked team in the nation, with Texas A&M and Texas Tech rounding out the Top 3. Future Big Ten member Nebraska is ranked ninth.

Gary, Buckeyes Ink 12 Student-Athletes for 2011-2012
Ohio State track and field and cross country head coach Robert Gary announced the signing of 12 student-athletes for the 2011-2012 academic year March 23. Heavy on distance runners and hurdlers, the well-balanced class also features talented athletes in the jumps, throws and sprints.

“I absolutely believe Ohio is a Top 5 overall state in the country for track and field and cross country recruiting,” Gary said of his 2011 recruiting class. “I think it is a great recipe if you can attract the best talent in Ohio and also find the developmental projects of recruits from Ohio who know what The Ohio State University is all about and already have a great love and sense of pride towards Buckeye Nation.”

In all, the Buckeyes will welcome 10 Ohio products and two accomplished out-of-state prospects to campus next fall, and coaches are hopeful that the team will add even more talent before the end of the signing period. Meet the future Buckeyes:

  • Michael Brajdic // Distance – Bay Village, Ohio – Bay Village
  • Antonio Blanks // Sprints/Hurdles – Dayton, Ohio – Dunbar
  • Josh Sabo // Mid-Distance – Richfield, Ohio – Revere
  • Curtis Hanle // Distance – Louisville, Ohio – Louisville
  • Jeff Hannaford // Distance – Westerville, Ohio – North
  • Brian Hannaford // Distance – Westerville, Ohio – North
  • Michael Bennett // Throws – Centerville, Ohio – Centerville
  • Derrick Anderson // Hurdles – Arlington, Texas – Mansfield Timberview
  • Brad Hess // Distance – Fort Wayne, Ind. – Carroll
  • Luke Norris // Hurdles – Lebanon, Ohio – Lebanon
  • Tyler Parrish // High Jump – Amherst, Ohio – Amherst Steele
  • Jc Murasky // Throws – Zanesville, Ohio – Maysville

Gary, USA Juniors Finish Eighth at World Cross Country Championships
OSU head coach Robert Gary and the United States junior cross country team finished in eighth-place March 20 at the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain.

Totaling a team score of 153, the U.S. was led by Craig Lutz and Ammar Moussa. Lutz crossed the finish line in 29th, followed close behind 32nd-place Moussa. The Top 5 Americans all finished within the Top 60 overall.

Former Buckeye Brian Olinger competed for the men’s senior team, finishing 75th overall. As a team, the United States finished 10th, led by 36th-place finisher Ben True.

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.

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
Five members of the men’s track and field team competed at the NCAA indoor championships March 10-11.

Cory Leslie capped off a stellar indoor season with a 15th-place finish in the mile prelims, earning Second Team All-America honors in a time of 4:03.12.

All-American Thomas Murdaugh finished 15th in the 400m prelims with a time of 47.04 to take home Second Team All-America status.

Michael Hartfield finished 14th overall in the long jump, earning Second Team All-America honors in his first trip to the national championships.

Buckeye throwers Matt DeChant and Max Mays earned All-America honors with 10th and 12th-place finishes in the shot put and weight throw.

Up Next
The Buckeyes travel to Tucson, Ariz., next Friday and Saturday, April 1-2, for the Jim Click Shootout.