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COLUMBUS, Ohio – 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 Wednesday. 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
One of the top distance prospects out of the state of Ohio in years, Brajdic is a two-time Division II state cross country champion, having broken former Olympian Bob Kennedy’s state championship record time at the 2010 meet with a record run of 15:01.09. The 2010 recipient of the Ohio Gatorade Cross Country Athlete of the Year award and a 2010 Footlocker finalist, Brajdic is expected to be an immediate contributor on the track and cross country course for the Buckeyes.

Coach Gary on Brajdic: “Michael has had a phenomenal jump in performance that started last year, but has really jumped up this year – to break Bob Kennedy’s championship record puts him in the discussion as one of the best cross country runners ever out of Ohio, and that is saying a great deal when you think about the state’s great distance history and tradition.”

PRs: 4:13.44 (mile), 9:08.41 (3200m), 14:54.89 (5000m)

Antonio Blanks // Sprints/Hurdles – Dayton, Ohio – Dunbar
The 2010 Division I state champion in the 300m hurdles and a member of Dunbar’s state runner-up 4x400m relay team, Blanks is one of the top sprinter/hurdler prospects in the nation. Blanks has been dominant on the indoor circuit this winter, claiming state titles in the 60m hurdles, 400m dash, and triple jump and runner-up in the 200m dash at the OATCCC indoor championships last Saturday.

Coach Gary on Blanks: “Along with Antonio’s excellent academic record [Blanks is a member of Ohio State’s Young Scholars Program], I have been most excited about his sense of ‘team’ whenever he discusses his seasonal goals. It is exciting to watch him develop as a national-class sprinter – he should be an excellent addition to a strong group of young hurdlers, as well as to our 4x400m relay, where his speed should help us return to the 3:03-level that we ran in 2010.”

PRs: 7.23 (60m), 8.03 (60m hurdles), 10.91 (100m), 14.54 (110m hurdles), 22.07 (200m), 37.26 (300m hurdles), 48.57 (400m), 14.15m/46-5 (triple jump)

Josh Sabo // Mid-Distance – Richfield, Ohio – Revere
A former teammate of OSU sophomore Julian Meyer at Revere High School, Sabo is the 2010 OHSAA Division I runner-up in the mile. Sabo displays excellent range, posting impress times in both middle distance and long distance events, which should make him a valuable asset to the Buckeyes’ distance program.

Coach Gary on Sabo: “Josh has some very lofty goals that include a historic mile/800 double and/or an assault on the Ohio high school record of 4:05 in the mile. We will probably redshirt him in cross country to help prepare him for the indoor track season, where we would like for him to follow in the footsteps of Jeff See [2010 USATF indoor mile champion] and current junior Cory Leslie [3:57 indoors, 2011].”

PRs: 1:52.69 (800m), 4:12.10 (mile), 15:03 (5000m)

Curtis Hanle // Distance – Louisville, Ohio – Louisville
A three-time OHSAA state cross country participant, Hanle turned in Top 10 performances as both a junior and senior, highlighted by his fourth-place effort in 2010. Hanle has also enjoyed success on the track having finished 12th in the 3200m at the 2010 OHSAA state championships.

Coach Gary on Hanle: “I would not be surprised at all to see Curtis make a good run at breaking 9 minutes for two miles in the right race and decent conditions. His training in high school allows for him to decide on whether to redshirt cross country or not – he has a great deal of untapped potential.”

PRs: 4:20.27 (mile), 9:28.67 (3200m), 15:12.20 (5000m)

Brian Hannaford // Distance – Westerville, Ohio – North
Hannaford finished third at the 2010 OHSAA DI Cross Country Championships and eighth in the 3200m at last spring’s state track and field championships. Hannaford has made a big jump in performance in the past year and just last week set a PR in the 3200m (9:14.87) at OATCCC indoor championships, taking second.

Coach Gary on B. Hannaford: “Brian, as well as his brother Jeff, will be great additions to our program. Similar to Curtis Hanle, I am excited about his potential and their ability to grow as a recruiting class together over the next four or five years. Both Brian and his brother have just now started to get their mileage up so that the transition will be smoother for their first year in college.”

PRs: 4:21.37 (mile), 9:14.87 (3200m), 15:23.23 (5000m)

Jeff Hannaford // Distance – Westerville, Ohio – North
Hannaford is a two-time Top 10 finisher in the 3200m at the OHSAA DI state championships, taking fifth in 2009 and seventh in 2010. He is also a three-time state cross country participant, turning in an eighth-place finish in 2009.

Coach Gary on J. Hannaford: “Jeff is part of a very big and very talented distance class that could very well wind up all running around nine minutes in the 3200m. It will be exciting to watch Jeff’s progression inside this group.”

PRs: 4:23.01 (mile), 9:20.14 (3200m), 15:37 (5000m)

Michael Bennett // Throws – Centerville, Ohio – Centerville
While most know Bennett as a star recruit at defensive line for the Ohio State football team, he is also a prolific thrower for the Centerville track and field squad. The 2010 Division I state runner-up in the shot put and third-place finisher in the discus, Bennett will compete for the track and field Buckeyes provided he can make time away from his commitment to football.

Coach Gary on Bennett: “Michael’s priorities are his academics and football, but if things work out, our track program looks forward to having the opportunity to work with a great athlete and person.”

PRs: 59.82m/196-3 (discus), 18.26m/59-10.75 (shot), 18.90m/62-0.25 (weight), 50.90m/167 ft (hammer)

Derrick Anderson // Hurdles – Arlington, Texas – Mansfield Timberview
An up-and-coming hurdler, Anderson turned in first place finishes in both the 110m and 300m hurdles at the 2010 Texas District 8-4A Championships. Anderson also has experience in relay events having competed at the state level in the 4x400m relay.

Coach Gary on Anderson: “Derrick really impressed us on his visit. We have a group of six hurdlers than are all true freshmen, so we are excited to get a full training group that can develop together towards the future.”

PRs: 14.11 (110m hurdles), 38.82 (300m hurdles)

Brad Hess // Distance – Fort Wayne, Ind. – Carroll
One the premier cross country runners in the state of Indiana, Hess was the third-place finisher at the Indiana state cross country championships as a senior in 2010 and a Top 15 finisher at the meet as a junior in ’09. Although Hess has exclusively competed in cross country at the high school level, Buckeye coaches believe that he is built well for the rigors of 5000 meter and 10000 meter races on the track.

Coach Gary on Hess: “Brad and his family have long-connections to Ohio and Ohio State, so it was very enjoyable talking about Buckeye Nation with them throughout the recruiting process. Indiana is a very strong state for distance runners, so Brad took some great scalps in finishing second at the state cross country meet. Brad seems built for the longer distances, so I think the increased length of cross country races at the college level, as well as the 10k outdoors will really suit him well.”

PRs: 15:24.30 (5000m, XC)

Luke Norris // Hurdles – Lebanon, Ohio – Lebanon
Norris will add depth to a young and talented hurdling squad – the Lebanon product set a PR in the 300m hurdles at last spring’s state championships meet, placing second in Division I. While Buckeye coaches expect Norris to compete primarily in the long hurdles, he is also skilled in the short hurdles and sprints, and could potentially contribute in those areas as well.

Coach Gary on Norris: “I’m excited to add Luke, along with Derrick and Antonio, to our hurdling program. Luke will join former rival Demoye Bogle [OSU freshman, third-place in the 60m hurdles at the Big Ten indoor championship] and cover the long hurdles for us. He also seems very excited to be a part of our University, which is always great.” 

PRs: 14.74 (110m hurdles), 22.74 (200m), 37.31 (300m hurdles)

Tyler Parrish // High Jump – Amherst, Ohio – Amherst Steele
Parrish will be a valuable asset for the Buckeyes in the high jump, a position of need for the Scarlet and Gray. The 12th-place finisher in the high jump at the 2010 OHSAA DI Championships at 6-4, Parrish has made a major jump as a senior, currently holding a PR of 6-9 after winning the OATCCC state indoor title March 19th.

Coach Gary on Parrish: “Tyler has much to live up to in the shadow of his mother, who was a star jumper for the Lady Buckeyes. We are very excited about his athleticism and perhaps looking at him for multi-events. I would not be surprised to see Tyler end up jumping 7 feet next spring.” 

PRs: 2.06m/6-9 (high jump)

Jc Murasky // Throws – Zanesville, Ohio – Maysville
A relative newcomer to track and field, Murasky has been quick to embrace the sport, earning a pair of fourth-place finishes in the shot put and discus the last spring’s OHSAA state championships.  Coaches believe that Murasky has the potential to develop into a strong discus thrower for the Buckeyes.

Coach Gary on Murasky: “Jc has only competed in the discus for one season and has already broken the school record and earned a trip to the OHSAA state championships. As JC matures in the discus, he will become a strong competitor for our team.”

PRs: 49.28m/161-8 (discus), 15.75m/51-8 (shot put)