COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State men’s track and field team begins its 2009 season this Saturday at nearby Capital University. The 2009 Rev. Mike Hout Inviational will take place at the Capital Center in Bexley, Ohio. Field events are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. followed by the running events at 5 p.m.
Ohio State posted some great results in 2008, finishing in the top 3 at both the indoor and outdoor conference meets. In 2009 the Buckeyes will look to take another step up.
“Going into all of the conference meets last season, including cross country, I think we were ranked fifth,” head coach Robert Gary said. “However, we worked as a team in all of those meets and guys stepped up for their teammates.”
Ohio State returns more points for the conference championships meet then any other school and will try to use that to its’ advantage in 2009. With many Ohio State leaders leaving following the 2008 season it will be the responsibility of the younger guys that have been in their shadow to step into the spotlight.
In sprints Ohio State returns all of its 2008 Big Ten indoor championship team in the 4×400-meters. In the 60-meter dash Aaron Johnson and Curtis Leuenberger look to fill the void left by Anthony Cole. In the 200-meter dash Matt Comer looks to step right in to Cole’s place as one of the conference’s best. Comer led the team in the 400-meter dash in 2008 and made the final at the Big Ten Championships which will put him in a solid position in 2009.
“One thing we have really tried to build with this team is that it is a team,” Gary said. “Everyone is accountable and that is one of the great attributes.”
Daniel White is one of the top young middle distance runners in the country and will look to lead the Buckeyes in this event just as he did in 2008.
In the mile run Jeff See holds the last two Big Ten titles and claimed All-American honors in 2008. See also is solid in the 3,000-meter run and holds the second-best time in school history and could try to pull off the extreme double of the mile and the 3,000-meters at the Big Ten Indoor championships. In the 5,000-meter run Chad Balyo, after leading the team in the event in 2008, looks to go from young and talent to Big Ten champion.
In the high jump, Ryan Blake was a Top 3 freshman at the Big Ten championships in 2008 but is looking to take it to another level this season. Justin Yates was good among freshmen in 2008 in both the long jump and triple jump but now he looks to take down the conference’s best in 2009.
In the throws the Buckeyes return Patrick Whalen, one of the Big Ten’s Top 3 shot putters over the past two seasons. Ohio State will also use four redshirt freshmen to try and keep a strangle hold on the weight throw — an event Ohio State has won the five times over the past six seasons.
Ohio State will look to use team balance and a few standout athletes to improve on a third-place finish at the Big Ten championships in 2008.
Bryan Bunnell and Patrick Filipi are two guys who do not compete in indoor who will make a big impact in 2009. The pair finished 1-2 at the Big Ten championships in the javelin with Bunnell taking the title.
“Anytime you can finish 1-2 in an event it gets the whole team fired up,” Gary said. “When athletes step up like that it gets everyone into it which is exactly the kind of culture we are building.”
The outdoor season will also feature See looking to repeat the great season he posted in 2008 with a second-place finish in the 1,500-meter run and All-American honors in the 1,500m.
Baylo in the 3,000-meter meter steeplechase also is an up-and-comer and could be the next great Ohio State steeplechase runner.
Cory Leslie is the one of the top distance recruits in the country. He won the 2008 Ohio state championship in the mile and 800m, breaking former Buckeye and current volunteer coach Rob Myers’ state record. He placed third at the junior championships, just missing out on a berth on the world junior championship team. Leslie ran the best 1,500m time by a high school athlete with a time of 3:49.51. He won the 2007 Division II Ohio High School cross country championship, topping the field by 14 seconds and in the 5-kilometer race in a time of 15:33.47. Leslie also won the 2007 Ohio High School Championships in the mile and is a member of Sandusky Perkins 4×800 meter 2007 State Championships team.
“I think Cory had a realistic shot of breaking the state record in the mile, but what I like about him more is that his goals are based on winning titles and helping his team make a run at winning state,” Gary said. “Adding him to a really strong mile group volunteer coach Rob Myers, Jeff See, Chad Balyo and Jake Edwards will really help the whole group.”
Jared Hall is one of the top mid-distance runners in the country and held the fastest time in the indoor 800m in the country. He led his high school to the Division I state championship and placed first in the 800m at the Midwest Meet of Champions. Hall won the 2007 Ohio High School Championships at 800 meters and holds a personal-best time in the 800 meters of 1:50. Hall also was a finalist in the 800 meter run at the 2007 United States of America Track and Field (USATF) Junior Championships.
“Jared comes from one of the powerhouses in the state in Cleveland Heights where he was coached by Ohio High School Hall of Fame Coach Claude Holland,” Gary said. “Hall brings with him a high level and understanding of expectations, handling pressure and commitment. He gives great depth to a 3:07 4×400 team that we have through the 2009 season. Additionally, with the addition of Cory Leslie and Jared with Jeff See, we are putting together a potential NCAA Champion distance medley relay team.”
After this weekend, the Buckeyes travel north for “The Dual” in Ann Arbor, Mich., January 17 against the Wolverines. Ohio State will try to hold on to the Ohio State-Michigan Dual Pennant. Michigan won the pennant during the indoor half of the dual in 2008 but Ohio State then finished ahead of Michigan at the Big Ten Championships. After a week off Ohio State will have their first two-day event Jan. 30-31 in University Park, Pa., as the scarlet and gray return to Big Ten action with the Penn State National Invitational. Feb. 6-7 the Buckeyes will split with part of the team heading to the Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind., and other members will head to the Rod McCravey Invitational. The scarlet and gray will stay split for the weekend of Feb. 13-14 as most the team will head to the Akron Invitational with select athletes heading to the Washington Husky Invitational in Seattle, Wash. Most of the team will then have a final regular season tune up at the Akron Zips open in Akron, Ohio Feb., 20. Ohio State then travels to University Park, Pa., to try and improve on a third-place finish in 2009 at the Big Ten Champions Feb. 28-March 1. The next week will be student-athletes last chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships. March 6-7 Ohio State will send its team to the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind. The NCAA Indoor Championships will be hosted by Texas A&M in College Station, Texas March 13-14.
Ohio State opens the outdoor season at the Arizona State Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., March 28-29. The Buckeyes then travel to Alabama for the Auburn Tiger Track Classic April 4. The following week “The Dual” resumes as Michigan comes to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium April 11. Michigan won the Big Ten Outdoor Championship in 2008 but lost the outdoor half of “The Dual” to the Scarlet and Gray. The team then splits with some of the team heading to All-Ohio Championships in Oxford, Ohio and other members heading to the Louisville Invitational in Louisville Ky., April 17-18. Ohio State reunites to head to Drake Relays in Des Monies, Iowa April 23-25. May 1-2 the Buckeyes will host the 24th Jesse Owens Track Classic in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Not all of the team will compete in the Jesse Owens Classic as select distance runners will head to the Stanford Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., May 3. The Cedarville Invitational May 8 in Cedarville, Ohio will be the Buckeyes final tune up before the Big Ten Championships hosted by the Buckeyes at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium May 15-17. The Buckeyes will look to improve on a third-place finish in 2008. Qualified student-athletes will then head to the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships in Louisville Ky., May 29-30. The 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held in Fayetteville, Ark June 10-13. Ohio State will also look to send athletes to the USATF Junior Track and Field Championships June 19-21 and to the USATF Track and Field Championships in Eugene Ore., June 26-28.