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Ohio State travels east for 2009 Big Ten Indoor Championships at Penn State

COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State men’s track and field team travels to Penn State this weekend for the Big Ten Indoor Championships, looking to build upon last season’s third-place finish.

The Buckeye will need a big weekend from the throwing quartet of Patrick Whalen, Matt DeChant, Max Mays and Tyler Branch. Whalen has been one of the Big Ten’s top shot putters over the past two seasons, and the three redshirt freshmen will look to keep an Ohio State strangle hold on the weight throw an event Ohio State has won five times over the past six seasons.

The Scarlet and Gray will have to rely on several underclassmen to step on the big stage. Daniel White, a sophomore from Brunswick, Ohio, is one of the top young middle distance runners in the country and will look to lead Ohio State in this event just as he did in 2008. Thomas Murdaugh has been a pleasant surprise for the Buckeyes as a freshman. He is the team leader in the 400m dash and was a member of the 4x400m relay team that set an NCAA provisional mark at the Meyo Invitational in Feb. 7; at the time, their run of 3:10.12 was the seventh best in the nation.

The 60m dash will feature two up-and-coming Ohio State stars. Stephen Robinson, who began his season with an upset of Michigan All-American Adam Harris at The Dual in January, has been challenged in recent weeks by the arrival of Chimdi Chekwa, a defensive back on the OSU football team. Chekwa currently holds, the team’s top time on the year at 6.81 seconds, which also scores as the seventh best time in the conference. Both will be key factors this weekend.

In the high jump, Ryan Blake was a Top 3 freshman at the Big Ten championships in 2008 and is looking to take it to another level this season. Bryan Chard will look to cap his final indoor championship on a high note after vaulting to new heights two weeks ago at the Akron Invitational.

Penn State’s Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track will host the event Saturday and Sunday, with first day action set to begin at 10:00 a.m. EST. Sunday’s events will begin at 10:15 a.m. EST. A limited number of tickets are available now by calling 814-865-5555. General admission All-Session Tickets are available for $12 for adults, with student/youth tickets available for $8. The Big Ten Network will air championship coverage on tape delay Saturday, March 7 at 4:00pm.

Whalen Wows the Crowd in Akron
Senior Patrick Whalen was the star of the night last Friday at the Zips Invitational, claiming first place in the shot put with an NCAA provisional mark of 18.01m, the fifth-best performance in the Big Ten this year. He also tossed his way into sixth place in the weight throw at 17.49m. Whalen, along with fellow throwers DeChant, Mays and Branch, has been one of the most consistent performers for the Buckeyes this season.

A “Manley” Performance
James Manley had a career best day at the Zips Invitational Friday night in Akron, Ohio. The sophomore out of Gahanna Lincoln High School set a personal record in the 60m dash, crossing the finish line just behind teammate Chimdi Chekwa for second place. As a member of the 4×400 relay team, he sparked his squad to a first place finish in 3:14.65, the ninth best run in the Big Ten on the year. Manley looks to be hitting his stride at just the right time for the Buckeyes, and should be a key asset to his team over the weekend.

2008 Big Ten Indoor Championships Recap
Ohio State finished third at the 2008 Big Ten Indoor Championships, its best league showing since 2001. The Buckeyes complied 82 points to finish behind defending national champion Wisconsin and Purdue.

Jeff See claimed the third Big Ten title of his career when he won the mile for the second-consecutive season with a time of 4:22.21, becoming the first Buckeye to win back-to-back conference crowns in the mile. He also took second-place in the 3000-meter run to earn a total of 18 points for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State won the 4×400-meter relay title for the first time since setting the Big Ten meet record in 2001. The team of Matt Comer, Curtis Leuenberger, Elon Simms and Stephen Robinson won the title with a time of 3:13.22.

Graduates Lenny Jatsek and Anthony Cole were the other notable finishers for the Buckeyes. Jatsek’s throw of 70 feet, 6 1/2 inches, was, at the time, the sixth-best toss in the country and an NCAA automatic qualifier. The mark is also the fourth-best toss in Ohio State history. Cole took second-place in the 200m dash with a time of 21.42 and also placed third in the 60-meter dash in 6.71 seconds.

OSU History at Big Ten Indoor Meet
Ohio State has won five Big Ten Indoor Championships and 115 individual titles since joining the Big Ten Conference in 1913, the last team title coming in 1993 under legendary coach Russ Rogers.

Rogers led the track and field program to new heights in the early 90s, as the Buckeyes claimed seven top four finishes at the Indoor Championships from 1990-1996.

OSU’s first title came in 1942 under Larry Snyder. Snyder guided the Scarlet and Gray to three consecutive titles from 1948-1950.

Former All-American Andrew Pierce was named Athlete of the Championship in 2001 after setting three Big Ten records and leading OSU to a third place finish. Pierce still holds indoor records in the 200m and 400m dashes and in the 4x400m relay.

NCAA Champion Dan Taylor, a 2004 Ohio State graduate, holds the Big Ten Indoor record in the weight throw, which he set in 2003 with a hurl of 22.35m. Tom Byers has a retired championship record in the 1000 yard run, which he set on an eight-lap, unbanked track in 1974.

Last Time Out
The OSU men competed Friday night in Akron, Ohio at the Zips Invitational in final preparation for the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

Led by another excellent performance from the throwing team of Patrick Whalen, Matt DeChant, Max Mays and Tyler Branch, OSU put together a solid effort despite resting several of their top athletes. 

Whalen, as stated above, took home the title in the shot put and sixth place in the weight throw. DeChant earned two top three placements on the night, as he took second in the weight throw at 18.60m and third in the shot (17.47m). Mays and Branch were dependable once again for the Buckeyes; Mays took third in the weight throw and Branch fifth in both the weight and shot.

On the track, OSU was led by a one-two finish in the 4×400 relay. The team of Curtis Leuenberger, James Manley, Aaron Roberts and Stuart Smith crossed the finish line in 3:14.65 to pull out a close victory over teammates Brandon Woodard, Matt Comer, Stephen Robinson and Thomas Murdaugh.

Ohio State also took the top two slots in the 60m dash. Chimdi Chekwa followed up his strong performance last weekend with a first place sprint in 6.84, beating out James Manley by .07 seconds. Chekwa’s run was the seventh best in the Big Ten this season.