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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 16th-ranked Ohio State men’s track and field hits the road once again this Friday and Saturday, Feb.11-12,  when it travels north to Akron, Ohio, for the Akron Invitational.

With two weeks remaining until the Big Ten championships, the Buckeyes will use this weekend’s showcase at Stile Field House as an opportunity not only to rest several top performers, but also to showcase some of their younger student-athletes. The meet will feature Ohio’s top Division I squads and several out of state teams, including No. 8 Penn State, Pittsburgh, Marshall and Duquesne.

Heath Nickles will open the meet for the Buckeyes Friday in the Gold Division heptathlon at 5:00 p.m. ET. The rest of the Buckeyes will compete Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m.  

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.

Former Buckeye Brian Olinger Qualifies for U.S. National Team
Former Ohio State track and field and cross country standout Brian Olinger finished sixth at the 2011 USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego Feb. 5, earning the former All-American his first appearance with the U.S. national team.

Olinger, a five-time All-American and Big Ten champion as a member of the track and field and cross country programs from 2002-2006, ran a 12k time of 36:05 to secure his spot on the Team USA roster for this March’s IAAF world championships in Punta Umbria, Spain. 

“Our program is very proud that Brian has stuck with the support [at Ohio State] and achieved this level of excellence,” Ohio State head coach Robert Gary said of the former Buckeye All-America’s accomplishment. “He is a model for our team and a great representative of Buckeye Nation. We know that he will represent us well.”

Scarlet and Gray Check-in at No. 16 in USTFCCCA Top 25, Second in Regional Poll
Ohio State remained No. 16 in the Feb. 8 edition of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Top 25 poll following Saturday’s trip to the GaREAT Collegiate Invitational.

Three Big Ten teams are featured in the Top 25, with No. 5 Indiana leading the way, followed by No. 8 Penn State, Ohio State, and No. 23 Minnesota. Florida is the top-ranked team in the nation, followed by No. 2 LSU and third-ranked Texas A&M. Future Big Ten member Nebraska checks-in at No. 14 in the poll.

Regionally, the Buckeyes find themselves second in the Great Lakes behind Indiana. Wisconsin is the third-ranked, followed by Akron and Michigan State.

OSU Well Represented in Individual Top 25 Rankings
Eleven members of the men’s track and field team find themselves ranked within the Top 25 in several event areas nationally. A look at where the Buckeyes sit:

Matt DeChant – No. 2 in the shot put, No. 24 in the weight throw
Cory Leslie – No. 3 in the mile
Max Mays – No. 8 in the weight throw
Thomas Murdaugh – No. 9 in the 400m, No. 19 in the 4x400m relay
Michael Hartfield – No. 12 in the long jump
Marcus Brooks – No. 19 in the 4x400m relay
Marvel Brooks – No. 19 in the 4x400m relay
Demoye Bogle – No. 19 in the 4x400m relay
Tyler Branch – No. 22 in the shot put
Aaron Roberts -No. 25 in the 4x400m relay
Korbin Smith – No. 25 in the 4x400m relay

Buckeyes Rack Up 565 Hours of Community Service for Fall Quarter
The Ohio State men’s track and team was hard at work off the track in the Greater Columbus area this past fall, contributing 536 total hours of community service to local organizations and charities.

All 56 team members completed at least 8 hours of volunteer work during fall quarter, with 18 student-athletes contributing 12 or more hours to local communities. Of special mention is the work done by junior Taylor Williams, who completed over 20 hours as a volunteer tutor.

Participating organizations included:

  • Second and Seven
  • Operation Buckeye
  • Life Care Alliance
  • Mid-Ohio Food Bank
  • Lima Food Bank
  • City Life Center
  • Various mentoring programs

In addition, the team continued its volunteer efforts for the third-consecutive year with Fifth Avenue Elementary, where Buckeye student-athletes serve as mentors.

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

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.   

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 Jeff 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
The 16th-ranked Ohio State men’s track and field team competed at the GaREAT Collegiate Invitational in Geneva, Ohio, Feb. 5.

Despite resting several team members, Ohio State nevertheless witnessed a number of impressive performances from its competing student-athletes. Highlights included a 1-2-3-4 finish by the Buckeye weight throwers and first-place efforts from freshman Barron Witherspoon in the 60m hurdles and junior Steve MacDonald in the long jump.

Max Mays led the Buckeye Top 4 sweep in the weight, taking the title at 19.80m (64-11.50). All-American Matt DeChant was the runner-up with a 19.37m (63-6.75) toss, followed by Tyler Branch (season-best mark of 18.88m/61-11.50) and Billy Gehring (18.38m/60-3.75).

Witherspoon used a time of 8.08 to finish in first-place for the Buckeyes in the 60 hurdles, while a 6.97m (22-10.50) leap helped MacDonald to the long jump title.

Up Next
Ohio State will take a week off before traveling to Champaign, Ill., for the 2011 Big Ten Indoor Championships Feb. 26-27.