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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s track team heads south this Thursday, May 26, for the 2010 NCAA East Regional Preliminaries in Greensboro, N.C.

2010 introduces a new format for championship qualification in track and field. Whereas previous years featured four regional championships hosted across the country, the format is now narrowed to two preliminary rounds, with teams east of the Mississippi River competing at the East regional, and schools west of the Mississippi taking to the track in the West prelims. The Top 12 athletes/relay teams in each event will automatically advance to the 2010 NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 9-12.

All-American Christina Manning will be first on the track for the Buckeyes in Greensboro, competing in the first round of the 100m dash Thursday evening at approximately 6:00 p.m. ET.

Preliminary Basics
Days: Thursday, May 27 (11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. ET); Friday, May 28 (11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.) and Saturday, May 29 (11:00 a.m. – 8:50 p.m.)
Venue: Irwin R. Belk Track at Aggie Stadium – Greensboro, N.C.
Host: North Carolina A&T University
Live Results: http://www.ncaa.com/sports/c-otrack/champpage/c-otrack-div1-east-index.html

Buckeyes Competing at the East Regional Prelims
Christina Manning – 100m dash, 100m hurdles
Letecia Wright – 100m hurdles
Shaniqua McGinnis – 400m dash
Latoya Sanderson – 400m dash
Katie Williams – 10000m run
Sarah Foster – 10000m run
Sarah Lowe – 10000m run
Ashley Galbraith – high jump
Kelcey McKinney – triple jump
Maggie Mullen – javelin, hammer throw
4x100m relay (Wright, Manning, McGinnis and Christienne Linton)
4x400m relay (Sanderson, McGinnis, Ashley Caldwell and Nyjah Cousar

Top 25 Teams Competing in Greensboro
No. 3 LSU
No. 5 Virginia Tech
No. 6 Clemson
No. 7 Florida
No. 8 Oregon
No. 10 Penn State
No. 11 Florida State
No. 12 Miami (FL)
No. 19 Indiana

The Ohio State Buckeyes
Junior Wright and sophomore All-American Manning are the leaders of the up-and-coming women’s track and field team at Ohio State.

One of the top hurdlers in the Midwest, Wright has raised her game over the past month, collecting two Big Ten Athlete of the Week awards and posting a PR of 13.07 in the 100m hurdles at the Drake Relays in April, the seventh-best Division I time this season. The Baltimore native secured a pair of Top 10 finishes at the Big Ten championships May 16, a third-place finish in the 100m hurdles and a seventh-place sprint in the 100m dash.

Manning burst onto the national scene this past indoor season, capturing a Big Ten championship and All-American honors in the 60m hurdles and runner-up finishes in both the 100m and 200m dashes at the Big Ten indoor meet. The Waldorf, Md., product was dominant in preliminary action at the Big Ten outdoor championships two weeks ago, but a fall in the 100m hurdle finals ended the sophomore’s quest for additional conference titles. Manning currently holds the eighth-fastest Division I time in the 100m hurdles (13.10).

Shaniqua McGinnis is coming off two second-place finishes at the Big Ten outdoor championships – the sophomore anchored the 4x400m relay team to a runner-up finish, while taking the No. 2 as an individual in the 400m dash. McGinnis is a two-time Big Ten champ with titles in the 400m dash (2010 indoor) and 4x400m relay (2009 outdoor).

Sophomore Maggie Mullen from Ontario, Canada made her impression in the OSU record books as a freshman, shattering OSU records in the javelin and setting the top team marks in the shot put, discus and hammer throw. Mullen showed great improvement in both the shot put and weight throw during the indoor season and has continued to make strides during the outdoor season in the discus and hammer. She broke her own school record at the Big Ten championships May 15 with her title-winning throw of 50.65m (166-02).

Mullen Awarded First-Team All-Big Ten, Sportsmanship Recognition
Big Ten javelin champion Maggie Mullen was named first-team All-Big Ten by the conference office May 19, the lone Buckeye represented on the prestigious All-conference list.

Mullen was also selected as the OSU recipient of the Sportsmanship Award, given to student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through service, citizenship and academics. The Buckeye sophomore is now a candidate for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the league will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

Ohio State Remains Third in USTFCCCA Great Lakes Regional Rankings
The Buckeyes held on to the No. 3 position in the May 18 edition of the Great Lakes Regional Track and Field rankings by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

With 565.94 team points, the Buckeyes trail Big Ten rivals Indiana (661.07) and Wisconsin (586.24) in the region. Rounding out the Top 5 are Michigan State (447.32) and Indiana State (420.14).

The regional rankings – a new concept for the 2010 season – are designed to measure a team’s overall depth, whereas the national poll places greater emphasis on national championship contenders on a team’s roster. Based on this formula, Ohio State ranks among the Top 25 teams nationally.

Top 50 Buckeyes
Nine members of the Ohio State women’s track and field team are ranked among the Top 50 in individual event competition by the USTFCCCA. A look at where the Buckeyes stand:

Letecia Wright – No. 7 in the 100m hurdles; No. 45 in the 4x100m relay
Christina Manning – No. 10 in the 100m hurdles, No. 41 in the 100m dash; No. 45 in the 4x100m relay
Maggie Mullen – No. 13 in the javelin
Shaniqua McGinnis- No. 18 in the 400m dash; No. 23 in the 4x400m relay; No. 41 in the 4x100m relay
Latoya Sanderson – No. 23 in the 4x400m relay
Ashley Caldwell – No. 23 in the 4x400m relay
Nyjah Cousar – No. 23 in the 4x400m relay
Christienne Linton – No. 42 in the 4x400m relay; No. 45 in the 4x100m relay
Ashley Galbraith – No. 45 in the high jump

Buckeyes Ink Seven for 2010-2011
Seven talented student-athletes are set to join the Ohio State women’s track and field team for the 2010-2011 school year, head coach Karen Dennis announced March 8. A look at the newest additions to the Buckeye family:

Adenike Pedro // Sprints/Hurdles – Bladensburg, Md. – Elizabeth Seton
Pedro finished third in the long jump last season at the 2009 Nike Outdoor Track & Field Championships. As a senior, Pedro is currently ranked fifth in country in the long jump and is also one of the top rated sprinters in the country in the 55m, 100m and 200m dashes

Chesna Sykes // Sprints/Hurdles – Columbus, Ohio – Bishop Hartley
One of the top ten 100m runners in the country, Sykes is the 2009 OHSAA Division II state champion in both the 100m and 200m dashes. She placed fourth last year at the 2009 USATF World Youth Track and Field Trials and will look to make a quick impact in Columbus.

KaChay Hullum // Sprints/Hurdles – Akron, Ohio – Firestone
A versatile athlete that will be able to cover a wide range of events, Hullum is a two time OHSAA track and field championship qualifier. Ohio State will be look to use Hullum’s talents in everything from the 100m to the 600m. 

Madeline Hurdt // Throws – Boerne, Texas – Boerne
The 2009 Texas state champion in the shot put, Hurdt was also the sixth-place finisher in the discus. Named the 2008 and 2009 Boerne Field Athlete of the Year, Hurdt took home an impressive first-place finish in the shot put at the prestigious Texas Relays this past year.

Meredith Wagner // Distance – Sylvania, Ohio – Northview
Wagner won the 2009 OHSAA Division I cross country championship. She is a two time state qualifier in cross country and 2009 state track qualifier in the 3200m.

Mallory Kreider // Distance – Kingsville, Ohio – Edgewood
Kreider was the 2009 OHSAA Division II indoor and outdoor state champion in the 3200m and is a three-time state qualifier in cross country as well as track and field. 

Angela Williams // Distance – Hudson, Ohio – Hudson
A two-time OHSAA championship qualifier in cross country, Williams is also an accomplished track athlete, having qualified for competition in the 1600m at the 2009 OHSAA DI championships.

Head Coach Karen Dennis
Karen Dennis was hired as Ohio State’s first women’s head coach since 1993 in July of 2005. Prior to taking over the OSU women’s helm, Dennis spent four seasons as a sprints and hurdles assistant for both the Buckeye men’s and women’s programs. The Detroit, Mich. native and Michigan State grad returned to the Midwest in 2003 following a 10-year stretch (1992-2002) as head coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and after serving as the head coach of the United States women’s national team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

The women’s track and cross country programs have witnessed steady improvement since Dennis took over the reins in 2005. 2009 saw a young roster for both the track and cross country teams, and each side improved significantly throughout their respective seasons. Sarah Foster, Emily Thompson and Jordan Jennewine led the Buckeyes o a one-spot improvement at the Big Ten Championships, while the track team hit its stride late in the season, qualifying five individuals for the NCAA championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Under the direction of Dennis, Letecia Wright finished 16th in the 100m finals, while Latoya Sanderson, Ashley Caldwell, Ayrizanna Favours and Shaniqua McGinnis claimed 11th in the 4x400m relay. The 4x400m squad also claimed the team’s only Big Ten title at league’s 2009 outdoor finals.

Prior to UNLV, Dennis served as the head coach of the Michigan State University track and field program for 11 seasons, where she guided the Spartans to a 1982 Big Ten Outdoor Championship as she was named District IV Coach of the Year. The Spartans thrived under her direction as she produced a number of outstanding athletes. Judi Brown-King won the silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Cheryl Gilliam was a 12-time Big Ten champion. Odessa Smalls won 13 Big Ten titles and earned All-America honors three times. In addition, Dennis coached a Big Ten champ in the 10,000 meters, two-time All-American Mary Shea.

In 1992, Dennis took over the UNLV cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams after 11 seasons at Michigan State. While in Las Vegas, Dennis guided 12 different student-athletes to All-American status. She also coached former distance standout Katie Barto to the NCAA championships in 2002, All-American status and NCAA Woman of the Year honors for the state of Nevada. That same season, Dennis guided Michelle Davis, a six-time All-American, to the 2002 UNLV Sportswoman of the Year Award.

Dennis has been involved on the national and international track and field scenes for quite some time. She served as the assistant coach of the 1995 World Championships squad in Goteborg, Sweden. She also coached the U.S. women’s team at the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba and served as an assistant women’s coach at the World University Championships in Duisburg, Germany, in 1989.

Last Time Out
The Ohio State women’s track and field team finished in sixth-place at the 2010 Big Ten Outdoor Championships in Bloomington, Ind., May 16.

With a total of 79 points, the Buckeyes made a two spot improvement from their finish at the 2009 conference meet. Penn State won its third-straight conference championship (133.50 pts.), with Minnesota settling for second (123 pts.).

Maggie Mullen’s first conference title was the only first-place finish at the championships for Ohio State
– the sophomore’s 50.65m (166-02) mark shattered her own school record, while at the same time placing her among the Top 15 Division I performers in the javelin. Penn State’s Karlee McQuillen, the top athlete in the event headed into the weekend, finished second at 48.34m (158-7.25).

Ohio State’s defending outdoor champion 4x400m relay team eclipsed the previous track record at Indiana, but was unable to duplicate its win from last season. Penn State, with a time of 3:35.18, captured the conference crown just ahead of Buckeyes Latoya Sanderson, Nyjah Cousar, Ashley Caldwell and Shaniqua McGinnis, who crossed the finish line in 3:35.61.

McGinnis and Penn State All-American Fawn Dorr battled for the conference title in the 400m dash, with Dorr taking the win in a personal record time of 52.51, eighth-best in Division I. McGinnis turned in an equally impressive performance for the Buckeyes, finishing second in a season-best time of 52.84, fifth-best in Ohio State outdoor history and a Top 20 run nationally.

The Buckeye 4x100m relay team of McGinnis, Letecia Wright, Christienne Linton and Christina Manning finished third in a season-best time of 44.91. Penn State was the first-place finisher in 44.62, with Illinois taking second in 44.89.

Manning was unable to overtake Penn State All-American Shavon Greaves in the 100m dash title, as the Waldorf, Md., product finished third in 11.77, well behind first-place Greaves (11.56).

Sophomore Kelcey McKinney posted Top 5 finishes in both the long jump (fifth, 5.98m/19-7.50) and triple jump (fourth, 12.47m/40-11). Minnesota’s Todea-Kay Willis took the long jump title back to Minneapolis, while Nkeiru Ugwoaba of Purdue was the conference champ in the triple jump.

Ashley Galbraith finished fifth in the heptathlon with a personal record 4851 points – she posted Top 5 finishes in the high jump (second), 800m dash (fourth) and 100m hurdles (fifth). Dorcas Akinniyi of Wisconsin won the championship with a total of 5584 points.

Freshman Victoria Brink broke Melanie Price’s school record in the 3000m steeplechase with a PR and 11th-place time of 10:44.99. Penn State’s Bridget Franek won the event in a Big Ten championship record time of 9:48.28, the top DI time in the country this season.

Up Next
Qualifying athletes will compete at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., June 9-12.