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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s track and field team opens its 2011 season Friday, January 7 inside French Field House as hosts of the Buckeye Classic.

With French Field House sporting its new look for the second year, competition in the shot put will kick things off beginning at approximately 6:00 p.m. ET, with up-to-date scoring available at www.FinishTiming.com. A complete recap will be available after the meet at www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com.   

Last indoor season the Buckeyes finished second at the Big Ten championships, the team’s highest indoor finish since the 1996 season. Ohio State will be looking to match that success with a younger squad this year – the 2010 Buckeyes feature few seniors, but a host of talented underclassmen eager to compete. Here is a quick look at some of the top returning athletes and several newcomers who should make an immediate impact in Columbus:

Top Returners
Thomas Murdaugh – A two-time All-American and five-time Big Ten champion, Murdaugh has developed into one of the country’s top sprinters in his two years as a Buckeye. As a sophomore in 2010, the Dublin, Ohio, native was named the 2010 Great Lakes Track Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for both the indoor and outdoor seasons, as well as 2010 Big Ten Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Conference Championships during the indoor season.

Matt DeChant – DeChant is a two-time All-American in the shot put, having finished in the Top 10 at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships in 2010. One of the top overall throwers in the Big Ten, DeChant has collected a total of six Top 10 finishes at the conference championships in his two years with the Buckeyes.

Korbin Smith – Smith was a two time Big Ten champion as a freshman, capturing an individual championship in the long jump and earning a second title as a member of the 4x400m relay team. One of the most versatile athletes on the Buckeye roster, Smith is both a prolific sprinter and a talented jumper, and he’ll look to put his talents to good use as he begins competition in the decathlon in 2011.

Key Newcomers
Michael Hartfield – Hartfield, a three time junior college All-American, was the 2010 NJCAA long jump champion at Rend Lake College. With a long jump PR of 7.62m (25 ft.) and a triple jump PR of 15.35m (50-4.25), Hartfield should be an immediate Big Ten contender in the jumps.

Demoye Bogle – One of the premier freshmen sprinter/hurdlers in the Midwest, Bogle was the 2010 OHSAA state champion in the 110m hurdles and the state runner-up in the 300m hurdles. A native Jamaican, Bogle also posted Top 5 finishes in both the 100m and 400m at the 2010 Nike Outdoor Nationals.

Jake Hiltner – Hiltner, the 2010 OHSAA state champion in the 800m, is an up-and-coming middle distance star, having finished third in the 800m at the 2010 New Balance Outdoor Nationals in a PR of 1:50.42. A graduate of Wadsworth High School, Hiltner was also a member of the Grizzlies’ state champion 4x800m relay team.

French Field House
Completed in November 1956 at a cost of $1,010,000, French Field House was designed for indoor track and field meets but is also used as a practice facility for a number of varsity squads at Ohio State.

A $1.3 million renovation project inside the field house was completed in October 2009. Renovations include:

  • An all-new 200-meter state-of-the-art track and indoor field competition surface
  • Brand new bleachers along the south side with a capacity of 800
  • New long jump/triple jump pits
  • Permanent throws area
  • Re-painting of interior roof, steel beams and walls

The field house was named in honor of Prof. William E. French, who was the Western Conference faculty representative for The Ohio State University for 32 years.

Buckeyes No. 31 in USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings
The Ohio State men’s track and field team checks-in at No. 31 in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country preseason rankings.

Six Big Ten teams are featured in the Top 40, with No. 8 Penn State leading the way, followed by No. 10 Indiana, No. 16 Minnesota, Ohio State, No. 36 Wisconsin, and 40th-ranked Illinois. 

Marshall Earns Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week Honors
Freshman Cody Marshall caputured the inaugural Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week award for the 2011 on December 14 after an impressive performance at the Kent State Golden Flash Gala.

Competing in the first meet of his collegiate career, the East Canton, Ohio, native fought his way to a first-place finish in the pole vault at Kent State with a personal-best mark of 4.90m (16-0.75).

The award marked the first for a Buckeye field athlete since Matt DeChant took home the honor in February 2010.

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.

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.

Up Next
The Buckeyes host rival Michigan in “The Dual” January 15 at French Field House.