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Feb. 7, 2007

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s track and field team heads to Penn State for the Sykes-Sabock Challenge. This meet is hosted by No. 18 Penn State in the Multi-Sport Facility in State College, Pa.

SYKES-SABOCK CHALLENGE
Days: Friday 7 pm – 10 pm Saturday -All Day
Venue: Ashenfelter Multi-Sport Facility
Meet Information: www.gopsusports.com

LAST WEEK: NEW BALANCE COLLEGATIE INVITE AND AKRON INVITE
Friday – Ohio State competed in the first day of action at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational on Friday. The women’s team was lead by Jenna Harris taking second in the preliminaries in the 60-meter dash.

Harris finished in a time of 7.39, this is the second best time in Ohio State history and is the 16th best time in the country and the second best in the Big Ten this year.

Harris will compete in the finals of the NB Collegiate Invite tomorrow. Also on the track Laura Piper took sixth in the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:56.25. Ashley Caldwell took sixth in the 500-meter run in a time of 1:15.22.

Saturday – Ohio State finished the final day of the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in New York, N.Y., inside the Armory Fieldhouse. Ohio State was led in the Armory by sophomore Veronica Jatsek, who won the weight throw, while senior Kim Willet cleared the top mark in the Akron Invitational pole vault in Akron, Ohio.

Jatsek won the Armory weight with an NCAA provisional and season best mark of 65 feet, 4 inches. Her mark is the seventh best throw in the country this season.

On the Armory track, the team of Chandra Krempel, Ashley Caldwell, Ayrizonna Favours and Jenna Harris took down the school record in the 4×400-meter relay in a time of 3:39.77. The time is one of the Top 16 in the nation this year and earned the team a sixth place finish in the event.

Harris finished the event with a pair of top 10 finishes, taking sixth in the 60-meter dash in 7.45 and adding an eighth-place time in the 200-meter dash in 23.97.Also in the field, Veronica Vance came in fifth in the triple jump with a mark of 39-4 1/2.

At Akron, Willet tied the Ohio State record with a winning mark of 11-11 3/4 in the pole vault. In running events, freshman Saryana Ferguson was third in the 200m (25.51), freshman Ashley Jones was third in the mile (5:08.3) and senior Melanie Price paced a sixth-place time of 10:11.93 in the 3,000m.

WOMEN SET RECORD IN 4X400-METER RELAY
At the New Balance Invitational the Buckeye set the school record in the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 3:39.77.

With this mark the team of Chandra Krempel, Ashley Caldwell, Ayrizonna Favours and Jenna Harris topped the mark last season by .18 seconds. All except Caldwell were members of the team that set the mark a season ago.

This NCAA provisional mark is not that surprising because both Favours and Harris are currently ranked in the Top 15 in the nation in the 400-meter dash.

The time is currently the third best time in the Big Ten this season and is the 16th best 4x400m relay time in the country.

WOMEN IN THE NATIONAL RANKS
In the 400-meter dash the Buckeyes have two of the two ten times in the country this season with Jenna Harris and Ayrizonna Favours with their times of 54.13. They are currently tied for second in the Big Ten and tied for 12th in the country this season.

With a time of 3:39.77 the women’s 4×400 relay team broke into the national rankings with appearing in the 16 spot.

Veronica Jatsek is also in the national rankings in the weight throw with her throw 65-3 3/4. Jatsek is the current Big Ten lead in the event and is ranked eighth nationally.

BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN RANKS
The Buckeyes have several women in the Top 5 in there events. Senior Jenna Harris is second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.39 at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.

This time was a personal best for Harris and the second best in Ohio State history in the event. The time is also in the Top 20 in the country this season.

Harris’ time at the NBC Invite in the 200-meter dash of 23.96 is the fifth best in the conference

Harris also has is also tied for third in the Big Ten in the 400-meter dash with her time of 54.13. Harris is tied with teammate Ayrizanna Favours with the same time. This time also provisional qualifies them for the NCAA championships.

The women’s 4×400-meter relay team is currently third in the league with it’s time of 3:39.77 at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.

Jessica Stringer, a three time Big Ten champion in the high jump, is tied for fifth in the Big Ten season with a jump of 5-8.

In the weight throw Veronica Jatsek leads the Big Ten with her NCAA provisional toss of 65-3 3/4. This mark came at the New Balance Invite and is the best toss in the conference by almost two feet.

BUCKEYES INK STANDOUT HIGH JUMPER
Karen Dennis, Ohio State women’s track and field head coach, announced Friday the signing of recruit Laura Allred, a high jumper from Cypress, Texas. A participant in the 2006 U.S. Junior Nationals meet, Allred owns a personal-best mark of 5 feet, 8 inches.

Allred holds the high jump record at Cy-Fair High School and helped the team to district championships in each of the last two seasons. A participant in the 2006 U.S. Junior Nationals meet, Allred claimed the 2005 and 6 district high jump titles. She also was named district jumper of the year the last two seasons.

“We are excited about Laura signing in the early signing period, Dennis, in her first season as Ohio State head coach, said. She is the fourth best high school high jumper returning for the 2007 year. She is smart, highly motivated and really studies her craft. We believe with hard work she will become one of the finest high jumpers in our conference, and nationally. It’s also good to have made an impact on the great state of Texas.”

Allred was a 2006 Jr. Olympic qualifier and National Youth Elite Athlete All-American. She was named to the 2006 All-Greater Houston Track and Field Team after taking third place at the Texas Relays. Overall, Allred has 18 event titles in her scholastic career.

A Special Olympics volunteer, Allred is a member of the Cy-Fair honor roll and serves as a mentor in her community.

THERE IS NO HALTING HARRIS
Jenna Harris is making the most of her senior season and rewriting the Ohio State record books. Harris has taken aim at two school record so far this season.

Harris as a member of the 4×400-meter relay team set a record last week at the New Balance Invite with a time of 3:39.77.

Harris almost took down another school record in the same day. In the 60-meter dash Harris set a personal best time of 7.39 just .07 off the school record.

Harris is also tied for thrid in the Ohio State record book in the 400-meter dash with her time of 54.14 at the Kentucky Invitational. Harris is tied with current Buckeye Ayrizanna Favours, who ran the same time at the Indiana Team Classic.

DOING THE RECORDS NO FAVOURS
In only her second season sophomore Ayrizanna Favours is making a name for herself as one of the best 400-meter runners in Ohio State history.

Favours currently holds the fifth and is tied for the third best time in Ohio State history in the 400.

Favours has also been a member of the last two 4×400-meter relays teams to break the school record (2006, 3:39.95; 2007, 3:39.77).

Favours time at Indiana provisional qualifies her for the NCAA championships and it is the 13th best time in the country.

WILLING HER WAY TO THE TOP
Sophomore Kim Willet tied the third best mark in school history in the pole vault last week with her winning jump at Akron of 11-11 3/4.

This gives Willet the second and third best marks in Ohio State history in the pole vault.

Willet is still after Becky Heintz school record of 12-5 1/2 set in 2004.

2007 OHIO STATE TRACK AND FIELD OUTLOOK
Karen Dennis begins her first season as head coach of Ohio State women’s track and field in 2007. A split program for the first time since 1993, the women’s team returns several accomplished veterans, who have experienced success in Big Ten competition and on a nation scale. That group will have the opportunity to mesh with a talented assembly of newcomers in 2007.

“I am excited for this opportunity,” Dennis, a Detroit native who ran collegiately at Michigan State, said. “We plan to make great strides in this new era at Ohio State and refocus attention to the superior product we have here and move in a winning direction.

“Ohio State has a great tradition. There are so many great teams here and I’m proud to be a part of that. I want to make Ohio State the premier team in the conference and a top team nationally.”

Dennis, in her third stint as a head coach, having previously directed the Michigan State and UNLV women’s programs, welcomes back a pair of Big Ten champions in sprinter Jenna Harris and high jumper Jessica Stringer. Both All-Big Ten and All-District NCAA Academic award winners, Harris and Stringer have combined to claim five Big Ten titles in their careers. Harris won the 60-meter and 100-meter dashes at the 2005 indoor and outdoor Big Ten meets, while Stringer has won the last three league high jump titles at the 2006 indoor and 2005 and ’06 outdoor meets.

Fellow seniors Janell Mitchell, Melanie Price and Veronica Vance also add leadership. Price, who owns the Ohio State record in the steeplechase, will captain a veteran distance squad. Mitchell will represent the Buckeyes in sprints, hurdles, relays and jumps, while Vance will look to score again at the Big Ten meet in the long and triple jump events. Vance, a transfer in 2005 from Bowling Green, topped the Buckeyes in the long and triple jumps during both the indoor and outdoor campaigns and will vie for a league crown this season.

Several underclassmen gained valuable experience in 2006. In her first season with the Scarlet and Gray, Ayrizanna Favours earned All-Big Ten second-team honors in the outdoor 400 meters and qualified for her first NCAA Mideast Regional. Fellow sophomores Bever-Liegh Holloway (hurdles), Jessica Jones (sprints/relays) and Chandra Krempel bolster a solid Buckeye sprints squad and combine with Harris and Mitchell to present a formidable relay units as well. The group set the OSU indoor 4x400m relay record last season, turning in a 3:39.95.

Kim Willet, Ohio State’s pole vault record-holder, is back for her sophomore season as well, while classmate Veronica Jatsek is the top returning thrower.

SCHEDULE
Ohio State’s season kicks off at the Kentucky Invitational in Lexington, Ky., Jan. 12 before heading to Big Ten country in back-to-back trips to Bloomington, Ind., for a tri-meet with Indiana and Purdue (Jan. 20) and the Indiana Invitational (Jan. 26-27).

The Buckeyes head for another Big Ten site for the Sykes-Sabock Challenge in State College, Pa., Feb. 10, prior to returning to Columbus to play host to the regular-season finale Buckeye Invitational (Feb. 17) in French Field House.

The league indoor championships are slated to run Feb. 24-25 in Champaign, Ill. After Ohio State student-athletes attempt a final time to qualify for the national meet March 2-3 at the Alex Wilson Last Chance in South Bend, Ind., those who gain a NCAA bid will compete March 8-10 in Fayetteville, Ark.

The outdoor slate gets underway March 21-24 at the Arizona State Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. The Buckeyes head back to their home state April 6-7 for the All-Ohio Championships in Cincinnati.

Ohio State will utilize a selected squad to compete the next two weeks at the Sea Ray Relays April 13-14 in Knoxville, Tenn., and Oregon Invitational (April 20-21) in Eugene, Ore. Select members of the team also will travel the next week (April 25-28) to either the Penn Relays, Drake Relays or Stanford Invite.

Ohio State’s feature home event is the Jesse Owens Track Classic, held May 4-5 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. “The Jesse” will celebrate its 22nd running in 2007.

This season, the Mideast Regional will be hosted by the University of Missouri and run May 25-26, two weeks prior to the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, which again will be held in Sacramento, Calif.

DENNIS COMPLETES COACHING STAFF
In August, Ron Davis and Qingyi Zheng were named women’s track and field assistant coaches by head coach Karen Dennis. Davis will serve as distance coach and Zheng will guide field and multi-event athletes. Davis comes to Ohio State from South Alabama and Zheng last coached at Michigan State.

Both Davis and Qingyi Zheng (SHIN-yee ZENG) have coached track and field for more than 30 years.

“I’m excited both Ron and Qingyi decided to join our staff,” Dennis said. “They have the experience to hit the ground running and provide quality coaching our student-athletes deserve. I am familiar with both coaches and I think they will add that extra ingredient to move our program in a winning direction.”

Davis, a former track and field and cross country head coach at New Orleans and Maryland-Eastern Shore, headed the South Alabama distance program the last four seasons and guided the Jaguars to new levels of success in both cross country and track. Last season, he mentored Vincent Rono to South Alabama’s first individual NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the 1,500-meter run.

In the 2006 indoor season, South Alabama’s men’s distance team dominated the Sun Belt Conference championships, becoming the first unit in league history to sweep the 800m, mile, 3,000m, and 5,000m events. The men’s team also established six team records during the outdoor schedule.

Prior to his stint at USA, Davis directed the New Orleans women’s cross country program to a Sun Belt Championship in 2000, the first in school history.

Zheng previously coached with Dennis at UNLV from 1997-2002. He then directed field and multi-events at Michigan State until 2005.

During Zheng’s tenure at UNLV, the Lady Rebels finished second in the Mountain West Conference each of his last three seasons and eight individuals claimed league titles. Zheng also was an assistant coach on the 2001 U.S. Women’s Track and Field team for the World University Games in Beijing, China. Zheng returned to Beijing in August as jumps coach of the U.S. team at the 2006 World Junior Championships.

Prior to his stint at UNLV, Zheng was a men’s assistant coach at the University of Idaho from 1993-97. While at Idaho, the Vandals won the Big Sky Outdoor Track and Field championship in 1995 and 1996, and the 1997 Big West Outdoor Track and Field championship.

UP NEXT
The Buckeyes will host their first meet of the season the Buckeye Invitational as a tune up for the Big Ten Championships. The Buckeye Invite is on Feb. 17.