Aug. 23, 2006

This season the women’s squad will look to improve on a ninth-place finish at the Big Ten championship and a 16th-place score at the Great Lakes Regional meet. The women ran a young team in 2005 and that looks to pay dividends in 2006 as the Buckeyes will return nearly all of their Top 5. In the 2005 Big Ten Championships, no team in the conference had a greater improvement in overall points than the Buckeyes and they look to keep climbing this season. Ohio State will be led by a trio of juniors in Laura Piper, Melanie Grim and Brittannie Hall and senior Melanie Price, who holds the fastest returning time in a 6K (21:43).

Underclassmen also will play a big role this season. Sophomore Rachel Stichter finished just outside of the Buckeyes Top 5 last season at the Big Ten championships and should get her chance to move up this year.

“We are going to try and be in the top half of the conference this season,” Gary said. “We also want to position ourselves so that if we have a great race at regionals we could be the first team in school history to qualify for the national meet.”

The Buckeyes also will look to some key freshmen additions as they add Sarah Foster, Kelly Schwieterman and Lydia Kern to the roster for the 2006 campaign. Foster was the Division II State champion in the 3,200m in 2005 and the All-Ohio Champion in 2005. Schwieterman was a four-time State qualifier in cross country and finished third at the 2004 Ohio Cross Country State Championships with a time of 18:30. Schwieterman also was named to the All-Ohio team in cross country twice. “Last year we received our first regional ranking in 15 years and I think there were some very good steps taken,” Gary said. “We had a really great meet two weeks before the Big Ten championship and I think if we could just push the team’s conditioning back a couple of weeks we could get in the Top 5 and Big Ten’s this year.”

Winners Return
The women’s team will return its Top 5 runners from the squad that won the Xavier Invitational last season. The women’s team also returns four of its Top 5 from the team that took first at the Louisville Invitational. The win at Xavier was the first for the women’s team in four seasons.

Stichter, Grim, Price, and Piper were all members of both the team’s Top-5 squads that won at Louisville and at Xavier. This season, the women will get the chance to defend their titles at Xavier Sept. 9 and at Louisville on Sept. 30.

The women’s team will add many young stars to its roster this season. Foster comes to Ohio State from Milan, Ohio, and Edison High School, where she was the Division II state champion in the 3,200m and the All-Ohio champion in 2005. Running is in Foster’s blood as her father, Randy, was a collegiate track and cross country runner for Ohio University. Schwieterman joins the women’s team from Springboro High School in Springboro, Ohio, the same school as fellow newcomer on the men’s side Chad Balyo. Schwieterman was a four-time State qualifier in cross country and finished third at the 2004 Ohio Cross Country State Championships with a time of 18:30. Schwieterman also twice was named to the All-Ohio team.

The women’s team will also add Lydia Kern, who comes to the Buckeyes from one of the most successful women’s teams in the state of Ohio in Colerain High School in Cincinnati. Kern was a member of the 2003 and 2004 state runner up in cross country and helped the Cardinals to three district titles and three regional titles. Kern brings personal best times of 12:40 in the 2-mile and 19:30 in the 5K to the Buckeyes.

“These are the types of women we need to get in this program,” Gary said. “They are really going to help the overall attitude of the team and the program in general.”

Women’s Schedule
The 2006 season gets underway at the Great Lakes 5K Shootout at Xavier University in Cincinnati Sept. 9. The OSU women won at Xavier last season in its season-opening event. The Buckeyes head south again Sept. 30 for the Louisville Invitational. Last year, the women’s team captured the team title at Louisville. Following an off week, the Buckeyes will look for another strong team effort at the All-Ohio Championships in Delaware Oct. 6. The women’s team has finished in the Top 3 in each of the last four seasons.

The NCAA Pre-National meet is Oct. 14 in Terre Haute, Ind., before the Buckeyes gear up for the 2006 Big Ten Championships Oct. 29 at Indiana University. The season caps off at the regional and national levels with the Great Lakes Regional Nov. 11 at Bowling Green, Ohio, and the 2006 NCAA Championships Nov. 20 back in Terre Haute.

The lone home meet of the season is the Buckeye Invite Sept. 15.