COLUMBUS, Ohio – What a tremendous, tremendous day it was for the Ohio State men’s and women’s track and field teams at the 2021 Big Ten Conference outdoor championships, held on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill. Wow!
The women, with simply no margin for error, were led Sunday by Anavia Battle, who won the 100 meters, the 200 meters and ran a leg on the victorious 4×100-meter relay team. And everyone else contributed, to give Ohio State 117 team points to win the title with Indiana (109) and Minnesota (106) right behind and way too close for comfort.
The Ohio State men, in 11th at the start of the day, literally blew by five teams on the strength of three individual victories – by Tyler Johnson in the 400, Eric Harrison in the 200 and Nick Miller in the 800 – and a runner-up in the 4×400 to score 60 points on the day and finish fifth with 71 points. Iowa followed its 2021 indoor title with the outdoor crown, scoring 127.5 points.
Big Ten Champions. Back-to-Back Big Ten Champions! pic.twitter.com/Z6CYGrU3vk
— Ohio State T&F/XC (@OhioStateTFXC) May 16, 2021
The Big Ten title is the eighth indoors or outdoors for the Ohio State women’s program and all have come under the direction of director of track and field, Karen Dennis. It also is the second consecutive outdoor title for Ohio State with no championship held last year because of Covid-19, and Ohio State won the 2019 championship. Here’s how the day unfolded.
The throwers combined for nine quick points in the discus as Divine Oladipo took third, Adelaide Aquilla was seventh with a career-best throw (52.78m / 173-2) and Sade Olatoye was eighth. The throwers would contribute 37 points this weekend toward this championship with Aquilla and Olatoye smashing Big Ten championship records in winning the shot and hammer, respectively, earlier in the meet.
Ohio State’s quartet then won the 4×100 relay with Yanique Dayle, Battle, Sierra Fletcher and Alyssa Marsh easing to the win in 44.36.
Emma Nwofor, who scored eight points as the heptathlon runner-up, added six more points to the team total by taking third in the 100 hurdles in a personal best time of 13.24.
Bryannia Murphy then scoffed at her No. 9 seed in the 400 final by finishing fourth in a personal best time of 53.21.
The next two races featuring Buckeyes were just that: all Buckeyes. Battle, the class of the conference sprinters for the last four years, first won the 100 in 11.35 with Dayle taking second in a personal best of 11.47. Ohio State had a five-point lead at this point of the meet.
And then Battle ripped through one of the fastest 200s in the nation, winning in 22.54, which tied her own school record. Dayle was right there with Battle, in third in 23.18.
Meanwhile, Sarah Stanley delivered a huge five points by taking fourth in the javelin with a personal best throw of 50.0m / 164-0. And freshman Addie Engel took eighth in the 5,000 for another point.
Entering the 4×400 relay, Ohio State had 106 points, Minnesota had 96 and Indiana had 87. The Golden Gophers won the relay, scoring 10 points and Indiana inched closer by taking third. Ohio State’s relay of Chanler Robinson, Dayle, Mary Figler and Alyssa Marsh was sixth in 3:36.68 … good for three points.
Eight is enough!
There was one more event left to score at this point. The team wasn’t certain, but the meet was won. That’s because Cierra Pyles had made the finals of the triple jump by travelling farther than she ever had before … by more than a foot, in fact. Her personal best jump of 12.71m / 41-8 ½ was good for eight points because it was second best on this day.
And the Buckeyes were first on this day.
Three men’s victories
Like the women, Ohio State’s men knew they were going to have to perform with heart and soul and determination and effort … entering this meet minus three podium-level-type performers in triple jumper/long jumper Clarence Foote-Talley and high jumper Shaun Miller, both of whom have been out with injuries.
So the Buckeyes performed with heart and soul and determination and effort.
It was nearly 3 p.m. local time and the Buckeyes hadn’t even been in a race yet, but that changed. Quickly.
Tyler Johnson won the 400 meters in 45.37, giving him a sweep of the Big Ten indoor and outdoor 400s, and Donnie James Jr. added points as well with a fifth-place finish in 46.78.
Eric Harrison, Adrian Curry and Kainnan Ramsey gobbled up 11 points in the finals of the 100 meters, finishing third, sixth and seventh, with Curry’s 10.37 a personal best. Harrison was the favorite in the 100 and was unbeaten in the event this year, so it was a disappointing finish for him. He didn’t let it linger, though.
Nick Miller produced, perhaps, the race of the day. The senior came from behind in the last 75 or so meters to win the 800 at the wire in a personal best time of 1:48.62. Do you like goosebumps? This race caused goosebumps on top of goosebumps. The effort was spectacular.
And now back to Harrison. He got his win. In a virtual déjà vu moment, the senior won the 200 meters – in 20.30 – after placing third in the 100 … just like he did as a freshman in 2018. So he was a champion his first year as a Buckeye and now he is a champion in his last year as a Buckeye. And he had to beat the great Tyler Johnson to do it this year. And Johnson merely ran his fastest 200 ever, taking second in a personal best time of 20.57.
James, Harrison, Johnson and Frank Hayes then just missed a 4×400 relay title, finishing second in 3:06.60.