Oct. 28, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Championship season begins for the Ohio State men’s cross country team this Sunday, Oct. 30, as it heads to Champaign, Ill., for the 2011 Big Ten Cross Country Championships.

The Buckeyes look to ascend to the top half of the Big Ten standings after a disappointing seventh-place finish at the 2010 championships. The team returns all but one scorer from last season’s meet.

The University of Illinois Arboretum will play host to the 8k event, slated for 12:45 p.m. ET. A complete recap will be posted after the race at  

The Ohio State Buckeyes
Under the direction of 16th-year head coach Robert Gary, Ohio State brings an experienced team to Champaign this weekend.

Junior Donny Roys is enjoying his best season in Columbus to this point, having posted the top team finish at the both the adidas and Notre Dame Invitationals. Roys has represented OSU at two Big Ten championships, with his best run coming in 2009 (37th).

Taylor Williams will be competing in his fourth conference championship with the Buckeyes.  A top 15 finisher in 2009, Williams has struggled with injuries over the past two years but continues to be a reliable runner for the Scarlet and Gray.

Adam Green and Cory Leslie have enjoyed success at the conference championships in the past. Green posted a 20th-place finish at the ’09 championships, while Leslie finished 38th – both competed at last season’s meet as well.

Scouting the Big Ten
Second-ranked Wisconsin, winner of the past 12 Big Ten titles, is the clear favorite for the crown yet again. UW returns four All-Big Ten performers from last season’s championship team, including top 5 scorers Mohammed Ahmed and Elliot Krause.

No. 7 Indiana is the top challenger to the Badgers once again after claiming runner-up honors at last year’s conference meet.  The Hoosiers return three All-Big Ten performers from 2010, led by second-place finisher Andy Bayer.

Two-time Big Ten Athlete of the Year Hassan Mead will make his return to the Big Ten championships for 12th-ranked Minnesota after missing last season due to injury.  The Gophers also return four scorers from 2010.

No. 21 Michigan has returned to top 25 form this season with the help of All-Big Ten athletes Bobby Aprill and Craig Forys. Aprill was seventh at last season’s Big Ten championships, while Forys took 10th overall.
Cross Country on BTN
BTN will air the 2011 Big Ten Cross Country Championships on a tape-delayed basis Friday, Nov. 11, at Noon ET.

Buckeyes Return to National Rankings, Jump to Fourth in Regional Poll
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its national cross country rankings Oct. 18 with Ohio State checking-in at No. 26 in the weekly poll. Defending national champion Oklahoma State is the top-ranked team in the nation, while four Big Ten rivals – No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 7 Indiana, No. 12 Minnesota and No. 21 Michigan – join the Buckeyes in the top 30.

In the Great Lakes regional rankings, Ohio State finds itself ranked No. 4 overall behind the Badgers, Hoosiers and Wolverines.

Ohio State History at the Championships
In its 97 year history, the men’s cross country team has won only one Big Ten title (1923). The Buckeyes have placed among the top 5 41 times, including seven runner-up finishes, two under head coach Robert Gary.

Eight individuals have been named to the all-Big Ten team based on their performances at the conference championships. Current Buckeye volunteer assistant Jeff See was an award-winner in both 2009 and 2007 after third and sixth-place finishes, respectively. Gary was a three-time honoree as a student-athlete at Ohio State.

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Recapping the 2010 Big Ten Championships
Ohio State finished in seventh place at the 2010 Big Ten Cross Country Championships.

With a team point total of 164, the Buckeyes finished well behind champion Wisconsin — the sixth-ranked Badgers placed five runners in the top 12 to capture their 12th-consecutive Big Ten title behind a score of 28. No. 7 Indiana was the runner-up with 75 points.   

Chad Balyo led the Buckeye effort, finishing 19th overall with an 8k PR of 24:11, followed by Jake Edwards, who took 22nd in a PR of 24:18. Roys was 40th in 24:45, while Williams (41st) and Fallon (42nd) turned in identical times of 24:46.

Last Time Out
Fifteen members of the Ohio State men’s cross country team competed at the 5k Eastern Michigan Fall Classic Oct. 21.

Freshman Curtis Hanle turned in a top-10 finish for the second-consecutive meet, finishing fifth in 15:26.08. Fellow freshman Josh Sabo joined Hanle in the first 10, taking seventh in 15:30.53.

Leslie crossed the finish line in 15:35.91 for 12th place, followed by Jeff Hannaford (14th, 15:38.69) and Green (15th, 15:43.19). In all, 10 of the 15 Buckeyes in competition placed among the top-25.

Up Next
The Buckeyes will take a week off before heading to Toledo, Ohio, for the 2011 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships Nov. 12.