COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s track and field team begins its 2011 outdoor campaign this Saturday, March 26, at the inaugural SEC/Big Ten Shootout in Starkville, Miss.

Saturday’s scored meet, the creation of Mississippi State head coach Al Schmidt, will pit four schools from the Big Ten against four SEC institutions. The Big Ten will be represented by the Buckeyes, Purdue, Illinois and No. 23 Indiana, while No. 10 Auburn, Mississippi State, Mississippi and Georgia will carry the banner for the SEC. Points are awarded to the Top 4 finishers in each event and scored in a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 format – each conference can score a max of four athletes per event.

Action is scheduled to being at approximately 10:30 a.m. ET with competition in the hammer throw. A complete recap will be available after the meet at  

Buckeyes Check-in at No. 37 on USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings
The Ohio State women’s track and field team checks-in at No. 37 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s preseason rankings, released March 21.

In all, four Big Ten teams are ranked among the preseason Top 50, led by 19th-ranked Penn State. The Indiana Hoosiers join Penn State in the Top 25 at No. 23, followed by the Buckeyes and No. 48 Michigan State. Texas A&M is the top-ranked team in the nation, with Oregon and LSU rounding out the Top 3. Future Big Ten member Nebraska is ranked 31st.

Manning, Dennis Honored by USTFCCCA
Ohio State junior All-American Christina Manning and head coach Karen Dennis were honored by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) March 7 for their outstanding accomplishments during the 2010 indoor track and field season.

Manning, one of the nation’s top sprinter/hurdlers, claimed the Great Lakes Regional Track Athlete of the Year award after her record-setting indoor campaign. The Waldorf, Md., native earned Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year honors after winning the 60m hurdles and scoring a pair of second-place finishes in the 60m and 200m dashes at last Sunday’s Big Ten indoor championships, helping the Buckeyes to their first conference title in program history. Entering this weekend’s NCAA championship meet, Manning leads the nation in the 60m hurdles, recording a top time of 8.01 seconds at the conference finals.

Fifth-year head coach Dennis collected the Great Lakes Coach of the Year award for the second year in a row after guiding OSU to its first-ever Big Ten title, along the way mentoring two conference champions, five second-place finishers and 16 Top 5 performers. The growth of the women’s program under Dennis has been remarkable – in the past three seasons, the Buckeyes have improved their standing in the conference by eight places and more than 100 points.

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Head coach Karen Dennis
Karen Dennis was hired as Ohio State’s first women’s track and field and cross country head coach since 1993 in July of 2005. Prior to taking over the OSU women’s helm, Dennis spent four seasons as a sprints and hurdles assistant for both the Buckeye men’s and women’s programs. The Detroit, Mich., native and Michigan State grad returned to the Midwest in 2003 following a 10-year stretch (1992-2002) as head coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and after serving as the head coach of the United States women’s national team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

The women’s track and field and cross country program has made significant strides the past few seasons under Dennis’ tutelage. In 2010, the Buckeyes surprised many throughout the Big Ten and the Midwest with a dazzling second-place finish at the Big Ten indoor championships – its highest indoor finish in nine years – behind outstanding performances by Christina Manning and Shaniqua McGinnis. Manning captured two runner-up titles (200m, 60m) and a Big Ten title in the 60m hurdles while McGinnis pulled the upset of the championships by defeating Penn State All-American Fawn Dorr in the 400m run. Manning would finish the indoor season with a bang, becoming an All-American after a seventh-place finish in the finals of the 60m hurdles at the NCAA indoor championships.

The outdoor season was highlighted by Maggie Mullen’s Big Ten title and All-America finish in the javelin. In all, Dennis’ Buckeyes took home nine All-Big Ten awards during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Additionally, the women’s cross country team made its first NCAA appearance in school history in the fall of 2009.

Dennis has been involved on the national and international track and field scenes for quite some time. She served as the assistant coach of the 1995 World Championships squad in Gotteberg, Sweden. She also coached the U.S. women’s team at the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba and served as an assistant women’s coach at the World University Championships in Duisburg, Germany, in 1989.
Last Time Out
Four members of the women’s track and field team competed at the NCAA indoor championships March 10-11.

Senior Letecia Wright collected First Team All-American honors with a fifth-place finish in the 60m hurdles in a time of 8.10, helping the Buckeyes to four team points.

Junior Maggie Mullen earned second team All-America honors by finishing ninth out of 17 competitors in the weight throw with a toss of 19.41m, which came on her third toss of the night.

Thanks to Wright’s four points in the hurdles, Ohio State tied for 40th-place overall, the eighth-best finish in school history. Oregon won the championship with 67 points.

Up Next
The Buckeyes travel to Tucson, Ariz., next Friday and Saturday, April 1-2, for the Jim Click Shootout.