COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s track and field team is off to Des Moines, Iowa this Thursday through Saturday, April 28-30, to compete in the Drake Relays on the campus of Drake University.

The 102nd edition of the Drake Relays continues the tradition of what has long been considered one of the United States’ top track and field meets. This year 115 events will be contested between the nation’s best high school, college and professional athletes.

Ohio State Entries
Chesna Sykes – 100m
Madison McNary – 100m
Adenike Pedro – 100m
Letecia Wright – 100m hurdles
Christina Manning – 100m, 100m hurdles
Alana Gray – 100m hurdles, long jump
Nyjah Cousar – 400m hurdles
Molly Jacobson – 3000m steeplechase
Ellen Birmingham – 5000m
Meredith Wagner – 5000m
Tori Brink – 5000m
Ashley Galbraith – high jump
Kelcey McKinney – long jump, triple jump
Norianna Brown – discus throw
Alexis Thomas – hammer throw
4x100m Relay
4x100m Shuttle Hurdle Relay
4x200m Relay
4x400m Relay
1600m Sprint Medley

Birmingham, Wagner and Brink will kick things off for Ohio State with the 5000m run on Thursday at 9:40 p.m. ET “Under the Lights” inside of Drake Stadium.

Scouting the Field
The Drake Relays will allow the Buckeyes to face several Top 25 teams, including No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 11 Arkansas, No. 12 Baylor, No. 13 Auburn, No. 16 Tennessee, No. 18 Nebraska, No. 19 Georgia and No. 25 Kansas State.

The Buckeyes currently sit at No. 35 in the April 26 U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national team rankings. Ohio State improved 12 spots since last week’s rankings.

Three Big Ten schools are nationally ranked in the Top 50, including Ohio State. Indiana is No. 30, Minnesota is No. 32 and Penn State is No. 45. LSU has taken over the top spot in the poll.

Ohio State, however, has reclaimed the top spot in the Great Lakes Region after Indiana was ranked No. 1 last week. Indiana is currently No. 2 while the Buckeyes also sit ahead of Big Ten foes No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 5 Michigan State and No. 6 Purdue.

Buckeyes in the Individual Top 40 Rankings
Eleven members of the Scarlet and Gray are ranked within the Top 40 nationally in several event areas. A look at where the Buckeyes sit:

Letecia Wright – No. 4 in the 100m hurdles, No. 27 in the 4x100m relay and No. 35 in the 4x100m relay
Christina Manning – No. 9 in the 100m hurdles and No. 27 in the 4x100m relay
Ashley Galbraith – No. 11 in the high jump
Maggie Mullen – No. 26 in the javelin
Madison McNary – No. 27 in the 4x100m relay and No. 35 in the 4x100m relay
Chesna Sykes – No. 27 in the 4x100m relay and No. 35 in the 4x100m relay
Alexis Thomas – No. 33 in the hammer throw
Tori Brink – No. 34 in the 3000m steeplechase
Christienne Linton – No. 35 in the 4x100m relay
Kelcey McKinney – No. 37 in the triple jump 
Nyjah Cousar – No. 40 in the 400m hurdles

A Look Back at the 2010 Drake Relays
Last year at the Drake Relays Letecia Wright captured first place in the 100m hurdles. Her time of 13.07 was the fifth-best in NCAA at the time and the top time in the Big Ten.

Wright’s outstanding performance wasn’t the only highlight for the Buckeyes. A day removed from qualifying second in the preliminary round, Latoya Sanderson, Ashley Caldwell, Nyjah Cousar and Shaniqua McGinnis turned in an impressive time of 3:35.43 in the finals of the 4x400m. Despite falling to fourth, the Buckeyes’ posted a then-second-best time in the Big Ten on the season.

The Buckeyes’ 1600m Sprint Medley consisting of Sanderson, Caldwell, McGinnis and Christina Manning shattered the Ohio State school record in the event with a second-place time of 3:51.80.

Wright, Manning, Christienne Linton, and Ashley Galbraith teamed up for a third-place finish in the 100m shuttle hurdle final, crossing the finish line in 54.85. The Buckeyes improved upon their preliminary by nearly four seconds to capture a hard-fought bronze.

Galbraith also finished third in the high jump, clearing the bar at 1.70m (5-7).

Big Ten Champions!
For the first time in school history Ohio State won the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field championship in February. In addition to top honors on the track, fifth-year head coach Karen Dennis was named Big Ten Coach of the Year by her peers and junior All-American Christina Manning was named Big Ten Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Championships.

McNary was also named as a first team all-Big Ten performer. McKinney and Wright were named to the second team. Wright later collected All-American honors for the first time at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships.

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Last Time Out
The Scarlet and Gray last competed in the 26th Jesse Owens Track Classic on their home track in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium where they collected three victories.

All-American Manning led a 1-2-3-4 sweep in the 100m dash to knock off two-time defending Big Ten champion Shavon Greaves of Penn State. Manning posted the fastest time in the Big Ten and the fifth-best time in school history, crossing the finish line in 11.58 to claim first. McNary (11.62), Sykes (11.77) and Linton (11.78) finished in second, third and fourth, respectively.

Shaniqua McGinnis narrowly missed the top spot in the 400m dash where she placed second with a time of 54.10. McNary took second place in the 200m dash (23.72).

The 4x100m relay team of Manning, All-American Wright, McNary and Sykes blew away the field with a mark of 44.52, the second-fastest time in school history.

Leading the Buckeye distance runners was Kelsey McHugh who used a time of 17:01.66 in the 5000m run to finish in fourth.

McKinney used a leap of 12.41m (40-8.75) to claim first in the triple jump. With a mark of 1.75m (5-8.75) Galbraith placed second in the high jump.

Up Next
Ohio State will take some time off to prepare for the Big Ten outdoor championships in Iowa City May 13-15.