COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete at the Big Ten Conference championships Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Blue River Cross Country Venue at Blue River Memorial Park in Shelbyville, Ind. The women’s 6K race will start at 12:30 p.m. EST and the men’s 8K race will take place at 2 p.m.
This championships event will be the second Big Ten championship during the COVID-19 pandemic, following the football championship game just over a month ago – Dec. 19 – held at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
The event will also be the first time the cross runners have competed on grass in more than a year. Some Ohio State distance runners have been able to experience two weeks of competition with the indoor track and field teams, which have competed at the Simmons-Harvey Invite in Ann Arbor and at the Penn State Invite the past two weekends, respectively.
The Blue River Cross Country Venue, located southeast of Indianapolis, is not a golf course or multi-purpose facility. It is a cross country course only – and fast – with wide sweeping turns and with a majority of the course visible from the finish area. No fans will be admitted this year, though, with the health, safety and well-being of the competitors, coaching staffs and operations personnel as the main focus of the meet organizers.
Last cross country race
Ohio State hosted the 2019 men’s and women’s Big Ten cross country championships 14 months ago, on November 3, 2019 at the Ohio State University Golf Club. This is the last time any of the Big Ten cross country programs have lined up side-by-side and competed.
Wisconsin won the 2019 Big Ten men’s title with a low score of 56, with Indiana, Michigan and Purdue next and all within 26 places of the Badgers. The Ohio State men were 11th.
Michigan State claimed its fifth Big Ten crown since 2010 on the women’s side with its low score of 56. Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State followed in second through fifth, respectively. Ohio State’s finish was its second-highest ever at the Big Ten meet and a couple weeks later the team capped its finest season in school history by finishing 23rd at the NCAA championships.
Buckeyes with experience
The Ohio State women’s team returns four individuals who ran in the 2019 Big Ten championships, including two – Allie Guagenti, a sophomore eligibility-wise from Powell, Ohio, and Kalee Soehnlen, a senior from Canton – who were a part of that record-setting NCAA championship meet two years ago.
Junior Hannah Moulton and sophomore Gia Napolean also competed at the last Big Ten cross country meet. Both are from nearby Worthington.
The men’s team returns five runners who competed at the 2019 championship meet, including scorers Giovanni Copploe, a sophomore from Canfield, and Peter Hayden, a senior from Bexley. Juniors Michael Zedan (New Baltimore, Mich.), Jake Wickert (Medina) and Jack Good (Hudson) also have championship meet experience.
Ohio State’s men’s team has won one Big Ten championship, in 1923, and finished runner-up eight times, most recently in 2009. The women have finished fourth twice, most recently in 2014, and the team has a total of five Top 5 finishes.
Ohio State coaches
Ohio State’s cross country program is under the direction of head coach Khadevis Robinson and associate head coach Sara Mason Vergote. Robinson, from Fort Worth, Texas, and a graduate of TCU, is in his fourth season at Ohio State.
Mason Vergote is in her ninth year on Ohio State’s staff. She is a graduate of the University of Toledo and is a native of Kalkaska, Mich., near Traverse City.
The NCAA championships
There won’t be an NCAA regional competition for the sport of cross country this year, but there will be an NCAA championships held Monday, March 15, in Stillwater, Okla., and hosted by Oklahoma State University. This year a selection committee will choose the 25 men’s and 25 women’s teams that will compete for the national championship.