Murdaugh places second in 400m; Comer takes runner-up in 200m

COLUMBUS, Ohio Fueled by a victory in the 4x400m relay, the Ohio State men’s track and field team took fourth place Sunday at the 2009 Big Ten Indoor Championships with a score of 77.50, finishing a half point behind third place Penn State. Minnesota took home the title with 135 points.

The 4×400 team of Brandon Woodard, Matt Comer, Stephen Robinson and Thomas Murdaugh defended Ohio State’s 2008 triumph in the same event with an NCAA provisional time of 3:08.73, the top time in the Big Ten on the year. Illinois, the team that held the previous conference best time, finished second, almost three seconds behind the Buckeyes.

“We had a great day,” Ohio State head coach Robert Gary said at the conclusion of the competition. “Our sprinters really led the way along with a couple field of our field event guys. Ending the meet by defending the 4×400 title was awesome.”

Thomas Murdaugh was among those sprinters sparking the Buckeye effort Sunday. The freshman from Dublin, Ohio placed second in the 400m dash finals in an NCAA provisional time of 46.67.  Gakologelwang Masheto, a senior from Illinois, bested the young phenom by .13 seconds. Matt Comer took eighth with a time of 48.87.

Comer capped his final Big Ten indoor championship in style, finishing second in the 200m dash with an NCAA provisional and personal best time of 21.23 after taking eighth in the 400m and contributing to the Ohio State victory in the 4x400m.

Junior Stephen Robinson finished just behind Comer in third with a personal record time of 21.32, while Curtis Leuenberger took seventh in 21.68. Robinson had a solid afternoon for the Buckeyes; prior to his third place finish in the 200m, the junior took fourth in the 60m dash in 6.83 seconds, just ahead of teammate Chimdi Chekwa, who placed fifth in 6.84.

The 600m dash saw a third place finish from Buckeye junior Brandon Woodard, who set a personal record with his run of 1:17.90. Daniel White, one of the top up-and-coming middle distance runners in the country, placed fourth in the finals of the 800m in 1:51.78.

In the field, Matt DeChant followed up his sixth place effort in the shot put with a fifth place finish in the weight throw. His toss of 19.41m was a career best.

The Buckeyes will compete next weekend at Notre Dame’s Alex Wilson Invitational, the final indoor meet of the year. The outdoor season begins Mar. 28 at the Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. Ohio State will host the 2009 Big Ten Outdoor Championships May 15-17 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

“We will need the same kind of effort that we had today if we are going to make a run at winning the Big Ten outdoor title in the spring,” Gary said. “We will need all the event areas to be ready to go.”

Final Standings

1) Minnesota — 135  
2) Michigan — 93  
3) Penn State — 78  
4) Ohio State — 77.50
5) Wisconsin — 69  
6) Indiana — 61  
7) Illinois — 55  
8) Mich. State — 49  
9) Iowa — 43  
10) Purdue — 41.50