COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State men’s track and field team heads to Auburn, Ala. this weekend, April 3 and 4, for the Tiger Track Classic.

The majority of the squad will be in action after six Buckeyes competed last weekend at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival.

Coming off of a fourth-place finish at the 2009 Big Ten Indoor Championships, Ohio State will look to finish even higher this May when the best of the conference invade Columbus for the outdoor championships. Starting fast will be crucial toward that goal.

The Scarlet and Gray should be bolstered this spring by the return of All-American Jeff See, after the senior sat out for most of the indoor campaign. See was an All-American last outdoor season in the 1,500-meter run with his fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. He qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials with a time of 3:40.86 at the Jesse Owens Track Classic. See, ranked fifth in the 1500m, will not compete this weekend.

Freshman Thomas Murdaugh hopes to continue a torrid start to his freshman year at Ohio State. Murdaugh was the lone NCAA qualifier for the Buckeyes during the outdoor season, finishing 10th in the 400m preliminary heats with a time of 47.16. The Dublin, Ohio native held the third-best time in the Big Ten Conference and finished second at the 2009 Big Ten Indoor Championships in the 400m.

Matt Comer, Stephen Robinson, Brandon Woodard and Chimdi Chekwa will continue to make the Buckeyes a threat in the sprints. Comer finished second at the conference championships in the 200m. Robinson and Woodard took third in the 200m and 600m, respectively, while Chekwa burst on to the scene late in the indoor season in the 60m dash.

In the field, Patrick Whalen, Matt DeChant, Max Mays and Tyler Branch were the steadiest contributors for Ohio State throughout the indoor season. Whalen, ranked No. 20 in the shot put, placed third in the shot at the Big Ten Championships, while DeChant claimed third in the weight throw.

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Scouting the Field
The Buckeyes will be challenged by three top Top 25 squads this weekend in No. 6 Kentucky, No. 12 Georgia and No. 14 South Carolina. Host Auburn will also be in the mix, along with Big Ten rivals Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan. Three preseason No. 1 ranked athletes will be in action, Georgia’s Justin Gamon and Chris Hill in the 400m hurdles and javelin and Jason Richardson of South Carolina in the 110m hurdles. Ohio State is No. 60 in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Association preseason rankings.

Ealy Has it Easy in San Francisco
John Ealy, a senior out of Reynoldsburg, Ohio set a regional qualifying mark in the 5000m run Friday, March 27 in San Francisco, Calif., claiming first amongst a field of 74 runners. The time of 14:09.41 was his second-best recorded run as a Buckeye, just behind to his time of 14.07.72 set at the Hillsdale Gina Relays in April 2007. The mark was also the sixth-best in school history and the top recorded time in the Big Ten this outdoor season.

Last Time Out
Ealy’s victory in the 5000m highlighted the Buckeyes’ March 27 competition at San Francisco State. Freshman Cory Leslie finished second in the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 9.12.63, his first collegiate run in the event. 

Chad Balyo and Taylor Williams finished behind Ealy in the 5000m in seventh and 12th in 14:34.83 and 14:40.41, respectively. Taking fourth and fifth in the steeple were sophomores Adam Green and Christopher Olinger. Green finished with a time of 9:17.23, while Olinger completed his run in 9:20.08.

Up Next
Ohio State will compete April 8 and 9 at the Sea Ray Relays in Knoxville, Tenn. before hosting rival Michigan in the outdoor “Dual” April 11 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes defeated the Wolverines 85-77 at the indoor meet Jan. 17 in Ann Arbor.