Ohio State has its sites set on competing two more times this season

COLUMBUS, Ohio This weekend the Buckeyes will head to West Lafayette, Ind., to compete in the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Great Lakes Regional, attempting to advance to the NCAA Championships for the seventh time since 2000 and the 12th time in program history.

But it will be a difficult task for the Buckeyes, who are coming off an eighth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships Nov. 2 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“We were obviously disappointed with our Big Ten performance, but we are extremely focused towards figuring out a way to beat some teams and earn a berth to the NCAA Championships,” Ohio State coach Robert Gary said. “Training and focus have gone extremely well, and I am hoping we just miss-timed things at conference. We are going to need the best race of the year from all seven guys.”

A change in the distance of the race could bring about a change in luck that Ohio State is looking for, as the 10K race that the men will compete in is longer than the normal collegiate 8K races. The men will have their shot at the regions best when the gun goes off at 11:45 a.m. at the Purdue Varsity Cross Country Course.

Redshirt freshman Taylor Williams and the Buckeyes will look to put together their best race of the year this weekend in order to finish within the Top 2 and earn an automatic bid back to Terre Haute, Ind. The Top 2 teams in all nine regions qualify to run for the national championship Monday, Nov. 24.

The Buckeyes can still place high at the regional meet and make to it the NCAA Championships because 13 teams earn at at-large bids to compete amongst the nation’s best cross-country teams and runners. The Top 4 individuals on teams that miss making the cut to the national meet also qualify to compete at the NCAA Championships.

Last year at the NCAA Regional Championships, John Ealy made it four-consecutive berths to national championship meet with a time of 30:52 to finish sixth overall. Jeff See, who will be back to compete in 2009 after redshirting this year, finished 16th overall for Ohio State in 31:18. The Buckeyes tied for 30th place at the national championships last season.