May 23, 2017
Columbus, Ohio – The contract of Karen Dennis, the director of cross country and track and field at Ohio State, has been extended through the 2021 season, TJ Shelton, associate athletics director for sports administration, announced on Tuesday.
“I’m extremely excited to announce the extension of Coach Dennis’ contract through 2021,” Shelton said. “Karen and her staff continue to do a remarkable job leading our men’s and women’s programs. Under her leadership, the program has continually grown achieving academic excellence, being competitive on the national stage, and staying heavily involved in community relations. I’m looking forward to the continued success under the direction of Coach Dennis.”
Dennis, in her 15th year overall in Columbus and third year as director of both women’s and men’s programs, has been at the helm for all four women’s Big Ten titles in program history. She led the Buckeye women to back-to-back B1G outdoor titles in 2011 and 2012 and she constructed two championship B1G indoor teams in 2011 and 2015.
“I appreciate the confidence my administrators Gene Smith (Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director) and TJ Shelton have in me by offering this multi-year contract extension,” Dennis mentioned. “The extension gives me the security necessary to recruit prospective student-athletes to both our men’s and women’s programs to adequately sustain a winning culture indicative of Buckeye Nation.
“It’s gratifying to me and my staff to have the necessary support to succeed in a highly competitive track and field/cross country culture. I’m looking forward to our continued success with renewed enthusiasm. Ohio State is truly a special place…it is extremely motivating to get to work with people you respect and admire on a daily basis, it pushes you to be better a better coach, mentor, and person.”
In 2017, the Buckeyes have excelled as a program. The women earned a bronze showing at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, and the men placed second at the outdoor conference meet, their highest placing since 2009. The women’s cross country team narrowly missed out on a bid to the NCAA Championships last fall with a sixth-place finish at the Great Lakes Regional; it would have been the third bid in program history and second within the last three years.
In 2017 alone, 10 school records have been broken. Excluding those 10 school records, 28 additional top-five marks in program history have been registered. Five of the school records came about during indoors, three of which were recorded at the Big Ten indoor meet. The other five have come during the outdoor slate including three at the Big Ten outdoor championships on May 12-14.
Dennis has the men and women ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Great Lakes Region entering the NCAA East Preliminaries. Twenty-eight individual Buckeyes will don the Scarlet and Gray with hopes of advancing to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., in mid-June.
Aside from getting it done on the track, the Buckeyes have been working diligently in the classroom and the community. Fifty-five athletes from cross country and track and field were named Ohio State Scholar-Athletes during the 2016-17 school year, and 18 members of the cross country team earned All-Big Ten Academic status. The academic awards for track and field will be announced later this month.
The track and field program partnered with the Ohio State University Black Alumni Society (OSUBAS) at this year’s Jesse Owens Track and Field Classic in efforts to collect hygiene products for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. In addition to the hygiene product drive, the Buckeyes regularly send student-athletes to participate with the 2nd & 7 Foundation to read books with elementary students throughout Columbus.