Head coach Karen Dennis previews the 2010 Ohio State women’s track and field team. The Buckeyes open the 2010 season inside newly renovated French Fieldhouse Saturday, January 9 when they host the Buckeye Classic.

You lose Ayrizanna Favours, who was undoubtedly the leader of team. Who will step up and take her place?

Loosing Ayrizanna is of course going to affect our efforts in the sprints area. However, we have some returning individuals who should step up, such as Letecia Wright and Christina Manning. We also recruited some help in the sprint area in Nyjah Cousar. We’re proud of what AZ brought to the program, but even more proud that she became the first college graduate in her family and graduated within a four year period. Our leadership shouldn’t be adversely affected because we have some pretty strong leadership in several students, like Alana Gray, Letecia Wright and Sarah Foster.

Your distance runners, especially Jordan Jennewine, Sarah Foster and Emily Thompson, showed tremendous improvement last season nad during the 2009 cross country season. What do you expect from them this year?

Coach Neal did a nice job with our distance girls last season. It’s unfortunate that Emily was injured most of the year because she was showing wonderful progress. I think the improvements in Sarah and Jordan should be even stronger this upcoming season. Both women are more mature in every way and should continue to be point getters for us this year. I think collectively our distance group will add to the strength and improvement of our program.

Maggie Mullen had an outstanding freshman year, breaking the school record in the javelin. How important is it to continue to develop athletes in field events?

Maggie is going to surprise some people in some of the other throwing events other than the javelin. We will never get to our ultimate
goal of being a Big Ten championship team without the support and success of our field event group. Any team that is capable of winning is doing so with a balanced group in all areas of the team — distance, sprints, hurdles, and field events. We have to get some points out of the field event group to move the entire team up in the conference.

Are there any newcomers you foresee making an immediate impact this coming season?

I think several of the women coming in, Nyjah Cousar, Christienne Linton, Alexis Thomas and Skyler Wallen will immediately impact our team and the conference. I also think the freshmen we brought in last year will show enough improvement to score for us this year as sophomores. We have a lot of talent on this team; we just have to put the points on the board.

You broke in two new assistant coaches last season – what strengths did they bring to Ohio State?

Both coach Neal and coach Rosalind Joseph bring strong expertise in their respective areas. They motivate well and are going to be fine head coaches. The biggest asset they provide me is the work ethic and commitment they bring to the program. I’m really happy they joined our team.

What should fans expect out of the Buckeyes this year?

Fans should expect a better team, better results, and a higher level of performance. We have talent, outstanding facilities and good
coaches. We just have to BELIEVE and make it happen.

Saturday’s meet gets underway at 10:00 a.m. ET with competition in the men’s and women’s weight throw.