May. 3, 2005
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 20th running of the Jesse Owens Track Classic May 6-7 at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium will showcase perhaps its finest distance field in the two-decade existence of the event. In past seasons, distance greats like two-time Olympian and Buckeye standout Mark Croghan, Olympian and U.S. Champion Tim Broe and 2004 Olympian Alan Webb have turned in top marks at the meet. This year, the “Jesse” features several former U.S. Olympians, Team USA world championship members and current collegiate champions at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday in the 3,000-meter steeplechase events and at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the men’s mile run.
“I am very excited to have such a great field in the three races,” Robert Gary, a former Buckeye and two-time Olympian in 1996 and 2004, said. “In honoring the greatest U.S. Olympian and former Buckeye Jesse Owens, I envision this meet becoming a marquee event to post NCAA, USATF and Olympic qualifying times.”
At 10 p.m. Friday, Gary, in his eighth season as Ohio State cross country head coach and distance coach, will help light up the track in the steeplechase. The 1996 OSU grad will be joined by fellow 2004 Olympian Anthony Famiglietti of adidas, who won the 2002 U.S. steeplechase title. Also in the steeple field are Jordan Desiliets, the 2004 NCAA steeple champion who competes with Reebok, Isiah Fiesta from Nike, who placed fourth at the U.S. trials last July, and a pair of winners at the 2005 Mt. SAC Relays in April in Solomon Kandie and David Cheromei.
In addition, Ohio State senior Brian Olinger, who is redshirting the 2005 outdoor season, will run in the steeple as an unattached competitor. Olinger won the 2004 Big Ten Championship in the 5,000-meter run. Rounding out the steeple field is Corey Norwitze of Eastern Michigan and Mike Hicks of Colorado State. Norwitze recently bested the steeple field at the 2005 Sea Ray Relays and Hicks turned in a Top 4 standing in the steeple at Mt. SAC. Earlier Friday, the women will run in the steeple at 8 p.m. The field is highlighted by American record holder Briana Shook of Nike. The 2003 U.S. Outdoor Steeple Champion established her American record of 9:29.32 August 31, 2004. Ohio State steeple record holder Melanie Price also will run in the event. Price has set the OSU record on two occasions this season. Most recently, she clocked a NCAA Mideast regional-qualifier time of 10:46.55 at the Hillsdale Distance Carnival last week.
At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 11 talented milers take the track. A pair of current Buckeyes and one former OSU standout will step on their home track for the event. Rob Myers, who completed an All-American senior season last year for the Buckeyes, will run in the field. Myers placed third at the U.S. Olympic Trials last July and owns a personal-best time of 3:53 in the mile. He will be joined by former OSU teammates Aaron Fisher and Jacob McCauley. Fisher has pocketed two Big Ten outdoor titles in his career. Last season, he won the steeplechase and in 2002 he claimed the league crown in the 5,000 meters. Fisher was an All-American last year.
Joining the trio of Buckeyes is Grant Robinson, the 2003 NCAA Champion in the mile. A Reebok teammate with Myers, Robinson made the 2004 U.S. Olympic team in the event. Fellow Reebok member, Bryan Berryhill, will run alongside his teammates. He won a spot on the 2003 U.S. World Championships Team.
The mile field also includes former All-Americans Moise Joseph of World Extreme Athletic Club and Thomas Morgan and Hunter Spencer of the Indianapolis Invaders. David Freeman, who also runs for WEAC, will vie for the Jesse Owens championship, as will Ray Weeden of the New York Athletic Club. Mid-American Conference champion Ofer Barniv of Kent State rounds out the 11 runners.
Gary envisions the group of decorated runners to increase from season-to-season as the Jesse Owens Track Classic ventures into its third decade.
“With the beautiful Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, the support of our administration, the Ohio High School Athletics Association, and the contacts I have made throughout my running and coaching careers, we are trying to establish the Jesse Owens Track Classic as a comparable alternative to traveling to the west coast for great competition in distance running,” Gary concluded.