Jan. 4, 2001

This Weekend
The Ohio State track team will play host to the Ohio State Invitational. The invitational will feature Morehouse, Coppin State and Kentucky State. Field events will begin at 9 a.m. and running events will start at 11:30 a.m.

Renewed Confidence
The return of three individual Big Ten Champions brings renewed confidence to the Ohio State track and field coaching staff for the 2001 indoor season.

Last season, All -Big Ten and All-American performers were produced in both the men’s and women’s camps .

Andrew Pierce (Sr.,Yellow Springs,Ohio/Yellow Springs) and Ian Connor (Sr., Lexington,Ohio/Northmor) paced the men’s squad, Pierce, claimed his second consecutive indoor medal in 400-meter dash (46.46) while Connor claimed his first such medal in the 3,000 (8:12.95) Both represented the Buckeyes in the NCAA Indoor Championships, with Pierce posting a second-place, All American finish in the 400.

Donica Merriman (Sr., Trotwood,Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) guided the women’s team to a sixth-place finish the 2000 Big Ten Championships, just two points shy of a fourth-place finish. Merriman claimed the 60-meter hurdles (8.19) for the second consecutive year and won the 200-meter dash to earn 2000 Big Ten and Ohio State Female Athlete of the Year.

A Fresh Look
Ohio State added seven key freshmen to the roster this year. Dalanda Jackson, Alexis McCall, Brooke Patterson, Nosa Ehimwenman, Billy Mills, Dan Taylor and Brad Hart will add depth to the team.

Jackson (Fr., Shaker Heights,Ohio), holds the Ohio High School Athletic Association record for the 100-meter hurdles and is an excellent quarter hurdler.

McCall (Fr., Elyria,Ohio) is expected to an immediate impact in women’s field events. She won 1999 State Champion in the shot put and placed fourth in the state in the discus.

As the 1999 Central District Female Athlete of the Year, she placed fourth at the OHSAA Cross Country Championships. Patterson (Fr.,Lancaster,Ohio/Lancaster) will contribute to the distance squad. Ehimwenman ( Fr., Homewood,Ill) was named All-State, Conference Champion in the long jump and the triple jump. He will add depth to the men’s field events.

Mills (Fr., Copley, Ohio) was the state champion in the long jump. He also was named 2000 All-American in track and field and participated in the 2000 Junior Nationals.

Hart (Fr., Erie, Pa/Cathedral Prep) captured the state title in the high jump and was district champion in both long jump and high jump.

Taylor (Fr., Middlefield,Ohio/Burkeshire) placed fifth at theYouth World Championships in the discus and was recruited by the football staff. He will contribute to the men’s discus and shot put.

High Hopes
After a strong finish to last season , the return of three key seniors and a talented freshmen class, the track squad is looking to be atop the Big Ten standings.

“Iam really optimistic about our chance to equal, if not better, our performances of last season,” Coach Russ Rogers said. “I will again look to Andrew Pierce and Ian Connor on the men’s squad, and Donica Merriman on the women’s squad to anchor their respective squads not only with talent but with their leadership as seniors.”

“If we can stay healthy and aim to raise some performances that came out of last year’s Championships we can make a legitimate run for a top-three finish.” Rogers said.

Meet the Coach
In his 13 years at Ohio State, Russ Rogers has produced 100 Big Ten indoor and outdoor track and field champions, ten NCAA indoor and outdoor champions and 65 All-Americans. His 1993 teams alone produced 16 All-Americans and 12 Big Ten champions in both indoor and outdoor events.

Rogers was recently chosen as the head coach of the national team that participated in the 1999 World Indoor Championships in Macbashi, Japan.

Rogers has more than 30 years of head coaching experience in national and international track and field.

His most recent experience was with the U.S. team at the 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was also the 1988 sprint coach for the U.S. Olympic Team which competed in Seoul, Korea, the 1987 coach of the World University Games team, the 1985-86 head coach of the U.S. track team and has numerous other coaching credentials.

Rogers came to Ohio State from Fairleigh Dickinson University, located in Teaneck, N.J., where he was the head coach for both the men’s and women’s track and field and cross country teams for 10 years.

Looking Ahead
Next week the Buckeyes travel to New York , NY for the New York Invitational on Jan. 13