COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s and women’s track and field teams will open their respective 2021 indoor seasons tomorrow at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational, hosted by the University of Michigan at its UM Indoor Track Building. Ohio State will join four other teams in the day-long meet: Michigan, Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue.
The men’s competition will run from 10 a.m. until approximately 1:30 p.m. while the women’s meet will take place from 3:30 p.m. until approximately 6:30 p.m.
Head coach Karen Dennis
One of the most respected names in the track and field community, Karen Dennis is in her seventh season as director of track & field and cross country at Ohio State and is in her 18th season overall in Columbus. Dennis spent eight seasons (2006-2014) as the Ohio State women’s track and field/cross country head coach and was an assistant track coach for four seasons (2003-2006) prior to her appointment as program director for both the men’s and women’s programs.
Dennis, who was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Coaches Hall of Fame in 2018 and who is also in the Michigan State (2019) and Ohio State (2020) Athletics Halls of Fame, has Ohio State positioned as one of the top programs in the Big Ten Conference and nationally. Dennis’ Buckeyes have captured nine Big Ten titles, including women’s indoor (2011, 2015, 2019, 2020) and outdoor (2011, 2012, 2019) crowns as well as men’s indoor and outdoor championships in 2018, the programs first in 25 years.
Dennis has been honored as the Big Ten’s track and field coach of the year 10 times, including five honors in the last three years with the 2020 women’s indoor coach of the year honor her most recent.
Last Year …
Ohio State’s women won the Big Ten indoor championship for the second consecutive year and for the third time in the past six years. The team was on site at the NCAA indoor championships in Albuquerque, N.M., when the pandemic stopped our lives as we knew it in its tracks. The meet tomorrow will be the first competition for the track and field teams since the Big Ten championships, in March. The men’s team finished fifth at the Big Ten championships, held at the SPIRE Institute, in Geneva, Ohio.
Battle tested and more
Expect Ohio State to make a serious run at yet another women’s Big Ten indoor championship this year, as the team returns track athlete of the year and championships Anavia Battle, a senior from Inkster, Mich., who raced to wins in the 60- and 200-meter dashes last year. Also returning is 60-meter hurdles champion Emma Nwofor, a graduate student from London, England. Nwofor was also second in the high jump and third in the pentathlon.
Devine Parker, a junior from Freeport, Bahamas, was second in both the 60- and 200-meter dashes last year. Morgan Lewis, a senior from Atlanta, was third in the 60-meter hurdles while Aziza Ayoub, a senior from Plain City, Ohio, was fourth in the 800-meter run. Alexus Pyles, a senior from Clarksburg, Md., scored individually in both the 60-meter hurdles and the pentathlon, taking seventh in each event.
The men’s team will be led by its handful of talented sprinters. Senior Tyler Johnson, from Dayton, was runner-up at last year’s Big Ten championships in both the 200- and 400-meter dashes while Eric Harrison, a senior from Washington, D.C., scored in both the 60- and 200-meter dashes with fifth-place performances.
Donnie James (sixth) and Andre Jeff (eighth) gives Ohio State four returning scorers at 200-meters. James is a junior from Detroit while Jeff is a senior from Savannah, Ga. Clarence Foote-Talley, a sophomore from Germantown, Md., was the runner-up last year in the triple jump.