April 27, 2006
Columbus, Ohio – In its three decades, the Jesse Owens Track Classic has served as a top venue for many future and former Olympians. Current and past record holders for the Classic include Olympic medalists John Drummond, Michelle Finn, Allen Johnson, Edwin Moses, Dwight Stones and former Buckeyes Diane Dixon, Joe Greene and Butch Reynolds. For the second-consecutive year, the “J.O. Classic” offers a pair of top-flight distance events on both nights of the meet May 5-6 at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Robert Gary, Ohio State cross country head coach and two-time Olympian (1996, 2004) in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, has helped build the stellar distance fields at the Classic and envisions the events to catch momentum and grow each season.
“I aggressively recruited for both the steeplechase and the mile and look forward to building the distance fields every year,” Gary said. “With our beautiful stadium and commitment to supporting distance runners, I hope to have Ohio State and the Jesse Owens Classic become permanent fixtures on the calendars of the best distance runners in the country.”
Gary contributed to perhaps the highlight event of the 2005 Owens Classic, the men’s steeplechase invitational. He was joined by fellow 2004 Olympian Anthony Famiglietti of adidas, who won the 2002 U.S. steeplechase title. In addition, Ohio State was represented by Brian Olinger, who later in 2005 timed the second-fastest American Collegiate mark (8:19) in the steeple at a European meet in July.
Famiglietti won the 2005 steeple in a JOMS record-setting time of 8:20.04 and is back to defend his “J.O. Classic” crown this year. Olinger, who placed fourth (8:33) in the 2005 “J.O.” steeple, also returns and will run in a strong mile field as well. The steeplechase invitational is slated for 8:40 p.m. May 5, while the mile is set for an 8 p.m. start May 6.
In addition to Famiglietti, who held the second-ranked steeple time in the U.S. in 2005, the event welcomes back several more world-class steeplers to JOMS. Gary, David Cheromei (Virginia Intermont), Solomon Kandie, who won the steeple at the Mt. Sac Relays three weeks ago, and Jordan Desiliets, the 2004 NCAA steeple champion who competes with Reebok, all are back to challenge Famiglietti’s 2005 crown.
Newcomers to the Jesse Owens steeple field include Tom Brooks and Tom Chorney. Brooks recently won the Oregon Invitational steeple in 8:32, while Chorney, who runs for Nike, is the 2001 USATF steeple champ.
The mile invitational also features an intriguing combination of Ohio State ties and top-level national runners. Joining the two-time NCAA All-American Olinger is teammate and freshman Jeff See, who claimed the 2005 Nike High School Outdoor Mile National Championship in his senior campaign last year at Middletown (Ohio).
A former Buckeye also will serve as one of the mile favorites. Rob Myers, a two-time All-American for Ohio State from 2001-04, now competes for Reebok while also balancing volunteer coaching duties with Gary on the OSU cross country team. He was ranked No. 3 in the mile among U.S. competitors in 2005 and owns a personal-best time of 3:53.
Team Reebok also is represented in the Jesse Owens mile by Matt Gabrielson, 2006 World Cross Country 12K team member, and Bryan Berryhill, who won the 2001 NCAA championship in the mile. Berryhill also was a member of the 2001 USATF team in the mile and gained a position on the 2003 U.S. World Championships Team.
Ryan Bak and Brad Lowery of Big Sur Distance Project and Virginia Intermont’s Corey Duquette round out the mile field. Bak and Lowery are considered two of America’s best 5K runners and will drop down in distance to compete in the mile. Duquette clocked the fastest mile time at the NAIA level last season.
The 2006 Jesse Owens Track Classic starts at 4 p.m. Friday, May 6. The meet continues Saturday with high school events starting at 10 a.m. and collegiate competitions beginning at 3 p.m.