COLUMBUS, Ohio – Letecia Wright, Christina Manning and Shaniqua McGinnis will carry the Buckeye banner this weekend as they represent the Buckeyes at the 2010 NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

It will be the second trip to the NCAA championships for Wright and McGinnis and the first for Manning – Wright finished 16th in the 100m hurdles at the 2009 NCAA outdoor championship, while McGinnis anchored Ohio State’s 4x400m relay team to an 11th-place finish during the outdoor campaign. Ohio State’s three individual qualifiers are the most for the women’s squad since the 2006 season.

Championship Basics
Days: Friday, March 12 (11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. ET) and Saturday, March 13 (11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.)
Venue: Randal Tyson Track Center – University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, Ark.
Live Streaming and Stats:  

Scouting the Field
60m hurdles – Virginia Tech senior Queen Quedith Harrison, a 2008 Olympian in the 400m, is the top seed headed into the championships after posting an NCAA-best time of 7.94 during the regular season. Texas A&M All-American Gabby Mayo (8.05) is the second seed, while junior teammate Natasha Ruddock (8.06) is third. Tech’s Kristi Castlin (8.08) comes in No. 4 after finishing third at the 2009 indoor championships. Buckeyes Wright (8.19) and Manning (8.23) come in at ninth and 10th, respectively.

200m dash – The top qualifier is Penn State All-American Shavon Greaves, who ran the top DI time in the country this season at the Big Ten championships (22.98), where she edged the No. 13 seed Manning (23.56). 2009 200m outdoor champion and indoor runner-up Porscha Lucas of Texas A&M is seeded second, while Auburn junior Sheniqua Ferguson is third (23.14).

400m dash – Texas A&M junior All-American Jessica Beard, the 2009 runner-up and an Ohio native, is the favorite to win the title. Her season-best time of 51.15 is more than a second better than 2nd-seeded Shelise Williams of Arkansas (52.43), a three-time All-American. Ohio State’s McGinnis, the 2010 Big Ten champion, is seeded third (52.65), while Big Ten runner-up Fawn Dorr is fourth (52.68).

OSU History at the National Championships
The Buckeyes have never won an indoor team championship, but have produced two individual champions in Diane Dixon (400m dash, 1983) and Donica Merriman (60m hurdles, 2001). Twenty-two individuals have produced a total of 26 All-American performances, including current Buckeye Ashley Caldwell (4x400m, 2008) and assistant coach Rosalind Joseph (triple jump, 2004 and 2005). The highest team finish came in 1983, a 10th-place finish under head coach Mamie Rallins.

Dennis Named Great Lakes Coach of the Year by USTFCCCA
Head coach Karen Dennis was named Great Lakes Coach of the Year by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association March 9.

In her fourth year as head coach of the Buckeyes, Dennis has led the women’s program to new heights this season, highlighted by her squad’s second-place finish at the 2010 Big Ten Indoor Championships Feb. 28. Only a year removed from a ninth-place effort at the conference finals, the Buckeyes increased their overall team score by more than 50 points while claiming two individual Big Ten titles.

One of the most respected individuals in her profession, Dennis has been involved on the national and international track and field scenes for more than 30 years. Prior to her stint at Ohio State, Dennis oversaw the women’s program at UNLV for eight years and was the head coach at Michigan State – her Alma Matter – for 11 seasons. She has served as an assistant coach on several World Championship squads and was the head coach for the U.S. Olympic team at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Buckeyes Ink Seven for 2010-2011
Seven talented student-athletes are set to join the Ohio State women’s track and field team for the 2010-2011 school year, head coach Karen Dennis announced March 8. A look at the newest additions to the Buckeye family:

Adenike Pedro // Sprints/Hurdles – Bladensburg, Md. – Elizabeth Seton
Pedro finished third in the long jump last season at the 2009 Nike Outdoor Track & Field Championships. As a senior, Pedro is currently ranked fifth in country in the long jump and is also one of the top rated sprinters in the country in the 55m, 100m and 200m dashes

Chesna Sykes // Sprints/Hurdles – Columbus, Ohio – Bishop Hartley
One of the top ten 100m runners in the country, Sykes is the 2009 OHSAA Division II state champion in both the 100m and 200m dashes. She placed fourth last year at the 2009 USATF World Youth Track and Field Trials and will look to make a quick impact in Columbus.

KaChay Hullum // Sprints/Hurdles – Akron, Ohio – Firestone
A versatile athlete that will be able to cover a wide range of events, Hullum is a two time OHSAA track and field championship qualifier. Ohio State will be look to use Hullum’s talents in everything from the 100m to the 600m. 

Madeline Hurdt // Throws – Boerne, Texas – Boerne
The 2009 Texas state champion in the shot put, Hurdt was also the sixth-place finisher in the discus. Named the 2008 and 2009 Boerne Field Athlete of the Year, Hurdt took home an impressive first-place finish in the shot put at the prestigious Texas Relays this past year.

Meredith Wagner // Distance – Sylvania, Ohio – Northview
Wagner won the 2009 OHSAA Division I cross country championship. She is a two time state qualifier in cross country and 2009 state track qualifier in the 3200m.

Mallory Kreider // Distance – Kingsville, Ohio – Edgewood
Kreider was the 2009 OHSAA Division II indoor and outdoor state champion in the 3200m and is a three-time state qualifier in cross country as well as track and field. 

Angela Williams // Distance – Hudson, Ohio – Hudson
A two-time OHSAA championship qualifier in cross country, Williams is also an accomplished track athlete, having qualified for competition in the 1600m at the 2009 OHSAA DI championships.

Ohio State Cracks National Top 30, Jumps to Second in Great Lakes Region
Ohio State sits at No. 29 in the March 8 NCAA Division I National Team Rankings by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, the highest team ranking in several seasons.

A week after finishing second at the Big Ten championships, the Buckeyes were rewarded with a 40-spot jump in the March 1 rankings – OSU’s ranking in this week’s poll remains unchanged from the March 1 edition. No. 8 Penn State remains the top-ranked team in the conference, followed by No. 23 Indiana and the Buckeyes.

The Scarlet and Gray jumped to second-place in the Great Lakes regional rankings behind Indiana. The regional rankings – a new concept for the 2010 season – are designed to measure a team’s overall depth, whereas the national poll places greater emphasis on national championship contenders on a team’s roster. The Hoosiers 344.78 points put them well ahead of the Buckeyes (291.21), who are followed in the rankings by Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana State.

Last Time Out
Senior Katie Williams represented the Ohio State women’s track and field team at Notre Dame’s Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind., March 6.

The lone Buckeye competing at the “Last Chance” meet, Williams gave a valiant effort against a competitive field, finishing 10th in the mile in 4:47.97, the second-best indoor time in school history and a second off of an NCAA provisional qualifying time.

Up Next
Ohio State will take a week off before traveling to Raleigh, N.C., for the Raleigh Relays March 26-27, the first outdoor meet of the year.