No. 10 Ohio State Set to Defend Conference Title in Nebraska

Go Buckeyes! Senior Maggie Mullen.
Go Buckeyes!
Senior Maggie Mullen.
Go Buckeyes!

Feb. 22, 2012

Meet Schedule

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The No. 10 Ohio State women's track and field team travels to Lincoln, Neb., this weekend for the 2012 Big Ten Indoor Championships where they will defend their first ever conference title from last season. The Buckeyes have finished in the top two spots for the last two years and this year they are expected to be quite the competition yet again.

"Going into this year's Big Ten indoor championship is very different than what we experienced last year as a team," said head coach Karen Dennis. "Having won the event last year we realize we are no longer a team chasing the champions we are now the team being chased! It's a good position to be in and we realize the tremendous pressure we're under."

Championship Basics
Days: Friday, Feb. 24 (11:50 a.m. - 8:10 p.m. ET) and Saturday, Feb. 25 (Noon - 6:30 p.m. ET)
Venue: Devaney Center Indoor Track - Lincoln, Neb.
Television: The Big Ten Network will televise the meet on tape delay at 1:30 p.m. ET on Mar. 10.
Live Stats: or

 "Our coaches, staff and athletes have worked hard all year to enable us to defend our championship position," said Dennis. "The group of women competing in this year's championship represents our second generation of recruits. They have been here before. They know what it takes to win and they are all excited about this meet. We have our work cut out for us and in order to repeat and we need to find performances that exceed what we've done all year. I believe we're ready."

Top Buckeyes
Christina Manning - Manning has claimed six Athlete of the Week honors this season, winning one each week the Buckeyes have taken to the track. The All-American will be defending her 60m hurdle victory from last season's conference meet. She currently holds the third-best time in the nation for the event this season. Her season-best time of 7.99 is a personal best and an NCAA automatic qualifying time. Manning has also turned in PR times in the 60m dash (7.28) and 200m dash (23.51) this season. Those times also rank her in the top 10 nationally as both times are the eighth fastest within the event in Division I. The Waldorf, Md., native's top times in the 60m dash, 60m hurdles and 200m dash are each ranked as the second-best performance in Ohio State history for each event. The reigning Big Ten Athlete of the Week also holds the top times in the conference for her three events.



Shaniqua McGinnis - The Senior leads the team in the 400m dash and 600m run with times of 54.38 and 1:30.97, respectively. Her 400m dash time is fourth in the Big Ten this season. The Shaker Heights, Ohio native holds the French Field House record and the second-best time in Ohio State history in the 600m run. McGinnis took fourth last season in the 400m dash and is expected to move up in the ranks this year and prove to be a contender in the 600m run.

Kelcey McKinney - The Dayton, Ohio native set a PR of 12.82m (42-0.75) in the triple jump at the Meyo Invitational. Her mark is No. 5 in school history, No. 10 in the nation and No. 2 in the Big Ten behind Michigan State's Tori Franklin. The senior's top long jump performance of 5.94m (19-6) also came at the Meyo Invitational. At last season's Big Ten championships, McKinney claimed the runner-up spot in the triple jump and finished third in the long jump and will be looking to improve on both of those finishes this weekend in Lincoln.

Maggie Mullen - At the Don Kirby Elite Invitational, Mullen had her two best throwing performances of the season. The Ontario, Canada native recorded a mark of 14.26m (46-9.5) in the shot put and a PR of 20.78m (68-2.25) in the weight throw. Last season, the senior placed third in the weight throw at the conference championships and she enters her final Big Ten indoor championships ranked second in the conference behind Taylor Smith from Wisconsin.

Scouting the Big Ten
No. 17 Wisconsin and No. 24 Michigan State join the No. 10 Buckeyes as the three nationally ranked Big Ten teams according to the Feb. 20 rankings by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). In the USTFCCCA's regional rankings, eight of the eleven competing teams are ranked within the top five of their respective regions with Ohio State, Penn State and Nebraska leading their regions. The Scarlet and Gray hold the top spot in the Great Lakes region, the Nittany Lions hold the first-place spot in the Mid-Atlantic region and the Cornhuskers hold the first-place spot in the Midwest region.

Nebraska won the 2011 Big 12 Championship last season as they ended their time in that conference before shifting to the Big Ten. That marked the sixth Big 12 crown for the Cornhuskers who will be hosting their first ever Big Ten championship in their first season as a member of the conference.

Eleven Buckeyes in Individual Top 25 Rankings
Take a look at where members of the team sit within the top 25 in various events:

Key Events
60m Dash - Manning (7.28), Sykes (7.32) and McNary (7.38) own the top 3 times in the Big Ten and will be looking to pull off a sweep of the top 3 spots. Last season McNary and Manning went 1-2 in the race with McNary picking up her first Big Ten title. Penn State's Mahagony Jones has a top time of 7.41 and will be trying to interrupt the Scarlet and Gray contingent.

60m Hurdles - For the last two years, Buckeyes have taken the top two spots in the race. Manning enters with a time of 7.99 to lead the conference and Linton's 8.30 is third in the Big Ten. Evonne Britton (8.20) from Penn State and Illinois' Breanna Coleman (8.32) and Jesica Ejesieme (8.32) will be the top challengers as Manning defends her title and Linton looks to the top spots.

200m Dash - The Scarlet and Gray have a chance to score well in this event. Manning (23.51) holds the Big Ten's top time and teammates Aisha Cavin (23.82) and Sykes (23.94) both have top 6 conference times.  Last season Oho State 17 points in the 200m dash after taking second, third and sixth. Manning, Cavin and Sykes will find their biggest competition from Penn State's Mahagony Jones and Kirsten Nieuwendam and Illinois' Ashley Spencer.

High Jump - Ashley Galbraith will battle against Monika Jakutyte from Wisconsin and Rebecca Buchholtz from Michigan State for the crown. This will be Galbraith's last indoor Big Ten championship meet and she is hoping to improve on last season's fifth-place finish.

Weight Throw - Mullen and Thomas finished third and fifth, respectively, last season at the championships. They head to Lincoln with two of the top five marks in the Big Ten and are prepared to face the competition by giving their best performances to bring home points for the Buckeyes.

Last Season's Big Ten Championship
Ohio State brought home the conference title for the first time in program history! The Buckeyes won with 122.50 points and Penn State followed with 86 points.

Manning captured the conference title in the 60m hurdles and runner-up finishes in the 60m dash and 200m dashes, recording then personal best times in both the hurdles (8.01) and 60m dash (7.29) in the process. After a stellar season and outstanding showing at the Big Ten championships, Manning was named Big Ten Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Championships. She became only the second Buckeye to win Athlete of the Year honors and the third Buckeye to pick up Athlete of the Championship recognition.

Also picking up a conference title was McNary who took first with a new school record of 7.27 in the 60m dash. McNary and Manning pulled the upset on Penn State's Shavon Greaves who was a 12-time Big Ten champion and All-American.

Letecia Wright ran a time of 8.03 in the 60m dash to finish directly behind Manning for second. In the pentathlon Alana Gray placed second after stellar performances. Gray recorded 3,711 points. The top distance performance was turned in by Tori Brink who ran a 2:11.84 for sixth in the 800m run.

With a then PR jump of 12.58m (41-3.25), McKinney racked up eight points with a second place finish in the triple jump. Mullen also won silver when she threw for 20.27m (66-6) in the weight throw.

Head coach Karen Dennis' peers elected her Big Ten Coach of the Year after taking the team all the way to the top of the conference in just her fifth season. Under her guidance at the 2011 Big Ten Championships, Ohio State captured a total of two individual titles, five silver medals and 16 top 5 finishes.

Buckeye History at the Big Ten Championships
After racking up 19 top 5 team finishes in the 32 seasons that the Big Ten held a women's indoor championship, Ohio State finally brought home the highest honor in 2011 with a 36.50 point gap over the three-time defending champion Penn State who finished in second.

Three Buckeyes have taken home the Athlete of the Championship Award. Donica Merriman - one of only two OSU athletes to claim national titles - grabbed the honor in both 2000 and 2001 after winning the 60m hurdles and 200m dash each season. Bridgette Tate received the honor in 1988 after her first-place finishes in the 55m dash, 55m hurdles and 300 yard run. Manning most recently won the honor after dominating the 2011 meet with a win in the 60m hurdles and two runner-up finishes in the 60m dash and 200m dash.

Two Ohio State indoor championship records have been retired, Diane Dixon's 300-yard run in 1983 and Tate's 60-yard sprint in 1987. Merriman still holds the championship record of 7.98 in the 60m hurdles from 2001.

Last Time Out
The team tuned up in front of a hometown crowd at the OSU Tune-Up in preparation for this week's Big Ten meet. Here are some highlights from last weekend:

  • McGinnis broke the French Fieldhouse record in the 600m run after winning the race in 1:30.97.
  • Manning picked up gold medals in the 60m dash and 60m hurdles. In the 60m dash she set a PR of 7.28, the second-best time in school history, and in the 60m hurdles she crossed the line in 8.11.
  • Sykes turned in the third-fastest time in Ohio State history in the 60m dash with a time of 7.32. Finishing a sweep of the top spots for the Buckeyes was McNary (7.38) who finished in third.
  • In the 400m dash, Ohio State swept the top-3 spots. Nyjah Cousar (55.52), Kachay Hullum (55.90) and Jackie Dim (56.20) finished 1-2-3.
  • With a mark of 5.88m (19-3.5), Linton took second in the long jump. She also turned in a PR of 8.30 for third in the 60m hurdles.
  • Mckinney (25.43) and Rachael Mack (25.58) placed second and third, respectively, in the 200m dash.
  • Setting a new PR in the mile was Nicole Hilton (5:02.93) for the win.
  • Crossing the finish line in 3:07.48 was Mary-Katherine Sanders who took second in the 1000m run.
  • Sarah Chilson (10:29.83) ran a PR in the 3000m run for third.
  • Abie Ehimwenman (11.97m/39-3.25) and Ashley Woodruff (11.72m/38-5.5) went 1-2 in the triple jump.
  • After winning the jump off at 1.77m (5-9.75), Galbraith walked away with the victory.
  • Norianna Brown (15.19m/49-10) set a PR to win in the shot put.
  • Taking second in the weight throw was Katie Groseclose (17.13m/56-2.5) with a PR.

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Up Next
The final indoor meet of the season is the NCAA indoor championships in Nampa, Idaho March 9-10.