Columbus, Ohio – Karen Dennis (Men’s Coach of the Year), Joel Brown (Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year), Nick Gray (Men’s Track Athlete of the Year) and Zack Bazile (Men’s Field Athlete of the Year) were announced as the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Great Lakes region honorees on Monday morning in their respective categories.
“These awards just show that we’re a program on the rise,” director of track & field and cross country Karen Dennis said. “For us to sweep all four awards from our region is impressive. This is the culmination of lots of hard work and I’m proud for the program as a whole.”
The award for Dennis makes her the first woman in Great Lakes history to garner the Men’s Coach of the Year honor. Just last week, she became the first woman to be named the Men’s Big Ten Coach of the Year after she led Ohio State to its first indoor conference title since 1993. She coached the Buckeyes to four individual titles and a gold in the 4x400m relay at the conference meet to become the first woman in B1G history to lead a men’s team to a track and field title, and she has the men’s team ranked ninth in the nation heading into this weekend’s NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas.
Bazile becomes the second Ohio State field athlete to earn this award in program history joining the likes of Ohio State Hall of Famer Dan Taylor (2003). A senior from Montvale, N.J., Bazile owns the best long jump in the NCAA in 2018 when he leaped 8.13m (26-8.25) at the Commodore Classic in late January. That mark of 8.13 meters is currently the 15th best in the world for 2018. Bazile was named the Big Ten Field Athlete of the Championships for his performance at the conference meet. He set a Spire Institute record and won gold in the long jump with a bound of 8.04m (26-4.50) and finished fifth in the triple jump to help the Buckeyes claim the conference title.
Gray becomes just the second sprinter in program history to win the Great Lakes Track Athlete of the Year joining the likes of Thomas Murdaugh (2010). A junior out of Pickerington, Ohio, Gray won his third straight indoor 200m dash title, helped the men’s 4x400m relay team to a gold medal in a school record time of 3:05.09 and took third place in the 60m dash finals at the indoor conference meet to account for a total of 18.5 points. Gray’s 200m dash time of 20.45 at the B1G meet broke his own meet record by .13 seconds and is the fastest time to ever be recorded by an Ohio State sprinter on the indoor circuit. Gray will enter the NCAA meet as the No. 2 seed in the 200m dash.
Brown earns the first of many awards of his young coaching career with the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year honor. Brown assisted the Buckeyes by leading his sprinting and hurdling group to score 32 points at the 2018 Big Ten indoor conference meet. He mentored Gray to his aforementioned third straight 200m dash title and he helped the men’s 4x400m relay set the school record at the conference meet. Both Gray and the men’s 4x400m relay squad will be repping the Scarlet and Gray at the NCAA Championships (Feb. 9-10).