Championship race set for Nov. 21
Seniors Jordan Jennewine and Sarah Lowe get ready for their last Big Ten meet
Buckeyes head to Wisconsin for toughest meet so far
Chris Neal is in his fourth season as the distance coach at Ohio State. Hired in July 2008, Neal works closely with the Buckeye distance runners and cross country team.
The Buckeye distance program has grown by leaps and bounds in Coach Neal's four seasons at the helm. The 2010 season witnessed a sixth-place finish by the Buckeyes - the highest by an OSU squad since 1988 - and individual NCAA championship appearances by Meredith Wagner and Ellen Birmingham. In 2009, Neal and the women's cross country team made history with a thrilling second-place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes regional championships to earn the first NCAA championship appearance in school history, an 11-spot improvement from the squads' placement at the 2008 meet.
Ohio State's progress in the distance events has extended onto the track as well. Despite a number of injuries in 2011, Neal helped Birmingham qualify for the NCAA East Preliminaries in the 10000m run. Additionally, Neal coached Tori Brink to the OSU school record in the 3000m steeplechase. In 2010, three Buckeyes -- Sarah Lowe, Katie Williams and Sarah Foster -- qualified for the NCAA regional championships in the 10000m.
Records fell throughout the 2009 campaign, Neal's first in Columbus. Jordan Jennewine broke the school record in the 1500m at the Big Ten outdoor championships, while also inserting her name into the OSU record books in the 800m (indoor), one-mile run (indoor) and 5000m run (outdoor).
Prior to his arrival in Columbus, Neal spent a total of four years coaching track and field and cross country in the New Orleans area, first as an assistant coach at the University of New Orleans and then as an assistant at Tulane. During his time at Tulane from 2006-08, Neal coached his runners to an eighth-place team finish at the 2007 NCAA Mideast Regional Championships and a ninth-place finish at the 2007 South Central Regional Cross Country Championships , the first top 10 finish in school history. Neal's 2007 cross country team won three meets, and took sixth at the Conference USA championships in addition to its historic efforts at the regional finals. As assistant with the New Orleans Privateers, he coached the Sun Belt Conference cross country individual champion, four track and field individual champions and 10 all-conference performers.
Before making the trip south to New Orleans, Neal spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. At BSU, Neal worked with an NCAA national cross country championship qualifier, an outdoor track and field championships qualifier, and four conference champions. He also coached seven Mid-American Conference individual champions and the runner-up cross country team.
Coach Neal earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Eastern Kentucky University in 2003, and his master's degree in sports administration from Ball State University in 2005. Neal lettered in cross country at EKU, where he helped the Colonels to the Ohio Valley Conference cross country championship. He is also USATF Level II certified in both the endurance and jumping events.
Chris and his wife, Carissa, a volunteer assistant with the Buckeyes, reside in Columbus.