After running against championship-level competition at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 14, the Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams will run for a championship this Sunday in Illinois.
The Buckeyes will run at the Big Ten Championship meet on Oct. 30 at the University of Illinois.
Both the men and the women are hoping to finish in the top three of a field that features ranked teams on both sides. The No. 2-ranked Wisconsin Badgers and No. 7 Indiana Hoosiers highlight the men’s field while No. 15 Michigan State is the highest-ranked women’s team appearing.
“I think Wisconsin and Indiana are probably a step ahead of the rest of the conference,” said Robert Gary, OSU men’s cross country head coach. “It’s not that they can’t be beat but they’re pretty solid. I think after that, we’re really fighting for third place.”
OSU women’s assistant cross country coach Chris Neal said he felt similarly.
“It’s going to be a hard-fought battle,” Neal said. “I think you could be winning it or you could be seventh. While our goal is top three I think we know it is going to be a tough weekend for us.”
The men will be without one of their top runners, Jake Edwards, a redshirt senior. Edwards injured his hamstring at the Notre Dame Invitational on Sep. 30 and has not been able to compete since.
Gary said that with Edwards out, the key to his team performing well will be running together as a pack. He said if his team can have a 20- to 25-second spread from its first to fifth runner, a third-place finish is possible.
“I mean, obviously it would be a lot easier if Jake was running but someone else is just going to have to step up. We have a number of fifth-year seniors and I’m hoping they’re up to the challenge,” he said.
Getting out fast at the beginning of the race is an important factor for the women, Neal said.
“If we can put ourselves in good position and be where we want to be at the start, we’ll be able to hold it together for the last part of the race,” he said.
Runners on both teams are confident and said they are ready to have their best races of the season.
“I think everything is kind of coming together,” said Jordan Jennewine, OSU women’s redshirt senior. “I think we’re ready to run as well as we can this weekend.”
Donny Roys, OSU men’s junior, feels the men’s team is also set to finish strongly.
“I think we’re right on track to get into the top three. We’re stronger then last year so we’re getting out. I think we’re right on pace right now,” Roys said.
After the Big Ten Championship meet, the men and women will have one week off from competition before running at the Great Lakes Regional meet on Nov. 12.