Photo courtesy of the Ohio State Athletic Department
The Ohio State men’s and women’s cross-country teams ended their 2011 seasons Monday, and coaches from both teams were happy with the end result.
The men finished 23rd out of 31 teams at the 2011 NCAA National Championships in Terra Haute, Ind. While the women’s team didn’t qualify for the meet, junior Tori Brink and freshman Nicole Hilton qualified individually, and finished 120th and 142nd out of 254 runners, respectively.
OSU men’s coach Robert Gary was happy with his team’s performance, saying, “I’d say in the eight years we’ve qualified for the national meet, that was one of the best, one-to-five performances we’ve ever had.”
The men had a team score of 538, finishing well behind first-place Wisconsin, which won its fifth National Championship.
Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan also represented the Big Ten at the meet, finishing seventh, 16th and 20th, respectively.
Junior Donny Roys led the way for OSU, finishing 95th, covering the 10K course in 30:59. Senior Taylor Williams and junior Julian Meyer were close behind in 100th and 102nd with times of 31:01 and 31:03, respectively.
Rounding out the top five were senior Adam Green in 106th in 31:07 and junior Chris Fallon in 135th in 31:26.
Gary said he was impressed with how his team ran at the meet without a true-No. 1 runner. Redshirt senior Jake Edwards, OSU’s top runner at the beginning of the season, injured his hamstring at the Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 30 and missed the rest of the season.
“I was really impressed for a number of reasons,” Gary said. “We lost our No. 1 early on, and without a low stick it’s pretty tough at this meet. Our fourth and fifth men were in before most teams’ (fourth and fifth runners).”
The Buckeyes qualified for the meet as an at-large selection after finishing fifth at the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals on Nov. 12.
“There’s 31 teams that qualify out of 306 so to start, just making it is great for us,” Gary said. “We were ranked 28th coming in, so we beat five teams that theoretically we weren’t supposed to beat.”
The National Championship appearance was the third in five years for the OSU men. The Buckeyes finished 21st in 2009 and tied for 30th in 2007.
OSU women’s assistant coach Chris Neal said he was pleased with the performances of Brink and Hilton as well.
Brink finished 120th, covering the 6K course in 21:12. Hilton had a time of 21:21 and finished 142nd.
“I thought, especially with (Hilton), it being her first National Championship, and (Brink) being back for the first time in two years, I thought they both ran pretty well,” Neal said.
Georgetown won the women’s National Championship with a team score of 162.
Both coaches said they will look back on the 2011 season as a success, and that their programs are in good shape for the future.
“I liked how we ran as a real pack and knew the importance of it,” Gary said. “I think (this season) will really set these guys up for next year as well.”
“(This season) is the third year in a row that we’ve had a presence at the national meet,” Neal said. “We have a real strong front pack returning.”