OSU men finish seventh women sixth at Big Ten Championships

The Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to the University of Wisconsin’s Thomas Zimmer Championship Course this weekend for the 2010 Big Ten Championships. The results for both teams and their outlook for the remainder of the “championship season” portion of their schedules stand in stark contrast. Despite falling to the newly crowned Big Ten Champion Michigan State Spartans, a determined Buckeye women’s team scrapped for 162 points, which was good enough for sixth place in the conference. The Buckeye women placed two runners in the top 20, with senior Ellen Birmingham taking 10th overall with a time of 20:38:2 and freshman Meredith Wagner finishing 16th in 20:48.9. Birmingham’s effort earned her All-Big Ten Second Team honors and praise from OSU assistant coach Chris Neal. “Ellen’s effort today was the best individual [women’s cross-country] performance in the last 20 years at Ohio State,” Neal said. “The team as a whole ran very tough today.” Rounding out the scoring for the Buckeye ladies were sophomores Molly Jacobson and Tori Brink, and senior Sarah Foster, who covered the course in 21:20.6, 21:22.7, and 21:44.2 respectively. “We’re getting healthier every week, we’re running better every week,” Neil said, anticipating the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships. “We’ll be ready.” The Buckeye men’s team hoped to improve on its runner-up finish at last year’s Big Ten Championships, but fell to 12-time defending champion Wisconsin and could only manage a seventh place finish. On a day when the men’s squad needed solid scoring efforts from all of its runners, only senior Chad Balyo cracked the top 20 with a time of 24:10.2. Close behind was junior Jake Edwards who charged to 22nd place in 24:18.0. “I was very pleased with Chad and Jake today,” OSU coach Robert Gary said. “They closed well and moved well throughout the race.” Beyond Balyo and Edwards’ contributions, Gary described the day’s result as “very disappointing.” “We gave a pretty poor effort today,” Gary said. “The guys didn’t get out well, we were buried in the middle of the pack and we got out-hustled.” Trailing the Buckeyes’ top two finishers were sophomores Donny Roys and Chris Fallon, and junior Taylor Williams, earning times of 24:44.8, 24:45.4, and 24:45.3 respectively. “I never thought we’d fall all the way to seventh place, so we didn’t do ourselves any favors” Gary said. “I just hope our guys haven’t given up on the team.”