Ohio will make the short jaunt to Columbus this weekend for the Jesse Owens Track Classic. The annual meet hosted by Ohio State is held at the historic Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Bobcats are coming off a successful showing at the Charlotte Invitational, where they recorded numerous personal bests and one first-place finish. The throwers headlined the meet for the Bobcats, tallying seven of the team’s 11 top-five finishes in events.
Junior thrower Gaza Odunaiya arguably had the best individual performance for the Bobcats. She qualified for the Mid-American Conference Championships in her two main events, the hammer throw and the discus. She bested teammate Emma Ryan by a little over half an inch to win the discus with a personal-record launch of 47.65 meters (156.4 feet).
Although the throwers provided most of the highlights in Charlotte, the Bobcats did have its moments on the track.
Senior sprinter Mya Hodge was one of the many Bobcats who recorded personal records. She is returning to the track this week after two lifetime-best performances in the 100-meter hurdles and the 100-meter dash. She only needs to trim her hurdles time by a little less than half a second to automatically qualify for the MAC Championships herself.
“I feel good going into the rest of the season,” she said. “I’m really starting to trust my training and see results. I’m ready to go for this weekend.”
Although the competition has gotten stiffer by the meet this outdoor season, Ohio still lacks experience when it comes to going up against bigger schools and top-tier programs.
The Raleigh Relays were a great learning experience for the Bobcats in the early part of the season to gain some of that experience. In recent meets, however, that level of competition hasn’t been present in most events.
Some of the teams that will be in attendance this weekend include host Ohio State, Michigan State, Bowling Green, Miami, Kent State and Ball State. Akron, the defending MAC champions, and Eastern Michigan, the returning MAC runner-ups, will also be in attendance.
It can be intimidating to go up against bigger teams. Add the pressure of competing in one of the most recognizable and distinguished track and field complexes in the country, and it can be nerve-wracking. Ohio doesn’t seem too concerned, though.
Hodge, a senior, was quick to note how the culture has changed at Ohio since her freshman year when it comes to the preparation surrounding big meets.
“When I was younger here, there was more of that idea of people getting nervous before big meets,” she said. “Looking at the type of people we have on the team this year and looking back last year, we just really have enjoyed ourselves as a team. We just really enjoy being with each other.”
The Jesse Owens Track Classic kicks off Friday at 2 p.m. with the hammer throw and javelin. Events on the track begin at 6:30 p.m., Friday with the 5,000 meters. Field events on Saturday start at 10:30 a.m. with the shot put. Running events then begin at noon.
The Bobcats have a significant test in front of them this weekend. They are more than excited, however, for the challenge ahead.
“Instead of getting nervous, we kind of get hyped up to see what we can do against these big power fives and other good teams,” Hodge said. “The team attitude has changed significantly since I’ve been here so I think everyone’s pretty hyped about it.”