Junior sprinter and hurdler Alexandria Johnson jumps over a hurdle during the Buckeye Tune-Up Feb. 21 at French Field House.Credit: Brandon Claflin / Lantern photographer“Let the gun go off.”Those were the words of Ohio State women’s track coach Karen Dennis as her team prepared for one of the most competitive meets the runners will face all year.The Buckeyes are headed to Baton Rouge, La., to compete against No. 10 Kansas, No. 13 UCLA, Mississippi St. and No. 8 LSU in what the Dennis says could be one of the most competitive meets of the season“These are some hot teams and they are some of the best in the country,” Dennis said. “We have a strong team and we think we can compete with them. I say let the gun go off.”Redshirt-senior sprinter Ashlee Abraham said she anticipates the fierce competition will help her score high marks on the weekend.“I’m really excited to see what myself and the team is going to do,” Abraham said. “If the environment is right, I feel like I can run to the best of my ability. That’s what I’m aiming for.”When an athlete sees his or her name nationally ranked, Abraham said it is a confidence booster, and when she sees her own name, it shows her hard work is paying off. But at the same time, being ranked can prove as a motivational tool.“(The rankings) change constantly,” Abraham said. “You can move up and down so quickly. It is a reminder there is always somebody after you, just like you are always after somebody else. It keeps you motivated and keeps you pushing because track and field … it doesn’t stop.”When heading into a high-intensity meet, Abraham chooses to focus on herself instead of eyeing the competition because it takes her away from her main goal.“I tend to over think. When I overthink, it doesn’t really go well,” Abraham said. “It’s when I’m not thinking and just running that I run my best.”Another athlete who finds self-focusing to be the best preparation for a big meet is senior jumper Bianca Walton.“If I focus too much on what others are doing, it will distract me from what I need to be doing,” Walton said. “At the end of the day, they are just other competitors. They are just as good as me and I’m just as good as them. It is just about how can I make that reflect in the meet.”This weekend’s meet is team scored, which creates camaraderie among the team, Dennis said, because each event needs a good score in order for the team to score well overall.“It becomes not about just (individual events) but it’s about the team,” Dennis said. “(There is) a lot more energy. It’s fun to have scored events because people get excited about it.”Walton feels the team is ready and prepared to take on the team scored meet.“When we collectively come together, we can do powerful things,” Walton said.Dennis said her team can do “powerful things” especially in the outdoor season.“We are a better outdoor team,” she said. “The outdoor season suits our skill set better.”While the outdoor season presents some changes in the way certain races are run, Dennis is confident once her team adjusts fully to the changes, the team will be better competitors outside all around.“I expect us to build on our performance (from) last week,” she said. “The more we compete against the best in the country, it is only going to make us better.”The men’s track team will join the women’s team in Baton Rouge, La. The races are set to begin Saturday morning.
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