Jody Victor : Football Buckeyes Lace Up Track Spikes

Jody Victor: Now that spring practice has concluded for the football team, several Buckeyes have turned their attention to the track and will run in the 2007 Jesse Owens Classic Saturday in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Classic is in its 22nd running and has been the stage for numerous Olympians such as Roger Kingdom, Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses and Ohio State's own Butch Reynolds.

Last week at the Drake Relays, three Ohio State football players made their track debuts in the 4×100-meter relay. Freshman defensive back Chimdi Chekwa (Chim-dee Cheek-wah), junior All-Big Ten cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and sophomore wide receiver Dan Potokar joined All-Big Ten sprinter Anthony Cole in setting a season-best in the event at 41.57. The unit will look to improve that mark at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday.

A first-team all-league selection at cornerback last season, Jenkins was a track standout at Piscataway High School in New Jersey. He won a state title as a junior in the 400 meters and finished third in state in the 200m as a senior. He also ran hurdles, posting another third-place finishe his senior season.

Competing for Grove City, Potokar displayed his track talent two years ago in the high school portion of the Jesse Owens Classic. The son of former Ohio State All-American wrestler Ed Potokar (1980-83),  Dan Potokar owns the 100-meter dash high school record at The Classic with his time of 10.85 seconds in 2005. Chekwa, from Clermont, FL, was an all-state sprinter at East Ridge High School.

Cole will serve as the 4x100m anchor. The junior from Columbia, MD, is a two-time Big Ten champion, winning conference titles in the 60-and 200-meter dahses indoors. He was the Big Ten men's freshman of the year in 2005.

Ohio State has had a strong tradition of football players excelling on its men's track and field team. In 1992-93, running backs Butler By'not'e (1990-93) and Robert Smith (1990-92) and wide receiver Chris Sanders (1992-94) helped the Buckeyes win back-to-back Big Ten outdoor 4×100-meter relay and 4×400-meter relay titles. Sanders, a Big Ten champion and All-American in the long jump, also contributed to Ohio State Big Ten outdoor team championships in 1992 and '93.

In more recent seasons, former Ohio State wide receivers Drew Carter (2000-03) and Michael Jenkins (2000-03) ran relays for the Buckeyes. Carter, who also was an All-American long jumper in 2003, combined with Jenkins and Joel Brown (2001-04), a former three-time All-American sprinter, to reach the 2003 NCAA Mideast Regional meet in the 4x100m.

Carter holds the fourth-best long jump mark in Ohio State history at 26 feet, 3 1/2 inches. He trails some impressive company. Sanders is tied with Joe Greene (1987-90), a two-time Olympic bronze medalist (1992 and '96), at No. 2 at 26-7. Owens holds the Ohio state record at 26-8 3/4, the same year he won four Olympic gold medals in Berlin, Germany.

Go Bucks!

Jody Victor