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Feb. 6, 1997

Spartans to Host the 'Crown Jewel' of College Track and Field

Friday-Saturday Feb. 7-8 CENTRAL COLLEGIATES Jenison Field House

Jenison Field House will be the site of one of the most prestigious collegiate track and field events in the country, the Central Collegiate Championships. The event, held Feb. 7-8, will feature some of the best teams in the Midwest as they battle it out for the famed title. The event will begin Friday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m., and will be continued the following day at 11:30 a.m.

The Green and White have run well in the Central Collegiates the last few years, including a seventh-place finish in last season's event. Several current Spartans had solid showings during that meet, including a second-place finish by Ramsey Watkins (Flint) in the 55-meter high hurdles (7.48 seconds), senior Ryan Kennedy (Rochester Hills) in the 3,000 (8:33.44) and junior Damon Heard (Ypsilanti) in the 55-meter dash (6.47).

The last time a Spartan individual won an event was during the 1995 meet, as Brad Fields won both the 55 dash (6.32) and the 200 dash (21.34), while Chris Lett won the honors in the 3,000 (8:25.10). In that competition, the squad placed third, behind just Michigan and Eastern Michigan, with 79 points. Michigan State last hosted the Central Collegiates in 1993, when it placed fifth out of 13 squads. Kennedy, as part of the distance medley relay, took home an event championship as the relay hit the tape in 9:32.99.

No, it's freshman standout Okoineme Giwa-Agbomeirele (Midland), bounding his way to another victory in the long jump. It happened at the Spartan Invitational on Feb. 1, as MSU entertained Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Marquette, Hillsdale and Windsor. Despite the conglomerate of teams, no team scores were kept.

After tasting defeat for the first time in his prep and collegiate career the previous week at the Michigan Intercollegiates, Giwa-Agbomeirele seized his revenge against the jumper who snapped his unbeaten streak. It took a meet record of 24 feet, 0.25 inches by Aaron Oaks of Western Michigan at the Michigan Intercollegiates to dislodge Giwa-Agbomeirle from the winner's stand, but the Spartan flyer came back to win the Spartan Invitational long jump title with a leap of 23 feet, 6.75 inches. He also finished second in the triple jump, bounding 46 feet, 5.50 inches.

It had to come sometime, but it wasn't too sad for MSU fans to wave bye-bye to sophomore Kyle Baker's (Anderson, Ind.) undefeated record as a Spartan. Unbeaten in every race during the 1997 indoor season, he finally met his match in teammate Ryan Kennedy. In the mile run, Kennedy ran away from the field with a stellar time of 4:07.45, fast enough for the race title. On his heels was Baker, finishing second in 4:08.38. Kennedy's time was the season-best by a Spartan in the mile.

Sophomore Lee Mays (Muskegon Heights) sprinted his way into the winner's circle, scorching the field in the 400 meters, breaking the tape first in 50.04 seconds. He edged out Chris Polk of Western Michigan by just .49 seconds.

In one of the tightest races of the day, senior Dean Rugh (White Lake) was edged out in the 800, as Terry Haley of Marquette nipped out at the finish line, 1:53.35 to 1:53.53. Senior Eric Eichinger (Kalamazoo) placed fourth in the event, crossing the finish line in 1:56.80.

Junior Tyrone Garland (Cliffwood, NJ) launched his way into the spotlight at the Michigan Intercollgiates, winning the shot put in his 1997 track debut with a toss of 54 feet, 6.25 inches. Garland, a football middle linebacker, didn't disappoint in his second showing, placing second at the Spartan Invitational with a heave of 53 feet, 11.75 inches. Other field event standouts included freshman Keith Sudeheimer (Farmington) in the high jump (fifth; six feet, four inches) and Everett Edgar in the long jump (fourth, 22 feet, 2.25 inches).

Spartans dominated the 3,000 run, as MSU placed four runners in the top five. Junior Jim Jurcevich (Defiance, Ohio) led the pack, finishing second in 8:14.64. Following him was a trio of sophomores: Chris Wehrman (Pinckney, 8:27.24), Steve Schell (Dearborn, 8:31.91) and Jake Nay (Columbus, Ind, 8:36.56). In the 55 high hurdles, senior sprinter Ramsey Watkins (Flint) raced into third place with a time of 7.79 seconds.

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