April 27, 1997

Men's Track and Field Prepares for Central Collegiate Championships

HEAD COACH: Darroll Gatson (2nd Year)

UP NEXT:  FridaySaturday  May 2-3    Central Collegiate Championships    Kalamazoo, Mich.

CENTRAL COLLEGIATES: The Spartans will stay in Michigan as they travel to Kalamazoo for the Central Collegiate Championships, held May 2-3 on the campus of Western Michigan University. Michigan State will bring an experienced squad into the Central Collegiates atmosphere, as five current Spartans reached fourth place or better in last season's event. A pair of former MSU runners, Chris Lett and Jarion Bradley, took home race titles last year, as Lett captured the 3,000-meter steeplechase (8:54.83) and Bradley seized the 400-meter hurdles championship (51.60).

FIELDS OF DREAMS: Michigan State senior Brad Fields (Kentwood) lived up to his three-time All-American billing at the Drake Relays, held April 25-26 in Des Moines, Iowa. Facing tough competition, including Olympic gold-medalist Michael Johnson, Fields proved he belonged with the best in the nation, as he nearly came away with two event victories.

Fields was amid the most exciting race of the Relays, as the University and College 100-meter dash finals was decided by just .01 seconds, with the top three separated by just .04 seconds. Thad Shannon of Doane hit the tape at 10.63 seconds, edging out Fields in a photo finish, as the Spartan sprinter clocked in at 10.64. Adding to the excitement was the third-place run of Arizona's Akin Akinremi, who stopped the watch in 10.67.

But Fields' day wasn't close to over, as he was entered in the most anticipated race of the Relays. The Special 200-meter dash featured the superstar of American track and field, Olympic gold-medalist Michael Johnson. Fields proved he could hang with the best, as he took fourth with a mark of 20.88 seconds. But it was merely .83 behind Johnson's winning time of 20.05. Fields reached the fastest time for a Spartan in the 200 this season.

To open the Relays for the Spartans, Fields combined with junior Damon Heard (Ypsilanti), senior Ramsey Watkins (Flint) and sophomore Jason Coulter (Flint) in the sprint medley prelims, as they narrowly missed reaching the finals, crossing the finish line in 3:25.99. Another Spartan relay squad, consisting of senior Eric Eichinger (Kalamazoo), sophomore Chris Wehrman (Pinckney), senior Pat Hoard (Plymouth, Minn.) and junior Kyle Baker (Anderson, Ind.), grabbed sixth place in the 4x1,600, as they clocked in at 16:48.35.

Baker also proved worthy of his All-American status, as he seized third place in the 1,500, crossing the finish line in 3:48.11. He received solid support from his distance-running teammates, as a duo of Spartans made an impact in the longer races of the event. Wehrman seized ninth place in the 3,000 with a mark of 9:07.85, while junior Mark Goodfellow (Oxford) backed him up with a 21st-place finish, clocking in at 9:24.94. In the 5,000, Hoard reached the top ten, as he finished in the tenth spot at 14:29.47. Junior Jim Jurcevich (Defiance, Ohio) took 23rd in 15:12.59.

In other Spartan action, Watkins took seventh in the third heat of the 110-meter hurdles at 15.24. Junior Tyrone Garland (Cliffwood, NJ) came back from spring football to compete in the shot put, earning 27th with a toss of 46'1.5".