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Feb. 17, 1997

Pair of Sprinters to Lead Spartan Effort

Sat.-Sun. Feb. 22-23 Big Ten Championships Champaign, Ill.

The Michigan State women's track and field team will travel to Champaign, Ill., for the 16th Annual Big Ten Championships. MSU is hoping to improve upon last season's sixth-place finish at the Big Ten Indoor Championships. A pair of sprinters will lead the Spartans' effort to move up in the Big Ten standings.

Senior Chandra Burns (Detroit) is looking to successfully defend her 1996 league titles in the 200 and 400 meters. Burns currently has the Big Ten's top time in the 400 with a 54.01 clocking at the Cannon IV Classic two weeks ago. Her NCAA provisional qualifying time of 24.22 in the 200 meters is the third-best time in the Big Ten this season. In addition to the 200 and 400, Burns will compete in the 55-meter dash and the 600-meter run.

Senior Sevatheda Fynes (Nassau, Bahamas), who will be competing in her first Big Ten Championship, is the top contender in the 55 meters. Her time of 6.71 at the Michigan Intercollegiates on Jan. 25, is the best time in the nation this season. Fynes will also challenge Burns in the 200 meters. Her time of 23.82 is tops in the Big Ten. Fynes will also compete in the 400 and 600.

Junior Shermaine McKenzie (Nassau, Bahamas) is another sprinter who could help garner points for the Spartans. McKenzie will compete in the 55, 200, 400 and 600 meters.

In the distance events, senior Stephanie Dueringer (Champaign, Ill.) will lead the way. Dueringer, who finished third in the 3,000 meters last season, has the eighth-best time (9:55.38) in that event this season. She will also compete in the 5,000 meters, an event in which she placed sixth at last season's Big Ten Championships. Dueringer's NCAA provisional qualifying time of 16:37.91 is the second-best clocking this season in the league.

Other distance runners expected to challenge for points are freshman Leah Nilsson (Williamston) in the 3,000 and 5,000; junior Karyn Duba (Alto) in the mile and 3,000; and senior Amy Hayes (Shelby) in the mile.

If the Spartans are to improve upon last season's Big Ten finish, they will need to garner some much-needed points in the field events. MSU did not place any athletes in the top six in the field events at last season's championship.

The 1997 contingent will be led by freshman Lisa Brown (Fife, Scotland) in the high jump and junior Lawanda Byrd (West Palm Beach, Fla.) in the triple jump. Byrd will also compete in the 55 hurdles, an event in which she place fourth last season.

The Michigan State women's track and field team hosted the non-scoring Spartan Open at Jenison Field House. Five teams competed in the event: Central Michigan, Ferris State, Lansing Community College, Macomb Community College and Saginaw Valley State.

The Spartans posted eight first-place finishes in the meet, led by a sweep in the 200 meters. In that race, Fynes took top honors with a time of 24.09, while Burns clocked an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 24.22. McKenzie and Lacrecia Tyus finished third and fourth, respectively.

MSU also swpet the top four places in the mile with Nilsson crossing the line first with a time of 5:09.34. She was followed by Rita Arndt (5:09.75), Becky Caldwell (5:15.30) and Duba (5:18.30).

In the 400 meters, McKenzie placed first with a time of 57.39, while Jenny Denkins (Fr., Flushing) took the top spot in the 3,000 meters with a time of 10:28.45.

"It was a solid, feel-good meet; a nice warm-up for the conference championships. The meet was low-key, but all the athletes competed hard.

"The Big Ten Championships is one of the best in the country in track and field. We have a group of athletes who can be competitive at the meet. I think we're looking at several athletes to be performing well. It's not just the top kids that you will see. We have the opportunity to have a good meet."

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