Track & Field
Otwell and Pugh also score points for the Spartans on the first day of competition.
Michigan State post multiple season-best performances in throws events.
MSU posts 14 personal-best performances to kickoff at Gina Relays and Triton Invite.
Michigan State opens strong on first day of competition in Athens, Ga.
Spartans win the women's 4x400, post eight individual wins and eight personal-bests.
John Newell by the Numbers:
John Newell is entering his fifth season as assistant coach for the track & field program. Newell oversees the throwers on the Spartan roster and in his short time with the program, Newell has made an immediate impact.
In 2011, the MSU throwers had their breakout year on the national scene with seven athletes qualifying for NCAA's in eight events - with all eight earning All-American honors. Beth Rohl earned the Great Lakes Region Women's Field Athlete of the Year in 2011, along with winning two Big Ten outdoor titles in the discus (55.94m) and Hammer throw (60.28m). In addition, Rohl was was named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Big Ten Outdoor Championship and Big Ten Field Athlete of the Year. Lonnie Pugh won the Discus at the Big Ten meet for the second time as a Spartan and was third in the hammer throw, breaking the school record with an effort of 62.82m. The previous school record was held by Anthony Agrusa at 62.25m, who was the first Spartan thrower to break the 200' barrier. Coach Newell qualified eight throwers in ten events to the 2011 NCAA first round, with four throwers moving on to the NCAA finals in Des Moines, IA. The MSU throwers produced five All-American performances in 2011 at the outdoor NCAA championships.
The 2011 indoor season started off with a school record in the weight throw by Anthony Agrusa (19.89m), Agrusa would he would go on to throw 20.30m and finish ninth at the 2011 Indoor Big Ten Championships. The MSU throwers had many standout performances during the 2011 indoor season, with four male throwers surpassing 19.75m in the weight throw and three women throwers breaking 18m. Redshirt Freshman Zack Hill(18.57m) and Lonnie Pugh(20.67m) finished second at the Big Ten meet and later went on to become indoor All-Americans. Pugh finished fifth at the 2011 Indoor Championships with a new MSU school-record of 21.06m.
Coach Newell helped multiple athletes achieve accolades in 2009; including Beth Rohl, Lonnie Pugh and four other regional qualifiers. Rohl, the Big Ten Indoor Freshman Of The Year, received a bronze medal at the Pan Am Junior Nationals during the summer of 2009. Rohl also recorded a second-place finish at the U.S. Junior Nationals and first place at the 2009 Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships. Pugh earned the first Big Ten Championship title in the men's discus and a tallied a fourteenth-place finish at outdoor NCAAs. Pugh ended the season with the best freshman discus throw in the country. He also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and posted a school record toss in the discus, recording a distance of 58.65m (192-5). Another school record that was broken under Newell's guidance was the hammer throw, in which Anthony Agrusa tossed 59.21m (194-3). His effort earned him regional qualifying honors. Other regional qualifiers coached under Newell include Brad Wentzel (discuss, shot put), Kyle Strotbaum (hammer throw) and Ashley Lawrence (shot put and discus).
Newell has coached six school-record holders and eleven NCAA Mideast Regional qualifiers including Agrusa, who finished third at the Big Ten Championships and Zoe Pelbart, who qualified for the NCAA Championships in the javelin. Under Newell's guidance, the Michigan State throwers are turning into one of the most balanced throwing groups in the country having athletes advance to the finals in all throwing events.
He arrived in East Lansing after spending a year at Ashland University in Ohio. At Ashland, Newell was trained as a hammer thrower with Jud Logan, a four-time Olympian as his coach and mentor. Before his move to Ashland Ohio, Newell completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia where he was coached by Don Babbitt. He was a six-time NCAA qualifier in the hammer throw, weight throw, and an All-American in the shot put (18.97m). During his throwing career, Newell proved to be versatile, ranking in the top 15 of all-time as a combination event thrower.
Newell is a record holder in the hammer and shot put at Sacramento City College, where he earned an associates degree in 2002. He then moved on to the University of Georgia, where he served as a Bulldogs' team captain and became an All-American in the shot put. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology in 2005.
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