Feb. 7, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State track and field team kicked off day one of weekend competition on Friday. Led by a win by Antonio James in the weight throw and a new school record in the pole vault by Sarah Birkmeier, the Spartans had a successful first day at the Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind. MSU also had a strong showing at the Hillsdale College Wide Track Classic, while Kurt Schneider surged to a second-place standing in the heptathlon at the Akron Invitational.
"I thought we competed pretty well," said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "There wasn't great energy in the building, but I thought we did a nice job. I thought across the board, we competed pretty well and it sets the tone well for tomorrow. Honestly, after last week's missed meet, some of them are getting quite a workload. The short sprinters are doing a lot more than they normally do, but we've got to get them into competition and get them going."
The Spartans were well-represented in the women's pole vault led by Sarah Birkmeier, who broke the school record and picked up her first win in the event this season with a mark of 4.06m/13-3¾. She was followed by Hannah Sailar in third and Kassie Powell in fourth, each posting a mark of 3.85m/12-7½.
"Sarah did a great job of competing," said Drenth. "She made the nationals last year and is really evolving not only into a good pole vaulter, but also a team leader. It's really been fun to see that kind of evolution."
MSU had two runners finish in the top-10 of the women's 5,000-meter run led by Julia Otwell in fourth with a time of 16:39.33, while Shelby Jackson clocked time of 16:51.33 for seventh. Also in the distance events, Angela Swain finished in seventh-place in the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:51.99.
In the men's 1,000-meter run, Nick Moon also placed seventh overall, clocking a time of 2:28:48. David Madrigal represented the Spartans in the men's 5,000-meter run, as he posted a ninth-place finish with a time of 14:27.52.
Competing in four events so far, Kurt Schneider sits in second place overall in the heptathlon at the Akron Invitational with an overall score of 3161. He posted a runner-up finish in the 60-meter dash with a personal-best time of 7.09, before moving on to the long jump where he hit a mark of 6.94m/ 22-9¼ for another second-place finish. Schneider placed seventh in the shot put with a mark of 11.97m/ 39-3¼, before winning the high jump with a mark of 2.11m/ 6-11.
"Kurt's definitely on pace to do what we came to do," said assistant coach of multi-events Ceith Creekmur. "He had a personal record in the 60 and his high jump was pretty good, so we sandwiched two good events in there. There are a lot of points out there tomorrow. Day two is where he can make a lot of improvements with big jumps."
Meanwhile, several Spartans put up strong performances at the Hillsdale College Wide Track Classic.
"It went well," said graduate assistant coach Beckah Smeltzer. "We really just wanted them to be competitive and feel successful at the end of the day. Once they got into a fluidity of competition, they did really well. In the distance events, they really got into the competition. The guys in the 3,000 took the lead and control of the race and it was great to see them take ownership of it. The women did the same thing, just running their own race and not someone else's. They really delved into the competition."
In the men's 3,000-meter, MSU finished fourth through sixth paced by Ben Carruthers (8:34:26) in fourth, Chris Collier (8:34.62) in fifth and Andrew Cusmano (8:43.63) who placed sixth overall. Competing unattached on the women's side, Allison Lunau finished first with a time of 9:54.41, while Natalie Smith clocked a fourth-place time of 10:00.98.
Posting a top-10 finish in the 60-meter hurdles, Spartan newcomer Nadia Lorencz placed eighth overall with a time of 9.16. She also picked up a fifth-place mark in the long jump, hitting 5.26m/17-3¼.
The Spartans will be back in action at the Meyo Invitational tomorrow, Feb. 8, while Kurt Schneider will wrap up competition in the heptathlon at the Akron Invitational.