Feb. 9, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State track and field teams completed competition at the SPIRE Invitational in Geneva, Ohio on Saturday afternoon. The Spartans also took part in events held on the second day of the GVSU Big Meet in Allendale, Mich.
"We had people continue to make great progress," said assistant coach Randy Gillon. "They are putting themselves in the position to be successful. I think what we saw today was consistency from a few people and people like Josh McAlary, Leah O'Connor and Sara Kroll providing some key leadership for some of the younger members of the team. That's what you want to see is consistency from your key people. We also saw some key people take some steps forward. As we go into the Big Ten competition, we are going to need everybody firing at all cylinders, stepping up and competing at a high level."
On day two of competition at the SPIRE Invitational, sophomore Jellisa Westney finished 17th overall in the prelims of the 60-meter dash, tying her career-best time of 7.71. Also competing in the event was sophomore Alicia Evans who clocked a career-best time of 7.76 to place 23rd, while freshman Janae Hill posted a time of 7.88 to finish 35th.
MSU had four runners place in the top-25 of the 3,000-meter run. Redshirt sophomore Sara Kroll turned in a third-place finish, running a season-best 9:18.32. Placing 15th in the event, redshirt freshman Lindsay Clark posted a time of 9:36.95, followed by redshirt senior Rachel McFarlane with a time of 9:44.05 for 17th. Redshirt junior Veronica Wilson rounded out the Spartans, finishing 23rd with at time of 9:50.15.
In the finals of 400-meter dash, Michigan State posted four top-15 finishes. Evans was the first Spartan to cross the finish line, placing sixth with a career-best time of 54.63. Redshirt senior Alysson Bodenbach turned in a season-best time of 55.02 to finish 10th. Posting another career-best time was Westney, who place 13th with a time of 55.24, followed by redshirt sophomore Jaelynn Pryor with a career-best time of 55.35 for 14th place.
"The women in the 400 definitely stood out," said Gillon. "Alicia Evans had another big personal record. Jellisa Westney had a personal record and so did Jaelynn Pryor who wasn't feeling to well. All three women ran significantly well and made some strides and progress in the race."
For the second time this season, redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor broke a meet record in the mile run. She finished third overall with a new career-best time of 4:38.74. Teammate Angela Swain placed 26th in the event with a time of 5:00.55. Redshirt freshman Sara Stassen posted a time of 2:15.51 to place 35th in the 800-meter run.
"Leah O'Connor is a young lady who is really coming into her own with a lot of maturity and running like a seasoned athlete," Gillon said. "Though her time did not get her the win, it was another personal record in a very physical and challenging race where she could have succumbed to some of the adversity she faced. She was resilient and steadfast in a heck of a race. She is moving up the performance list in not only the Big Ten, but nationally as well."
MSU picked up two top-10 marks in the triple jump as sophomore Tori Franklin recorded a mark of 12.29m/ 40-4 to place fifth overall and teammate Ashley Stacey was close behind in sixth place with a mark of 12.28m/ 40-3½. Franklin also finished 22nd in the long jump with a mark of 5.29m/ 17-4¼, while Stacey posted a mark of 5.25m/ 17-2¾ to place 26th.
The 4x400-meter relay finished third as the team of Evans, Franklin, Westney and Bodenbach posted a time of 3:39.39.
On the men's side, redshirt senior Josh McAlary broke the SPIRE meet record in the mile. He finished third overall with a career-best time of 4:00.52. Redshirt junior Ben Miller turned in another top-10 time in the event, placing 10th with a career-best time of 4:09.43. Finishing16th was redshirt sophomore Drake Veitenheimer with a time of 4:15.78.
"Watching Josh just barely miss running under four minutes was very exciting," said Gillon. "To do that in the kind of race that it was showed a lot of maturity on his part. The young man is really starting to come on at the right time in a conference that has a mile that is arguably as good as it gets. He's really made a statement with his effort and has put himself in the conversation for getting on the podium. It was a tremendous job on his part."
The Spartans placed four in the top-25 of the 800-meter run. Redshirt senior Joe Banyai was the top runner for MSU, finishing second with a time of 1:50.46. He was followed by teammate Austin Wissler who ran a career-best 1:51.24 to place sixth. Posting a time of 1:53.00, redshirt freshman Ryan Haag placed 21st, while freshman Brandon Wallace finished 22nd with a season-best time of 1:53.12.
Freshman Austin Sanders posted a time of 7.14 to place 35th in the 60-meter dash. He later finished 11th overall in the 200-meter dash, clocking in at 21.98. Teammate DeVantré Whitelow finished with a time of 22.02 in the event to place 14th, while sophomore Aaron Hendricks turned in a time of 22.48 for 19th place.
In the 3,000-meter, redshirt freshman Caleb Rhynard finished fourth overall with a career-best time of 8:05.98. Also competing in the event was redshirt sophomore David Madrigal who finished with his career-best time of 8:21.45 for 16th place.
"Caleb Rhynard had a big personal record in the 3K," Gillon said. "It was a tough race; it kind of got away from him. He took some time closing the gap, but he eventually did. The young man is on his way. He's just a race or two away from getting something really special. As he grows and gains more experience, he is going to be someone that we are going to look to rely on moving forward. For a redshirt freshman to run that time is outstanding. He is starting to put himself with elite company."
On the field, redshirt junior Derik Peterman tied for seventh in the pole vault with a mark of 4.90m/ 16-0¾. Freshman Jaime Salisbury recorded the same mark, but in more attempts to also tie for seventh-place.
In the triple jump, sophomore Jarred Gambrell finished fourth overall with a mark of 14.89m/ 48-10¼. He also hit a mark of 6.63m/ 21-9 in the long jump to tie for 14th place. Sophomore Owen Hughes posted a mark of 2.03m/ 6-8 to also tie for 14th place overall.
Meanwhile at the GVSU Big Meet, senior Brittany Dobson posted a time of 2:18.42 to place eighth in the 800-meter run.
In the high jump, freshman Adeline Grier-Welch tied for third with a mark of 1.60m/ 5-3. Redshirt senior thrower Kelsey Prena posted a mark of 12.44m/ 40-9¾ in the shot put to tie for 20th overall. Teammate Kaylee Finney finished 28th in the weight throw with a career-best mark of 15.29m/ 50-2.
"Every meet this season, we've seen people make some steps forward," said Gillon. "Now we're looking to see those same steps in mass. That's what it is going to take to be successful at Big Tens. Although we have our key individuals, we need everybody to take a personal responsibility in making the team better and bring the team closer to a championship level. Moving forward, we have the pieces to be successful, we just need everybody to come together at the right time, put their best foot forward and compete with great purpose."
The Spartans will be back in action next weekend as the head to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the Silverston Invitational on Feb. 16.