Feb. 14, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Posting several season- and personal-best performances, the Spartans had a strong opening day of weekend competition on Friday at the SPIRE Invitational in Geneva, Ohio, and the GVSU Big Meet in Allendale, Mich.
“I think we competed very well,” said assistant coach Randy Gillon. “We believe that success is infectious. So when the first few events go in a positive direction in the form of personal bests or wins, the athletes who have yet to compete will feed off that. It will give them confidence and reassure them that they to can do great things if they choose to engage and compete. It any competition, it’s important to get off to a fast, effective or productive start.
“Now we wait for tomorrow for a full day of even better performances. We’ll challenge our groups to do more and continue to press and progress moving forward with Big Tens only two weeks away.”
At the SPIRE Invitational, Antonio James led the Spartans with his fourth win in the weight throw this season as he threw for a mark of 21.64m/71-0. Posting a personal-best mark of 19.16m/62-10½, Connor Kostrzewa placed seventh overall.
“In the throws, there’s some good progress with Connor’s personal record,” Gillon said. “You never want to take A.J. (Antonio James) for granted that he continues to perform at a high level. What’s exciting about that is that to be able to perform consistently at a high level really bodes well for what he will be able to do at the conference meet in two weeks. To be able to stay that consistent this season is very exciting to see.”
In the pole vault, Codi Mattix earned first-place honors in the pole vault as he hit a season-best mark of 5.10m/ 16-8¾.
Earning an individual win in the 200-meter dash, Alicia Evans posted a season-best time of 24.19. She was followed by Jellisa Westney, who also raced to a season-best time of 24.45 to place fourth overall.
“The women sprinters had a good day,” said Gillon. “Coach (Walt) Drenth challenged the group to turn things around and step things up; they answered the call and they did just that. We still expect more from them in the coming weeks, but it was a good performance to set the tone as we head into the spring.”
With a career-best time of 1:19.24 in the 600-meter run, Branden Wallace finished third overall. The Spartans had two finish in the top-10 of the men’s 1,000-meter run led by Sherod Hardt who clocked a time of 2:24.64 for fifth, while Ben Miller finished sixth with a season-best time of 2:24.76.
Alexis Weirsma competed for the first time in the 5,000-meter run, placing third overall with a time of 16:44.57. In her first 1,000-meter run of the season, Erin Billette finished in seventh place with a time of 2:51.57.
The Spartan men stepped up in the 5,000-meter run, posting three top-five finishes. David Madrigal led the way by posting a season-best time of 14:22.96 for a runner-up finish, followed by Ben Carruthers in third with a time of 14:26.24. Placing fifth overall was Alex Wilson, who clocked a time of 14:28.21.
“There were a lot of things to be excited about in the distance events,” Gillon said. "There were quite a few personal records. We competed a young group, trying to get them opportunities to take the necessary steps we need them to make in order for them to be contributors at the Big Ten level and Coach Drenth was pleased with the number of personal bests that came from that group. All in all, they had a good showing with a lot of things to be optimistic about.”
In the women’s pentathlon, Tori Schiller finished in sixth place overall with 3,489 points in her first multi-event of the season and her Spartan career. She posted a fourth-place mark of 1.62m/5-3¾ in the high jump, while placing sixth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.93. She finished seventh in both the 800-meter run (2:35.65) and the long jump (5.33m/17-6) and placed ninth in the shot put (10.01m/32-10¼).
“Tory had a fairly decent meet in the women’s pentathlon with it being her first of the season,” said Gillon. “It was as you would expect with some adversity and growing pains with it, but all things considered, she showed great potential. It leaves us hopeful and optimistic for what lies ahead.”
Meanwhile, the Spartans also posted season-best performances at the GVSU Big Meet in Allendale, Mich.
Jaelynn Pryor finished third overall running unattached in the 600-meter dash as she clocked a time of 1:34.93.
Shaving over 10 full seconds off her time in the 3,000-meter run, Allison Lunau race unattached to place fifth overall with a season-best time of 9:44.22. Katie Landwehr also competed in the event for her first time this season, clocking a time of 9:55.67 for 12th place.
Finishing sixth in the weight throw, Kaylee Finney posted a career-best mark of 15.85m/ 52-0.
Competing unattached, Riley Norman took first-place honors in the shot put with a mark of 16.69m/54-9¼. In third place was Jake Bennett who hit a season-best mark of 15.26m/50-¾. Norman also finished third in the weight throw, posting a mark of 17.50m/ 57-5.
In the 800-meter run, Ed Clifton clocked a career-best time of 1:55.99 to place 30th overall. Competing unattached, two Spartans turned in top-15 finishes in the 3,000-meter run led by Nathan Burnand in 10th with a time of 8:30.47 and Max Benoit who clocked a season-best time of 8:32.23 to place 12th.
The Spartans will be back in action at both meets tomorrow with events at the SPIRE Invitational set to begin at 10 a.m., while the second day of competition at the GVSU Big Meet is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m.