Feb. 22, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State track and field team competed in its last weekend of competition of the regular season as Spartans were represented at both the Silverston Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind. Antonio James led the Spartans at the Silverston Invite with two event wins, while the MSU sprinters turned in a win and three career-best performances at the Alex Wilson Invite.
"The competition was ok," said assistant coach Blaine Maag, who was at the Silverston Invite. "I think we expected a little bit more. I know we had some developmental kids come compete at this meet and I think they did alright. We used it for our younger kids to be able to compete. I think the shot put competition went well. A.J. (Antonio James) looked really, really good. He didn't quite have a big throw, but he looked good and is where he needs to be. Chris Hessell is coming around. We got out of it what we wanted which was just to compete. We just wanted a meet for them to go try to get a mark. We'll go into next weekend fresh and I think the marks will be there."
Earning his fifth individual weight throw win of the season, Antonio James posted a first-place mark of 21.03m/ 69-0. Connor Kostrzewa placed fourth overall with a mark of 18.46m/ 60-6¾, while Vincens Gjokaj hit a mark of 18.29m/ 60-0¼ to place sixth.
James also took first-place honors in the shot put for the third time this season as he posted a mark of 18.79m/ 61-7¾. He was followed by Riley Norman, who competed unattached and placed sixth with a mark of 16.17m/ 53-0¾. Rounding out the Spartans in the event was Chris Hessell (15.83m/51-11¼, 7th), Gjokaj (14.85m/ 48-8¾, 12th) and Devyn Bogart competing unattached with a mark of 13.22m/ 43-4½ for 15th.
Earning an individual win in the pole vault, Tim Canfield hit a personal-best mark of 4.77m/15-7¾. In the women's pole vault, MSU finished in second and third place as Kassie Powell turned in a runner-up mark of 3.83m/ 12-6¾, while Jordan Keefe finished third with a season-best mark of 3.53m/ 11-7. Chelsea Henderson competed in the women's weight throw, hitting a mark of 14.76m/ 48-5¼ to place eighth overall. In the 400-meter dash, Connor Caporale posted a 10th place time of 51.82 in the 400-meter dash.
Meanwhile, at the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind., the Spartan sprinters had a breakout day highlighted by an individual win and three personal-best performances.
"For the most part we achieved what we wanted to do," said assistant coach Randy Gillon, who was at the Alex Wilson Invite. "We went in there with a small contingency with the intent of sharpening up for some people and getting others going and I think we did what we needed to do. When you have a small group, each individual is responsible for creating their own energy and their own atmosphere they need to be successful. No question, we could've done better in that regard, but I still feel like they did enough to manage ourselves as a small group. We've got to get better, no doubt about it. They have to make some strides as a group, but at the minimum, they are catching fire at the right time."
Jelissa Westney earned an individual win in the 200-meter dash, posting a season-best time of 24.24 for first-place honors. She was followed by Janae Hill, who also ran a season-best time of 24.27 to finish fourth. Lauren Rose placed fifth with a personal-best time of 25.11, while Jaelynn Pryor clocked a time of 25.84 for a sixth-place finish in her first race in the event this season.
With a career-best time of 7.55 in the finals of the 60-meter dash, Westney placed fourth overall in the event.
"Jelissa (Westney) had a day full of personal records in both the prelim and finals of the 60 and the 200 as well," Gillon said. "The marks just move us along. I know and we know that its not going to cut it in a week or so, but what's important right now is the momentum and confidence that she has gained from this experience and how it will help her to continue to run personal records and perform at a high level next week. She really came to the meet with a business-like approach, very no-nonsense and I think as a result, it really helped her hone in on what it is she has to do to be successful and it worked."
In the 60-meter hurdles, Rose qualified for the finals and tied her season-best time of 8.52 to finish third.
"With Lauren (Rose), it was about trying to get more races, said Gillon. "We did not leave with the time that we had hoped, but she equaled her personal record and, much like Jelissa, she was able to garner some momentum moving forward. We saw and she's aware of the mistakes, so if nothing else, it was good to run a personal record with a plethora of things to correct."
Pryor also competed in the 400-meter dash for the first time in 2014, recording a time of 56.44 to place eighth overall.
"It was good to have Jaelynn (Pryor) getting her feet wet again and get things rolling," Gillon said. "By no means is it a time that we wanted, but momentum is very important and just to get back into the competitive swing of things. We're certain she'll be where she needs to be next week in order to help us, but she has to get better over these next five or six days."
The Spartans will be back in action next week as they compete for a conference title at the 2014 Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships on Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1 at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.