Feb. 24, 2012
LINCOLN, NE. - The Michigan State Track and Field team wrapped up its first day of the Big Ten Indoor Championships at the Bob Devaney Center on the campus of the University of Nebraska with two Spartans taking the podium and host of others qualifying for a second day of competition.
Redshirt Sophomore Zack Hill (Zeeland, Mich./Allendale) placed third in the shot put, en route to earning his second Big Ten Indoor medal with a personal best 18.86m (61-10 ½). Hill was last year's second-place finisher in the same event at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.
Hill's teammate, Lonnie Pugh (Grosse Ile, Mich./Grosse Ile) continued Michigan State's success in the event with a new personal record - 17.81m (58-05 ¼) - which was good for eighth place. Redshirt Freshman Antonio James rounded out MSU's top ten showing with a ninth-place, 17.62m (57-09 ¾) effort.
The throwers were the Spartan's most valuable asset in team scoring, amassing seven of the men's nine total points. The Michigan State women sit in eighth place with a score of 18.50, just ahead of Ohio State and behind Illinois. The men are currently tied with Michigan for seventh place.
Another highlight from today's action came from senior Leslie Aririguzo (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield). She set a new school-record in the women's 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.275 seconds. Aririguzo's time tops Sonja Bennett's record of 8.29 seconds that she set in 1987.
Sophomore Ashley Stacey (Riverdale, Ill./Thornton Township) continued her tradition of clutch performances, earning third in the women's long jump finals with a distance of 6.05m (19-10 1/4). Stacey was the Big Ten Indoor Champion in triple jump in 2011.
Another solid performance came from Kurt Schneider (Lake Orion, Mich./Oakland Christian) in the men's heptathlon, finishing day one competition in second place with 3224 points. Schneider was third in the 60-meter dash (7.11), third in the long jump (7.18m / 23-06 ¾), twelfth in the shot put (12.48m / 40-11 ½), and first place in the high jump with an impressive 6-10 ¼ leap. Schneider is currently behind Japheth Cato of Wisconsin who has 3326 points.
Michigan State had an inspiring performance from Leah O'Connor (Croswell, Mich./Croswell-Lexington) in the women's mile. O'Connor raced tactfully within her preliminary heat, holding with the lead pack and finishing and 4:50.29. The time was good enough for ninth place, taking the last qualifying spot for tomorrow's final.
O'Connor's teammates, Veronica Wilson (Sterling Heights, Mich./Sterling Heights), who ran a personal-best 4:53.11, and Liz Watson ( Lansing, Mich./Lansing Catholic) who ran 4:54.63, finished eleventh and thirteenth, respectively.
The Spartans had a pair of distance sprinters qualify for tomorrow's 600-meter final. Freshman standout Brittany Lewis (Lambton Shores, Ont./St. Clair Secondary) placed third with 1:32.50, while Amelia Bannister (Concord, Mich./Albion) ran solid, placing fourth (1:33.34) overall.
Competing in the men's mile on Saturday after qualifying today will be Josh McAlary (Jackson, Mich./Lumen Christian HS). McAlary stayed mid-pack for the majority of his race, slowly working his way up to finish sixth-overall in 4:07.99.
Another qualifying performance came from freshman DeVantré Whitelow (Centralia, Ill./Centralia) qho won his individual heat and placed third overall with a new personal best of 6.74 in the 60-meter dash.
Sara Kroll (Westland, Mich./Livonia Churchill ) had the best distance performance on the women's side, placing fourth in the 3000 meters with a time of 9:26.38. As the school record-holder in the event, Kroll was in third place for a majority of the race, but was edged in the last 400 meters by Caitlin Lane of Penn State who ran 9:22.18.
In the finals of the women's pole vault, Michigan State's top performer was sixth-place finisher Sarah Birkmeier (Belmont, Mich./Rockford ) with a personal best mark of (3.88m / 12-08 ¾). Teammate Amanda Impellizzeri (Kentwood, Mich./East Kentwood ) was the tenth place finisher with 3.73m (12-02 ¾). For the men, Codi Mattix (Saranac, Mich./Saranac ) placed seventh (5.12m / 16-09 ½) while fellow vaulters Derik Peterman (Livonia, Mich./Winston Churchill) and Cliff Miller (Ann Arbor, Mich./Ann Arbor Huron) tied for eleventh at 4.87m (15-11 ¾).
In the men's 600 meters, Muhammad Sani (Detroit, Mich./Ann Arbor Pioneer) just missed qualification for day two action with a time 1:19.08 (11th place). The last qualifier in the event was Illinois' Zebo Zebe with 1:19.04 (10th).
The Spartan's top performer in the women's shot put was Junior Shatora Lewis (Toledo, Ohio/Scott) who placed seventh with a new personal-best of 15.50m (50-10 ¼).
The Big Ten Indoor Championships continue action tomorrow with the conclusion of the Men's Heptathlon, beginning at 10 a.m. with the 60-meter hurdles.