March 14, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Antonio James broke his own school record and Keith Schneider set a new NCAA meet record on the first day of competition at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships on the campus of University of New Mexico.
Placing fourth overall, redshirt junior Antonio James broke his own school record with a throw of 22.42m/73-6¾.
"AJ competed very well," said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "It was a nice bounce back from the conference meet in the weight. He seems to have himself back in sync. He battled back and forth for third place and was even in second for a while. This is the height of competition for us and I thought he was fantastic. He was very competitive in a stressful environment and to come out and be better than you've been all year or frankly ever, is quite a testament. It's a testament to the coaching. Coach (Blaine) Maag has done a great job with him. It's also a testament to someone who really understands how to behave in this highly-intense competitive environment."
Redshirt senior Kurt Schneider capped off the first day of competition in the heptathlon with a win in the high jump, tying his career-high mark of 2.15m/7-½. He and Pau Tonneson of Arizona shared the mark, but Tonneson in more attempts, to set the new NCAA Championship meet record in the multi-event. Earlier in the day, he finished sixth in the 60-meter dash competition as he posted a time of 7.07. In the shot put, Schneider finished 10th as he threw for a mark of 12.79m/41-11½. He also placed 10th overall in the long jump with a mark of 7.08m/23-2¾.
"Kurt had a fantastic first day," Drenth said. He's right on pace. He was just a hair off on a couple of events, but then came back to be a co-meet record holder for the high jump in the heptathlon. That's quite something. He had excellent attempts at the next bar, so as we move forward into outdoors, he's really performing well. In his second day, he'll hurdle well. If he can pole vault decently, he'll have a decent shot to get onto the podium. I thought he did a nice job of handling the ups and downs and finishing the day with an exceptional high jump. It hopefully builds some nice momentum for his events tomorrow."
Qualifying for the final in the mile, redshirt junior Leah O'Connor clocked a time of 4:43.06 to place seventh overall and advance.
"Leah was exceptional," Drenth said. "She managed herself well. Looking at the meet as a whole, the mile is incredibly competitive on the women's side. She acted like a seasoned vet. She was poised. She got banged around a little bit and never really lost her poise. When they started to run, she was every bit up to the task. There's only one prize today if you're in a preliminary and that's to get to the final tomorrow. We'll see how it turns out. I thought she ran a really savvy race, so I'm excited to see how she'll do."
The Spartans will be back in action tomorrow, Saturday March 15. Kurt Schneider will complete the heptathlon, while Tori Franklin compete in the triple jump, Antonio James in the shot put, as well as Caleb Rhynard and Rachele Schulist in the 3,000-meter.