Track & Field
Spartans Kick Off Outdoor Season Strong at Raleigh Relays
March 29, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. – Caleb Rhynard broke the MSU record in the 5,000-meter, Antonio James won the discus and Katie Landwehr won the steeplechase to kick off the start of the outdoor season for the Michigan State track & field team at the Raleigh Relays on Saturday at N.C. State.
“You come here with high expectations,” said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. “We were a little flat. Going from indoors to outdoors with the weather that we’ve had is a little difficult. You have to adjust for wind and different conditions; those things take time. The distance runners and the throwers have been outside, and I think that was an advantage for them. Some if it’s just the right attitude. The group that had success today chose to do what we ask them to do at every meet and that’s engage in the competition. I know we’ve got some growing to do. We need to get some work in. As much as it is still March, it’s a short season. We are six weeks away from the conference meet, so it’s time to start building some momentum.”
In the fastest section of the men’s 5,000-meter, redshirt sophomore Caleb Rhynard broke a 37-year old MSU record by running a time of 13:49.60 to place third overall. In the same section, redshirt freshmen Garret Zuke (14:23.55) and Sherod Hardt (14:25.24) finished 19th and 20th, respectively. Redshirt freshman Nick Soter finished sixth in his section of the 5,000-meter, clocking a time of 14:22.81.
“The men’s 5,000-meter was good,” Drenth said. “Caleb (Rhynard) was outstanding. Coming off the nationals and to try to rev it back up, I thought he did an outstanding job. Sherod (Hardt), Garrett (Zuk) and Nick (Soter) did a great job. For their first 5,000 on the track ever, I thought they raced well, never threw the towel in and they will make a lot of progress over the coming weeks.”
Just over a foot away from breaking his personal and school record, redshirt junior Antonio James won the discus competition with a mark of 59.45m/ 195-0. He also finished third overall in the shot put, hitting a mark of 17.18m/ 56-4½.
“A.J. (Antonio James) started by throwing only a foot shorter than his personal best in the discus,” said Drenth. “It was a tremendous performance. He came out a little flat in the shot, but the fact that we haven’t been able to throw consistently outside has been pretty tough. He did a nice job.”
Redshirt sophomore Katie Landwehr won the fastest heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, running a personal-best time of 10:19.85. It is currently the second-best time in the nation.
“Katie Landwehr ran a substantial personal best,” Drenth said. “She put herself in legitimate contention to score at the conference meet, but not only that, I think she will keep getting faster and have a chance to make the NCAA final.”
Two Spartans place in the top-eight in the 5,000-meter run as redshirt sophomore Lindsay Clark (16:09.93) and redshirt junior Julia Otwell (16:10.95) turned in significant personal records to place sixth and seventh, respectively. Redshirt junior Sara Kroll clocked a time of 16:20.51 to place 13th, while redshirt freshman Alexis Wiersma finished 17th with a time of 16:26.99.
“The women in the 5,000-meter run really embraced the whole idea of the competition,” said Drenth. “Julia Otwell had a huge personal best. Lindsay Clark did some exceptional running. They’re giving themselves a legitimate chance to advance to the NCAA with their racing and training. Sara Kroll made huge progress from the [indoor] conference meet. I really believe she is starting to figure herself back out again. I was really pleased. To see Ali Wiersma run as well as she did, I was really excited about that. She ran a substantial personal record, probably 10 seconds or so.”
Finishing third overall, redshirt junior Melanie Brender clocked a time of 34:32.10 in the 10,000-meter race to put herself among the best in the nation. In his first 10,000-meter race of his career, redshirt junior Ben Carruthers finished seventh overall with a time of 29.30.99.
“In the 10,000, I think Melanie Brender was third overall and the second collegiate,” said Drenth. “So she is one of the faster collegiate runners in the country right now. She had a really exceptional run. It was a really good group of college runners and to be in the top-three, I thought she did an outstanding job. Also, Ben Carruthers ran 29:30 which has got to be in the top-10 list for MSU all-time. It was just his first 10,000 ever.”
In the pole vault, freshman Tim Ehrhardt placed third overall with a mark of 4.95m/ 16-2¾. Redshirt senior Codi Mattix was close to follow in seventh place with a mark of 4.75/15-7. With the same mark, freshman Tim Canfield won his section of the event. With a fourth-place finish in the men’s high jump, redshirt senior Kurt Schneider kicked off his outdoor season by posting a mark of 2.10m/6-10¾.
Senior Ashley Stacey finished third overall in the long jump, posting a mark of 6.07m/19-11. She also ran a personal best in the 100-meter dash, clocking a time of 12.29 to place 45th overall. Tying for seventh overall in the high jump, sophomore Adeline Grier-Welch turned a career-best outdoor mark of 1.70m/5-7.
In the women’s 1,500-meter, redshirt junior Angela Swain took first-place honors with a time of 4:34.77, while redshirt sophomore Sara Stassen turned in a career-best time of 4:34.45 to place 32nd in the invite.
Redshirt senior Ben Miller clocked a time of 9:13.63 in section A of the 3,000-meter steeplechase to place seventh overall, while sophomore Chris Collier won his section with a career-best time of 9:16.16.
“Tomorrow is a big day for us,” Drenth said. “The sprinters today ran sprint medleys, but we didn’t do a ton of stuff and tomorrow they need to come out here and have a day. We talked about it after the indoor season – they need to get better, they’re good enough to be better. So I’m excited to see how they’re going to engage. Tomorrow will be a good litmus test for the sprints group, and I’m sure they’re going to rise to the occasion.”
The Spartans will be back in action tomorrow, Saturday, March 29 with running events beginning at 8:30 a.m. at N.C. State.
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