March 29, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. – The Michigan State track & field team capped off the opening weekend of the outdoor season as the Spartans turned in several strong performances at the Raleigh Relays on Saturday. Ashley Stacy won the triple jump and Antonio James earned a personal-best mark in the hammer to conclude the first outdoor meet of the season at N.C. State.
“I thought it went pretty well,” said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. “We got a lot of work done. The weather helped out; we had rain but no inclement weather. There were some pretty positive things. Overall, it’s a good place to start. We put a lot of time and effort into this meet getting down here with a lot of people and it has to be productive and I think it was. I thought we started kind of slow, outside of A.J. yesterday, but I thought we did a good job of picking up steam as the meet went on. I thought we did a nice job last night with the distance runners and I thought our momentum held today which is important.
“We were definitely competitive. We had presence. A sign of a good team is when they start announcing who’s in the top-three of events and we had a presence in nearly every event we contested, whether it be the throws or the jumps or on the track. So from my standpoint, we got a lot of this. We’ve got a lot of growing to do, but we’ve got some time. I’m certain the people who I feel like had more in them will figure it out. I’ve got a great coaching staff and they’ll get everybody going.”
Senior Ashley Stacey took home an individual win in the triple jump, posting a mark of 12.80m/42-0.
“To me, who really stood out was Ashley Stacey in the triple jump,” Drenth said. “She was in 100 and the 4x100, so she had a busy day and to come out and have her best jump be her last is a sign of character and growth from her.”
With a runner-up finish in the hammer throw, redshirt junior Antonio James hit a personal-best mark of 64.51m/ 211-08. Redshirt freshman Vincens Gjokaj tied his career-high mark of 56.79m/186-4 to place sixth overall.
“A.J. (Antonio James) came back and hit a three-meter personal best in the hammer to finish second,” said Drenth. “64-meters this time of year is really good and there will be a lot of growth. The young hammer throwers also did a nice job, particular Vinny (Gjokaj). He had a substantial personal best, competed well and ended up in the finals.”
In the men’s triple jump, junior Jarred Gambrell finished third overall with a mark of 14.98m/ 49-1¾.
Sophomore David Washington turned in a career-best time of 52.84 in the 400-meter hurdles, good for 11th overall. Junior Jellisa Westney finished seventh overall in the 200-meter dash, clocking a time of 24.28.
The Spartans finished fourth and fifth in the women’s 4x100-meter relay. The team of freshman Lauren Rose, Westney and juniors Alicia and TeJuanna Williams posted a time of 46.08 to place fourth, while the team of sophomore Janae Hill, junior Tori Franklin, freshman Ciera Pryor and junior Ashley Stacey finished fifth with a time of 46.18.
MSU also placed fourth in the 4x200-meter relay as the women’s team of Evans, Rose, senior Jaelynn Pryor and Williams recorded a time of 1:38.12.
“I thought Lauren Rose did a nice job of coming back,” Drenth said. “She didn’t run very well yesterday in the hurdles, but I thought she did well today coming back with her leg in the 4x100. She just competed throughout the day; a long day. Jellisa (Westney) was very good throughout. She had a lot to do today.”
“Our sprint group got a lot done, so hopefully the dividends will pay off soon,” said Drenth. “I thought we a pretty nice job in a number of places. They really had a busy day with all the relays; that’s a lot of running in one day, especially this early. Our challenge wasn’t really how fast they would run, but how they would compete and I thought we did well. We had good opening marks in the 4x100. The guys ran a 4x100 that is better than we’ve ran in a number of years. So I was pleased with that. A lot of kids stepped up and competed, especially on the track, today. I thought that David Washington was good. It was nice to see Ross Parsons in uniform get going a little bit. Austin Sanders had a decent day. His leg cramped up in the 200, but I thought he ran pretty well in the 4x100.”
In the 4x800-meter relay, the team of freshman Erin Billette, senior Angela Swain, redshirt sophomore Sara Stassen and redshirt junior Devan John placed fifth overall with a time of 8:56.48. With a third-place finish, the 4x800-meter men’s relay team of sophomore Brandon Wallace, sophomore Ed Clifton, redshirt sophomores Eric Buday and Ryan Haag posted a time of 7:37.02.
Recording a third-place finish in the pole vault, freshman Hannah Sailar posted a mark of 3.85m/12-7½. Close behind was junior Kassie Powell in sixth place with a mark of 3.75m/ 12-3½, while redshirt sophomore Sarah Birkmeier (3.65m/11-11¾) and redshirt sophomore Lauren Chorny (3.50m/ 11-5¾) finished eighth and tenth, respectively.
“I think Hannah (Sailar) did a decent job with her first time outside, but I think the others probably weren’t as good as they can be,” Drenth said. “I think you kind of get lost in a meet like this and think primarily how high can I jump or the conditions need to be perfect because it’s supposed to be warm. But it doesn’t always work out like that. Hannah did well because she’s just a competitor. I was pleased with the way Kassie (Powell) looked.”
Next weekend, Michigan State will host the annual Spartan Invitational at the Ralph Young Track and Field Facility on April 4 and 5.