March 29, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Spartans had a strong opening day as the Michigan State track & field team began the outdoor portion of the 2013 schedule at the Raleigh Relays on Friday. Held on the campus of NC State University, MSU was highlighted by a strong group of distance races, field events and the men's and women's 1,600-meter sprint medley relays.
"I thought we kind of got off to a slow start, just getting the kinks out," said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "But it felt like as the day went, it started to get better. I thought Beth Rohl did a typically good job with the discus. Our sprint medley relays did a really nice job. We were running two teams on the men's side and they really competed well. The women's 400-meter runners did a great job of engaging. Even some of the young freshmen men quarter-mile runners did a nice job. When we went to the evening sections of the distance events, they did exceptionally well. We really didn't have a bad race from the 1,500-meter runs through the 5,000-meters. In the big scheme of things, I think the whole thing went pretty well for us. We're looking forward to getting going tomorrow with the relays and Beth, Lonnie (Pugh) and A.J. ( Antonio James) with the hammer. I feel like if we compete tomorrow the way we finished the second half of today, it will be a great meet for us."
Redshirt senior Keenan Michael led the Spartans in the 400-meter run, placing 19th overall with a time of 48.53.
With a runner-up finish in the first section of the 1,500-meter run, redshirt senior Josh McAlary turned a time of 3:45.04. Redshirt junior Ben Miller posted a career-best time of 3:49.14 to place seventh overall.
Redshirt freshman Caleb Rhynard was the top finisher for the Spartans in the 5,000-meter run as he posted a 13:57.99 to place 10th in his first collegiate race in the event. Also representing for the distance group was redshirt sophomore David Madrigal who finished 18th with a time of 14:24.07.
"The highlight of the night was the men's 5,000-meter," Drenth said. "Caleb Rhynard ran 13:57, which for a freshman is probably a freshman record. It's not that far off of the school record. For a young guy, I just thought he did an exceptional job."
In the 1,600-meter sprint relay, Michigan State put two relays in the top-10. The team of sophomore DeVantré Whitelow, freshman Jibril Mims, freshman Jacob McFadden and freshman Brandon Wallace placed sixth with a time of 3:26.68. Less than a second behind was the team of freshman Austin Sanders, sophomore Aaron Hendricks, freshman Stephon Foster and redshirt freshman Ryan Haag that turned in a time of 3:27.06 to finish seventh overall.
Redshirt senior Lonnie Pugh opened the outdoor season placing second overall in the men's discus throw. He posted a mark of 53.09m/ 174-2 in the finals of the event. Finishing in 11th place was teammate Antonio James who recorded a mark of 47.95m/ 157-4. Rounding out the Spartans in the event was Connor Kostrzewa threw for a mark of 44.22m/ 145-1 to place him 20th overall.
James later won his flight in the shot put competition to first overall in the event. He threw for a mark of 17.07m/ 56-0 to take the victory.
"A.J didn't have a very good discus, so it was important for him to come back and improve in the shot and get some momentum back, " said Drenth. "It's hard when you've gone to nationals and had such a long season. To get the momentum back and get back in training, it's a little bit different."
Redshirt senior James Nixon scored a top-five finish in the pole vault as posted a mark of 4.85m/ 15-11 to place fourth overall. Also competing in the event was freshman Jaime Salisbury who finished in 10th place with a mark of 4.60m/ 15-1.
The Spartans placed two in the top-10 of the men's high jump competition as sophomore Owen Hughes finished in seventh place with a mark of 2.05m/ 6-8¾ and redshirt senior Kevin Jackson recorded a 2.00m/ 6-6¾ to tie for eighth overall.
On the women's side, Michigan State was well represented in the 400-meter run, earning three top-20 finishes in the event. The Spartans were led by sophomore Tori Franklin who posted a fourth-place finish with a time of 54.75 in her first collegiate run in the event. She was followed by sophomore Alicia Evans who finished 11th with a time of 55.53, while redshirt senior Alysson Bodenbach clocked a 55.59 for 17th overall.
Sophomore TeJuanna Williams was the top MSU finisher in the women's 100-meter prelims, recording a personal-best time of 11.93 (3.9 wind) to finish in 18th. She was followed by sophomore Jellisa Westney who placed 23rd with her career-best time of 11.97 (1.5 wind).
Shaving four full seconds off of her personal record, redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor finished the first section of the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:20.75. Teammate Sara Kroll clocked a time of 4:27.86 to place 15th overall.
"The 1,500s went well," said Drenth. "Leah O'Connor took the national champion to the wire. She ran a pretty substantial personal best. I thought Sarah Kroll ran well, too."
Redshirt freshman Kathleen Landwehr finished third overall in the first section of the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:41.31.
"Katie Landwehr had an incredible first run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, especially for a freshman," Drenth said. "I was really excited for her."
The Spartans then turned in two top-10 finishes in the second section of the steeplechase as redshirt junior Liana Eckert placed third with a time of 11:04.40 and redshirt junior Megan Freeland posted a time of 11.21.07 to finish ninth.
Also representing for the distance group was the 5,000-meter runners. In her first race in the event of her collegiate career, redshirt senior Rachel McFarlane finished first for the Spartans in10th place with a time of 16:29.74. Redshirt sophomore Megan Rodgers posted a personal-best time of 16:41.57 to place 17th, while redshirt freshman Lindsay Clark finished 18th with a time of 16:41.93. Also competing in the event for the Spartans was redshirt junior Olivia Sydow who recorded a career-best time of 16:48.67 to place 21st overall.
"The women's 5,000 went really well," Drenth said. "We had a number of people run personal-bests. Rachel McFarlane ran her first 5,000 and had a really good run. She was very competitive and really started to get a good sense of that race, which is hard thing to do."
Competing in the second section of the 5,000-meter was redshirt sophomore Melanie Brender who placed sixth with a time of 16:45.43.
The highlight of the day for the women was the runner-up finish for the 1,500-meter sprint medley relay. The team of Bodenbach, sophomore Jaelynn Pryor, redshirt freshman Lauren Lampman and sophomore Lindsey Seymour crossed the finish line in 4:00.54 to place second overall.
Redshirt senior Beth Rohl took first-place honors in the discus throw as she posted a mark of 52.53m/ 172-04. Rounding out the Spartans in the event was redshirt senior Kelsey Prena, who threw for 44.03m/ 144-05 to place ninth, while teammate Kaylee Finney finished 11th with a mark of 43.42m/ 142-05. In the women's shot put, Prena finished 17th overall with a mark of 12.82m/ 42-0¾.
In the first section of the long jump, junior Ashley Stacey turned in a third-place finish with a mark of 6.07m/ 19-11 (0.8 wind). Quince recorded a career-best mark of 5.52m/ 18-1½ (0.4 wind) to place sixth overall in the second section of the long jump. MSU saw another freshman place in the top-10 as Adeline Grier-Welch hit a mark of 1.60m/ 5-3 in the high jump to finish in seventh.
The Spartans will be back in action on day two of the Raleigh Relays with the track events on a running schedule beginning at 10:15 a.m. and the field events set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 30.