April 5, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Welcoming close to 1,200 competitors, the Michigan State track & field program hosted the 2014 Spartan Invitational on Friday and Saturday. The Spartans won a total of 11 events at their only home meet of the season, along with posting personal-best performances in a showcase at Ralph Young Field, Munn Field and Jenison Field House.
"It's always important to host a home meet when we don't get many," said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "For many of, it really gets the season started. We took a nice group to North Carolina last week, but we have some young people who needed to get started today. We talk about the importance of choosing to be competitive, engaging in the competition and for all practical purposes, I think we've done that across the board today.
"We competed well. We purposefully put people in different events at this particular meet and we give our young athletes a chance to step up in a little more competitive environment. That's one of the reasons we have the home meet as well - to see how they compete under pressure. The stakes are a little different this time of year for track & field, we don't typically score meets this early. So we're just trying to find out who's making progress and how training is going. We had a really hard week last week. We were fortunate to get some good weather earlier in the week, so we all decided to take advantage of the good weather and do some outdoor training which meant we were going to be a little thin with our top kids and be conservative with them."
Redshirt junior Sarah Birkmeier won the pole vault en route to earning an NCAA regional qualifying mark of 4.15m/ 13-7¼, tying her career high. Also hitting a personal-mark of 4.05m/ 13-3½ was redshirt sophomore Lauren Chorny to also qualify for the regional meet.
MSU swept the men's pole vault competition with freshman Tim Ehrhardt taking the win with a jump of 4.95m/ 16-2¾, tying his personal-best mark. Redshirt senior Codi Mattix placed second with the same mark, but in more attempts and was followed by freshman Tim Canfield with a personal-best jump of 4.80m/ 15-9.
The MSU women earned the top-three finishes in the 800-meter run as redshirt junior Leah O'Connor was first to cross the finish line with a career-best time of 2:08.02. Also running a personal record was redshirt junior Sara Kroll who placed second with a time of 2:12.16, while redshirt sophomore Sara Stassen finished third with her career-best time of 2:13.02.
Three Spartans finished in the top-five of the men's 800-meter run beginning with a runner-up finish from redshirt freshman Sherod Hardt (1:55.66), followed by redshirt senior Ben Miller and redshirt sophomore Ryan Haag.
The Spartan women also dominated the 1,500-meter run, led by redshirt senior Julia Otwell in first place with a career-best time of 4:28.05. Also posting a personal-best time of 4:31.78 was redshirt sophomore Katie Landwehr in second, while redshirt freshman Alexis Wiersma finished third with a time of 4:31.96. Redshirt junior Angela Swain clocked a personal-best time of 4:33.37 to place fourth overall. In the men's race, redshirt freshman finished second overall with a time of 3:56.03.
Redshirt sophomore Connor Kostrezewa won the men's hammer throw, hitting a career-best mark of 59.76m/196-1. He was followed by redshirt junior Antonio James in second, posting a mark of 56.26m/ 184-7, while redshirt freshman Vincens Gjokaj finished fifth with a mark of 53.11m/ 174-3.
Winning the event for the second-straight week, James finished first in the men's discus throw with a throw of 58.37m/ 191-6. Stepping up to a fifth-place finish was Gjokaj with a career-best mark of 49.18m/ 161-4. Adding another win, James finished first in the shot put with a mark of 17.83m/ 58-6. He was followed by redshirt senior Chris Hessell in fourth with a mark of15.91m/ 52-2½, while redshirt sophomore Jake Bennett hit a mark of 15.70m/ 51-6¼ for fifth-place overall.
Junior Alicia Evans raced away to a first-place finish in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.48, while freshman Cierra Pryor placed second with a time of 25.65. Placing fifth was senior Ashley Stacey with a time of 26.12. Senior Ross Parsons finished second in the men's 200-meter dash with a time of 22.51.
Redshirt senior Kurt Schneider won the high jump, hitting a mark of 2.06m/ 6-9. He tied with junior Owen Hughes, who jumped the same mark, but in more attempts. In the women's high jump, sophomore Adeline Grier-Welch placed fourth with a jump of 1.63m/ 5-4¼. In her event debut, junior Kelsey Kuipers placed fifth with a height of 1.58m/ 5-2¼.
David Washington finished first in the men's 400m hurdles with a time of 52.73. Connor Caporale finished third with a time of 55.86. Meanwhile, junior Lindsey Seymour finished fourth in the women's 400-meter dash with a time of 1:00.05.
With an individual win in the 100-meter hurdles, freshman Nadia Lorencz was first to cross the finish line in 16.10. She also finished third in the women's long jump with a jump of 5.19m/ 17-0½.
In the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, redshirt junior Monica Randall finished fifth with a career-best time of 11:37.37. Senior Chelsea Henderson turned in a runner-up finish in the women's javelin, throwing for a mark of 33.84m/ 111-0. Redshirt senior Kaylee Finney finished third in the women's discus with a throw of 46.38m/ 152-2. Freshman Reggie Ferrell finished third in the men's long jump with a jump of 6.53m/ 21-5¼.
The Spartans will head south next weekend as MSU travels to Athens, Ga., for the Spec Towns Invitational on Friday, April 11 and Saturday April 12.