April 6, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State track & field program hosted the ninth annual Spartan Invitational on Saturday. On a cold and windy day at the Ralph Young Field, the Spartans earned wins in the 4x400-meter relay, along with eight individual wins and eight personal-best performances.
Winning their individual events was Antonio James (shot put), Jacob McFadden (400m hurdles), Austin Wissler (1,500m), Ben Miller (steeplechase), Jarred Gambrell (triple jump), Kurt Schneider (high jump), Leah O'Connor (steeplechase), and Alicia Evans (200m).
Recording personal records in their events were Antonio James (hammer), Chris Hessell (javelin), Keenan Michael (200m), Jarred Gambrell (triple jump), Cliff Miller (pole vault), Alicia Evans (100, 200m), and Chelsea Henderson (javelin).
"Across the board, I feel like we were pretty good," said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "I'm pleased with the way it went, mostly because I'm pleased with the way they chose to compete. With the conditions being what they were, we're not going to see amazing performances, but we can still see amazing competition and I felt like in every event we contested. I felt like we has some kids that had their toe in the water from a commitment standpoint and today, every time I turned around we had people choosing to compete. That's progress because it's contagious. It's important because it sets an emotional tone. With what our expectations are, if they understand that under lousy conditions, you can go to places where there is a higher level of competition and the conditions are better and we're going to see good performances."
Redshirt sophomore Antonio James earned a victory in the shot put competition. He threw an outdoor season-best mark of 17.87m/ 58-7½ to take first-place honors.
"The competition was really good," said James. "I threw 45 feet last time around and I had a lot to prove for this invite. This year I threw 13 feet farther, so I'm really confident with my technique and my training. To be throwing well this early makes me look forward to a lot in the future. If training keeps going well, I'm bound to make big jumps in my throws."
Michigan State gave the competition a one-two punch in the 400-meter hurdles as freshmen Jacob McFadden and David Washington finished first and second, respectively. McFadden earned first-place honors with a time of 55.11, while Washington posted a time of 55.48 to place second.
Redshirt junior Ben Miller finished first in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, recording a time of 9:13.01.
In the 1,500-meter run, sophomore Austin Wissler picked up an individual win with a time of 3:52.04, while redshirt freshman Caleb Rhynard posted a time of 3:53.43 to place third overall in his first collegiate race in the event.
Sophomore Jarred Gambrell earned a win in the triple jump, recording a personal-best mark of 15.29m/ 50-2 to secure the victory.
The Spartans took first through third-place honors in the men's high jump competition. Competing unattached, redshirt senior Kurt Schneider posted a win with a mark of 2.06m/ 6-9, while redshirt senior Kevin Jackson and sophomore Owen Hughes recorded marks of 2.01m/ 6-7 to tie for second.
Redshirt senior Keenan Michael posted a runner-up finish in the 400-meter dash, crossing the finish line in 49.44. He later clocked a personal record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.64 for a second-place finish.
"Keenan was running really well," said Drenth. "It seems like he is making more and more progress. How fast he ran isn't relevant. He won his heat and was the top collegiate runner. The way we went about the competition is something that's really important to our long term growth."
The men's 4x400 relay saw a tight race with Michigan State earning a third-place finish. The team of DeVantré Whitelow, Wallace, redshirt freshman Ryan Haag and sophomore Aaron Hendricks posted a time of 3:21.47.
In the men's hammer throw, which was contested on Friday afternoon, redshirt senior Lonnie Pugh finished third overall with a mark of 59.19m/ 194-2. Turning in a personal record was James who threw a career-best mark of 61.37m/ 201-4 in the prelims.
James and Pugh also finished in the top-three of the discus throw. With another season-best, James threw for a mark of 54.85m/ 179-11 to place second, while Pugh finished third with another season-best mark of 54.78m/ 179-9.
In the javelin, redshirt junior Chris Hessell finished fourth overall with a personal record of 50.43m/ 165-5.
"It's nice to have a meet everyone can throw in," said assistant coach John Newell. "It was good to see the freshman compete today. We had some good things happen, not necessarily in the distances but in the technical changes. When you have less than ideal conditions with 25 mph crosswinds, I knew whatever they were going to do was going to be great."
On the women's side, the Spartans placed two in the top-three of the women's steeplechase. Redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor took first-place honors with a time of 10:35.82, while redshirt freshman Kathleen Landwehr posted a time of 10:59.88 to finish third.
Sophomore Alicia Evans earned a win in the 200-meter dash, recording a personal-best time of 24.16. With a runner-up finish, sophomore Tori Franklin finished 24.20 in her first ever collegiate race in the event.
"It felt good," said Evans. "The weather was not great, but we're going to have a bunch of challenges our way and it's just how we manage ourselves through things like this. There's always room for improvement. I want to work on my starts and finishes to hopefully qualify for nationals."
In the 100-meter dash, freshman Janae Hill finished second with a time of 11.86. With a personal-best time of 11.88, Evans placed third overall.
"Janae Hill came out and beat some good people," Drenth said. "She came out and started to really look like a collegiate 100m runner and someone who we think is going to be really special."
Sophomore Jellisa Westney and redshirt freshman Lauren Lampman both finished in the top-three of the 400-meter dash. Westney clocked a time of 56.39 to place second, while Lampman finished third with a time of 57.59.
In the 1,500-meter run, freshman Alexis Wiersma ran unattached and finished second with a time of 4:36.88. Also placing in the top-three was redshirt senior Rachel McFarlane, crossing the finish line in 4:37.04 to place third.
With an impressive race, the 4x400-meter relay was far ahead of the field to earn an outright victory. The team of Franklin, sophomore Jaelynn Pryor, Lampman and redshirt senior Alysson Bodenbach finished first with a time of 3:45.30.
"They were outstanding," said Drenth, "Trying to sort out who is going to be on that team and knowing that we are going to have multiple options in that relay is really important. They beat good teams; Eastern Michigan has a perennial good 4x400 team. I felt like we dominated a really that are prepared to dominate."
The women's 4x100-meter relay finished second overall. The team of sophomore TeJuanna Williams, Westney, Evans and Hill clocked a time of 46.51.
Two Spartans finished in the top-three in the pole vault competition. Redshirt junior Amanda Impellizzeri placed second with a mark of 4.02m/ 13-2¼, while redshirt sophomore Sarah Birkmeier hit a mark of 3.87m/ 12-8 ¼ to tie for third.
Freshman Shamaz Quince finished third overall in the long jump, turning in a personal-best mark of 5.58m/ 18-3¾.
In the javelin, junior Chelsea Henderson posted a season-best mark of 36.00m/ 118-01 to place third overall.
Next weekend, members of the Michigan State track & field team will travel to Athens, Ga., to compete in the Bulldog Decathlon on April 12 and 13.