April 11, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Spartans showed progress on Friday as members of the MSU track & field team opened up weekend competition at the 2014 Tennessee Relays in Knoxville, Tenn. Vincens Gjokaj (discus) and Codi Mattix (pole vault) each earned individual event wins to kick off the weekend strong for Michigan State.
“Obviously, the objective coming down here is to try to get a few more regional qualifiers and build on momentum,” said assistant coach Randy Gillon. “There’s no secret to the kind of winter we’ve had, so coming down here to 70 degree weather and to SEC country really gives us an opportunity to compete at a high level. We saw that in some pockets.”
Earning his first collegiate win, redshirt freshman Vincens Gjokaj hit a personal best mark of 53.46m/ 175-5 to earn first-place honors in the discus.
“I was excited to see Vinny in the discus,” Gillon said. “He dropped a bomb on his first throw, and really set the mark for the competition and put a lot of pressure on the competitors and not one was able to respond. I think it is a regional qualifying mark and a PR, and more importantly a win. To come this meet here and walk away with a ‘W’ it outstanding. It was some stout competition, but he went into the ring unafraid and laid down a monster throw on his first attempt and made it difficult for the rest of the competition. We’re extremely excited for the young Spartan and what lies ahead.”
Redshirt senior Codi Mattix won his first outdoor event since 2011, hitting a season-high mark of 5.00m/ 16-4¾ in the fewest attempts to beat out the competition. Sophomore Jamie Salisbury finished fourth with his season-best mark of 4.90m/ 16-0¾. In the women’s event, redshirt sophomore Lauren Chorny led the Spartans with a runner-up finish with a mark of 4.00m/ 13-1½. She was followed by junior Kassie Powell, who hit a personal record of the same mark, but in more attempts, to place third.
“I thought the vaulters had a good day,” said Gillon. “Kassie Powell had a PR and Lauren Chorny had a solid day. Jamie (Salisbury) and Codi (Mattix) is starting to get some momentum. Coach Creekmur is really excited about the progress the group has made.”
In the 100-meter dash, junior Jellisa Westney paced the Spartans with an eighth-place finish with a time of 11.81. Junior TeJuanna Williams finished 19th overall with season-best time of 12.03, while sophomore Janae Hill clocked a time of 12.10 to place 24th. In his first 100-meter race of the season, junior Ross Parsons crossed the finish line in 10.85 to finish 15th. Parsons also finished ninth overall in the 200-meter dash, recording a season-best time of 21.56.
Placing third overall in the 200-meter dash, junior Alicia Evans clocked a season-best time of 23.73. Williams posted a time of 24.36 to place 11th overall, while freshman Ciera Pryor earned a season-best time of 25.57 to finish 37th. Evans also finished in the top 10 of the 400-meter dash, posting a time of 56.34 to place ninth. Racing in the 400-meter dash for the first time in their Spartan careers, junior DeVantré Whitelow recorded a time of 49.23 to finish 18th, while sophomore Austin Sanders placed 25th with a time of 49.92.
“With the sprint group, we got some things done,” Gillon said. “Alicia (Evans) just narrowly missed her PR and running a time that will more than likely qualify her for the first round of regionals with a 23.73 in the 200. Her PR is 23.70. She did a really great job and I’m really proud of the way she carried herself. TeJuanna Williams, in her first 200 of the season I thought she did a very good job with that. I thought Ross Parsons is continuing on his road to recovery and slowly starting to find his form. He had a solid day. We’re still coming back from his surgery that cost him the indoor season, but I thought he did a good job.”
Freshman Lauren Rose clocked a personal record in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing fifth overall with a time of 14.10. Representing the Spartans in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, redshirt senior Kurt Schneider recorded a career-best time of 14.80 to finish ninth overall.
In the triple jump, junior Jarred Gambrell finished fourth by improving his season-best mark to 15.24m/ 50-0. Redshirt junior Antonio James turned in a fifth-place finish in the shot put, hitting a mark of 18.56m/ 60-10¾.
On Thursday, the Spartan throwers competed in the hammer throw. Redshirt junior Antonio James (61.57m/202-0) led the group with a sixth place finish, while Connor Kostrzewa (56.05m/183-11) and Gjokaj (55.94m/183-6) placed 11th and 13th, respectively.
“All in all, we’re trying to prep ourselves for Big Tens,” said Gillon. “Coach Drenth continues to challenge us as a staff and as a team to continue to seek more, step out of our comfort zone and pursue greatness and we’re doing our due diligence to meet the challenge and measure up.”
The Spartans will travel to Columbus, Ohio, next weekend as they compete in the Jesse Owens Track & Field Invitational on April 18 and 19.