April 13, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Led by a 10-foot personal record from redshirt sophomore Antonio James and two career-best performances from sophomore Jellisa Westney, Michigan State wrapped up competition at the Spec Towns National Team Track & Field Invitational on Saturday in Athens, Ga. On the second and final day of competition at the meet hosted by the University of Georgia, the Spartans turned in six personal best performances and one individual win.
In addition to a win from Beth Rohl (discus throw), posting personal-records in their events were James (discus), Westney (100m and 200m), Alicia Evans (200m), Alysson Bodenbach (200m) and Janae Hill (200m).
"It was a day of ups and downs," said assistant coach Randy Gillon. "It was a great opportunity for the sprinters, jumpers and throwers to come down to a very ideal climate up against some very stiff competition in every area and measure ourselves against the nation's best. The meet did not disappoint. We saw a few national leading marks on the track and it lived up to what we expected it to be. We came down here to do a lot of things. We had a bunch of season bests and personal records. To be able to hit these kind of marks on this kind of stage is only going to help us on our quest to be a champion. These young men and women are putting themselves in the position to score at the Big Tens and that's what its all about."
Improving his personal best by 10 feet in the men's discus throw, redshirt sophomore Antonio James turned in a big personal record of 58.04m/ 190-5 for a runner-up finish. The mark surpassed that of the 2012 Big Ten discus champion and moves him into the No. 3 spot in the conference rankings.
"A.J. (Antonio James) made a lot of progress," Gillon said. "He had a strong meet. He's all over the place with the shot, hammer and discus and he kept on rallying. He made progress and he is going to be right where he needs to be when it comes time for the conference meet."
Posting a career-best time in the 100-meter dash, Westney clocked a time of 11.83 to place seventh overall. She also turned in a personal record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.10.
"Jellisa had a great meet, probably her best as a collegiate athlete," Gillon said. "She ran two personal bests and had a great leg on both the relays."
Rohl posted her second win in two days, recording a mark of 51.87m/ 170-2 to earn first-place honors in the discus throw.
"Beth won both the hammer and the discus," said Gillon. "Although she may not have had the marks she would have liked, to come into this kind of environment and win, is probably as good as throwing far."
The Spartans improved their season-best time in the 4x100-meter relay. The team of sophomores TeJuanna Williams, Westney, sophomore Alicia Evans and freshman Janae Hill posted a time of 45.39 to place third overall and move them into second in the Big Ten.
"The 4x100 relay came out swinging," said Gillon. "They had a season-best time that will probably qualify them for the (NCAA) regional meet."
For the second meet in a row, Evans improved her personal record in the 200-meter dash. She recorded a career-best time of 24.00 to secure the No. 5 spot in the Big Ten. In the 400-meter dash, Evans crossed the finish line in a season-best time of 55.52 to place eighth.
Redshirt senior Keenan Michael placed fifth in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 52.84. James finished sixth in the shot put with a mark of 16.69m/ 54-9¼.
Also placing in the top-eight, sophomore Jarred Gambrell hit a mark of 7.02m/ 23-0½ to finish seventh in the long jump. Finishing sixth in the women's long jump, junior Ashley Stacey posted a mark of 5.95m/ 19-6¼.
"Coach (Vanitta) Kinnard has done a tremendous job of keeping the kids focused and mentally prepared," said Gillon. "On day one we saw a series of personal records from Jarred, Ashley and Tori in the triple jump. They each had a great series, especially coming off of a late night getting here. They still managed to get themselves together and have a great showing. Ashley had a great meet and series of jumps that will help her hit those big marks in the future."
Big Ten and NCAA East Regional leader in the triple jump, sophomore Tori Franklin posted a winning mark of 13.13m/ 43-1 on Friday. Stacey (No. 3 in the Big Ten) and Gambrell (No. 4 in the Big Ten) also turned in personal-bests in Friday's triple jump competition with marks of 12.66m/ 41-6½ and 15.34m/ 50-4, respectively.
"There were lot of good things at this meet," Gillon said. "We still have work to do and we saw that today. We'll go back to the track on Monday and make the necessary adjustments so that when we head off to Jesse Owens or Eastern, we'll be ready to make greater steps forward."
Next weekend, Michigan State will split competition at the Jesse Owens Track Classic in Columbus, Ohio, the EMU Twilight Invitational in Ypsilanti, Mich., and Polytan Invitational in Bloomington, Ind. Events will be held on Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20.