April 20, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. – With a new school record, five individual wins and three personal-best performances, the Spartans excelled at three separate meets on Friday. The Michigan State track & field program sent members of the team to compete at the Larry Ellis Invitational in Princeton, N.J., the Jesse Owens Track Classic in Columbus, Ohio, and the EMU Twilight Invitational in Ypsilanti, Mich.
At the home of conference-foe Ohio State, the Spartans competed at the Jesse Owens Track Classic in Columbus, Ohio.
“We raced well,” said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. “I was pleased with the merit in which they engaged in competition. The weather was not great; it was really cold and really windy. We chose to compete and ignored the things that were difficult. I was pleased with that. The men did a really nice job on the track. We had a couple of good wins. Josh (McAlary), Ben (Miller) and Caleb (Rhynard) all did a really nice job. Again, the conditions are terrible, so the way they competed was outstanding. It’s really what we’re going for. We hope for good weather and the opportunity to run really fast. Sometimes, the conditions are not all ours. So you have to default to the one thing that’s important and that is to try and win races and they did. We’ll move forward from here.”
Crossing the finish line first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, redshirt junior Ben Miller posted a season-best time of 9:06.82. Redshirt freshman Caleb Rhynard took first-place honors in the 5,000-meter run, clocking a winning time of 14:14.08. Also earning an individual win was redshirt senior Josh McAlary who finished first in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 3:47.49.
Setting a new Michigan State record, redshirt sophomore Antonio James improved his personal best in the discus throw for the second-straight meet. He was the top collegiate finisher, throwing for a career-best mark of 59.78m/ 196-1. James is currently third in the Big Ten and fifth in the NCAA East Region in the discus.
“We had an exceptional performance from A.J. (Antonio James),” said Drenth. “He broke the school record and beat some really good people. I was really pleased with his progress. He just continues a meteoric rise with the way he competes.”
Placing in the top-three of the women’s discus throw, redshirt senior Beth Rohl hit a mark of 51.07m/ 167-7 to finish third. Recording a personal record in the event was junior Kaylee Finney who placed fifth overall with a career-best mark of 47.31m/ 155-2.
“Kaylee had a two-meter personal record, which we were really excited about,” said Drenth. “That gets her closer to a regional qualifying mark.”
For the farthest meet of the weekend, four members of the women’s track & field team traveled to the Larry Ellis Invitational at Princeton University.
“The meet went really well,” said assistant coach Lisa Senakiewich. “This is their first year coming out here and we based it on the results we saw the previous year. I think when you go this far away to a new meet, the goal is to compete and compete well. I think the women went in with that mind set.”
Redshirt sophomore Leah O’Connor won the 3,000-meter steeplechase, clocking a season-best time of 10:09.76. Her winning time would move her into first in the Big Ten rankings.
“Leah started the day of in the steeplechase,” said Senakiewich. “She ran great. After the first 400-meters, she took the lead and led the whole way. It was a solid field and I think it signifies that she’s ready for some bigger races and that she is going to run well at the right time. She ran 10:09, which is phenomenal considering she was running by herself (for MSU). So that was really exciting.”
The Spartans placed three in the top-10 of the 5,000-meter run. Leading MSU was redshirt senior Rachel McFarlane, who recorded a time of 16:36.48 to place fifth. Close behind was redshirt freshman Lindsay Clark who recorded a career-best time of 16:38.00 to finish sixth overall, followed by junior Sara Kroll in ninth with a time of 16:46.09.
“The women in the 5K competed so well,” Senakiewich said. “They were really patient and very persistent throughout the race, running with poise. Even if the times don’t necessarily reflect how well their race went, as a coach, you really can’t ask for anything more with the way they handled themselves in the race and being very mature.”
Closer to home, MSU was also represented at the EMU Twilight Invitational in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Redshirt junior Liana Eckert took home and individual win in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:08.11. With a runner-up finish in the event, redshirt junior Meggan Freeland recorded a time of 11:13. 35. Also placing in the top-five of the men’s steeplechase was redshirt freshman Chris Collier posted a time of 9:52.05 to place fourth overall.
The Spartans will continue competition at the Jesse Owens Track Classic and the EMU Twilight Invitational on Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m.