Spartans Show Depth at Jesse Owens Track Classic
Evans and Wilberding lead MSU with individual wins to wrap up weekend competition.
April 19, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State track & field closed out the weekend strong on Saturday at the Jesse Owens Track Classic in Columbus, Ohio. The Spartans added depth in preparation for the conference meet, notching two event wins and showing progress with seven personal-best performances.
"I was pleased, I felt like we had some decent momentum," said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "I thought we made progress. Overall, you want to see a good effort from start to finish and I thought we picked up some momentum today. We got a little more depth out of our women sprinters. I was just pleased with our whole approach to things. I thought it was a good meet for us in terms of our competitive level and I thought we were up to the challenge. I've got no complaints. I thought it went alright. I think we're seeing some depth with more than one person in an event.
The Spartans gave the competition a one-two punch in the women's 200-meter dash, as juniors Alicia Evans and Jellisa Westney finished first and second, respectively. Evans had a breakthrough to earn a career-best time of 23.58, while Westney barely missed her personal record but posted a season-best time of 23.69.
In the women's 400-meter dash, Evans turned in a runner-up finish with a season-best time of 55.20, the top time on the team this season. Breaking under the minute mark for the first time this season, junior Lindsey Seymour finished 22nd with a season-best time of 58.58.
Evans and freshman Lauren Rose both finished in the top-five in the women's 100-meter dash, placing third and fourth, respectively. Just barely missing her personal record, Evans clocked a time of 11.75, while Rose crossed the finish line in 11.82 in her first race in the event this season.
Representing MSU in the women's 4x400-meter relay, the team of Evans, Westney, Rose and freshman Aubrey Wilberding clocked a time of 3:43.74 to place second overall. The Spartan men also turned in a runner-up finish in the 4x400-meter relay as the team of junior Ross Parsons, sophomore Austin Sanders, sophomore Stephon Foster and David Washington clocked a season-best time of 3:11.77. The men's 4x100-meter relays also finished third overall, as the team of DeVantre Whitelow, Parsons, Sanders and Washington clocked a time of 40.94, the fastest time for MSU this season.
"I thought the end of the meet - running the 200's and a really short rest before the 4x400 - both groups did a really nice job," Drenth said. "I thought the women in particular, Alicia (Evans) and Jellisa (Westney) literally ran the 200 about 20 minutes before. The fact they wanted to run it and did a nice job of competing all the way to the finish line, I was pleased with that. It was a nice season best for the guys 4x400.
"In order for us to be successful as a team, we can't have people do well in pockets. It's good to see the sprinters start to move in the right direction."
With an individual win in the 800-meter run, Aubrey Wilberding clocked a season-best time of 2:10.10. She was followed by fellow freshman Erin Billette in seventh place with a time of 2:13.46. Redshirt junior Devan John turned in a season-best time of 2:18.89 to place 27th.
"Aubrey (Wilberding) won the 800 and came back and anchored our 4x400," said Drenth. "She made up a big deficit. We got second, but she did a nice job of getting us back in the race as the anchor and split under 55 seconds. She's really starting to develop and hopefully we can get some consistency in her racing the 800. I think she's got a chance to run really fast if she gets in the right race."
In the men's race, sophomore Branden Wallace finished fifth with a season-best time of 1:52.56. Redshirt sophomore Caleb Rhynard competed in the event for the first time, clocking a time of 1:53.90 to place 10th. With another season-best time of 1:54.91, redshirt sophomore Ryan Haag finished 20th overall, while redshirt freshman Joe Oehrli improved his personal record in the event to 1:56.30 to place 27th.
Lauren Rose also earned her personal-best performance in the 100-meter hurdles, posting a time of 13.98 to place seventh overall.
"Lauren Rose did a nice job in the hurdles; she's making some progress," said Drenth. "She had a really long day; she ran the hurdles, the 200, the 4x400."
David Washington lowered his personal record in the 400-meter hurdles for the second time this season as clocked a time of 52.62 to place sixth overall.
"David Washington did a really nice job in the 4x400; we just need to get some more consistency out of him in the intermediates because he's key on the men's side to us," Drenth said. "He can score some points in that event. He's a national-level guy, there's no question about it."
In the men's shot put, redshirt junior Antonio James turned in a third-place finish with a season-best throw of 18.69m/ 61-4. Also posting a season-best mark of 16.24m/ 53-3½ was redshirt senior Chris Hessell, who placed 13th. Redshirt sophomore Jake Bennett finished 21st with a mark of 15.75m/ 51-8¼, while redshirt freshman Vincens Gjokaj also recorded a season-best mark of 15.66m/ 51-4½ to place 24th.
"I was happy to see A.J. (Antonio James) throwing the shot and starting to get a little momentum again. He seemed to have run out of gas. He had a pretty good meet at N.C. State [Raleigh Relays], but he seemed like he got a little tired. Now, he seems like he's coming around. Connor (Kostrzewa) had a really good throwing day. That's a sign that he'll perform well at the conference meet."
Sophomore Jamie Salisbury hit a season-best mark in the pole vault of 4.95m/ 16-0¾ to finish eighth overall in the men's pole vault. Close behind was freshman Tim Canfield, who posted a mark of 4.75m/ 15-7 to place 10th. Freshman Hannah Sailar tied her season-best mark in the women's pole vault, hitting 3.95m/ 12-7½ to place eighth.
Meanwhile, senior Ashley Stacey and junior Tori Franklin competed at the Mt. SAC relays. Franklin (12.75m/ 41-10) finished sixth in the triple jump, while Stacey placed 11th in the triple jump (11.95m/ 39-2½) and 14th in the long jump (5.78m/ 18-11¾).
The Spartans will be back in action next weekend, as Michigan State will be represented at the Drake Relays (Des Moines, Iowa), the GINA Relays (Hillsdale, Mich.) and the Ashland University Alumni Open (Ashland, Ohio).