Spartans Perform Strong at Ashland Open/GINA Relays
James improves MSU discus record and several Spartans break personal records in Saturday's competition.
April 26, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Several Spartans turned in standout performances on Saturday as Michigan State track & field was well represented around the region. Antonio James set a new school record and Kaylee Finney took first with a huge personal record in the discus at the Ashland Open, while several Spartan sprinters broke personal records at the GINA Relays at Hillsdale College.
“Day one was not very good for us, but day two was a lot better,” said assistant coach Blaine Maag at the Ashland Open. “There were personal records all over the place. It’s hard to do that. It was perfect for discus; the conditions were great. With Kaylee (Finney) throwing as far as she did and A.J. (Antonio James) breaking the 60-meter barrier, that’s pretty big. We’re pretty happy with how the day went.”
Taking home first-place honors in the discus elite competition at the Ashland Open, redshirt junior Antonio James improved his own MSU record, set a new facility record and broke 60-meter barrier with a career-best mark of 60.15m/197-4. He also placed third in the shot put with a mark of 17.55m/ 57-7. With a personal record, redshirt senior Chris Hessell posted a mark of 16.67m/ 54-8¼ to place fifth overall. He improved his season-best mark in the javelin with a throw of 44.99m/ 147-7, good for seventh place.
“A.J. had a personal record in the discus, which is also a school record,” Maag said. “That was great, too. It’s his event, that’s for sure. Even going into Big Tens last year [when he won the title], he wasn’t ranked as the top guy and it’s going to be the same way this year. But I think it will be whoever is best that day that is going to get the victory. If he keeps moving forward, I think he’ll do just fine.”
Earning her first collegiate win in the discus, redshirt senior Kaylee Finney set a new personal record by close to 11 feet with a mark of 50.70m/ 166-4. It marks the second-best throw in the Big Ten this season.
“Kaylee (Finney) had a big personal record,” said Maag. “She’s been very close to moving up, so with 50.70 in the discus, that puts her on the regional list. There’s no guarantees, but that’s definitely a gold star.”
Meanwhile, the Spartans set the tone early on Saturday afternoon at the Hillsdale College GINA Relays with a first-place finish in the women’s 4x100-meter relay. The team of juniors Jellisa Westney, Alicia Evans, TeJuanna Williams and Lauren Rose clocked a time of 45.91.
“We did some things pretty well,” said assistant coach Randy Gillon at the GINA Relays. “All in all, it was a solid day. We had a couple of objectives in mind; we didn’t meet all of them, but we can walk away with a few good things. The 4x100 didn’t go how I wanted it to, but they managed to put that behind them and focus on the next thing.
For the second-straight week, Evans and Westney went one-two in the 200-meter dash championship. Evans continues to make major strides, dropping her personal record to 23.32 to take first-place honors. Also recording her personal-best time, Westney turned in a runner-up finish with a time of 23.58. Rose also earned a season-best time of 23.50 to place eighth.
“The 200’s went pretty well,” said Gillon. “Alicia (Evans) ran 23.3, which puts her second in the conference, and maybe top-10 in the region. Jellisa (Westney) was right behind her and did a good job. She managed to run a personal record, too.”
Three Spartans finished in the top-five of the men’s 200-meter dash championship, led by sophomore David Washington with a runner-up finish and career-best time of 21.49. In third place was sophomore Austin Sanders, who also posted a personal-record time of 21.51. Adding a third personal-best performance in the event, sophomore Ross Parsons clocked a time of 21.54 to finish fourth.
“The men’s 400 was Ok,” said Gillon. “David (Washington) ran decent. Austin (Sanders) had a good PR. We were able to get some good momentum from that.”
Rose went on to earn an individual win in the 100-meter hurdles, recording a personal-best time of 13.63.
With a breakthrough run in the 100-meter dash, Williams posted a runner-up finish and a significant personal record of 11.73. Sophomore Ross Parsons posted a time of 10.71 in the men’s race, placing fourth overall.
In the 400-meter championship, Washington posted a career-best time of 48.29 to place third overall. Sophomore Austin Sanders also earned a personal record in the event, finish in fifth place with a time of 48.88.
On the women’s side, Westney led the Spartans in her first turn at the 400-meter dash this season as she clocked a time of 55.81 to place third. Evans was close behind, placing fifth with a time of 56.95.
“Brandon (Wallace) did a good job, he’s probably a decision or two away from winning that heat or running a much faster time, but he had a good race nonetheless,” Gillon said. “Ryan (Haag)’s still trying to work his way back from the missed time after breaking his arm. All things considered, he ran well too.”
Redshirt sophomore Andrew Cusmano ran a personal record in the 5,000-meter run open, placing eighth overall with a time of 14:59.34. In the 1,500-meter run, redshirt freshman Ryan Beyea clocked a season-best time of 4:03.42 to finish 13th.
In the javelin, senior Chelsea Henderson post a season-best mark of 35.05m/ 115-0 to finish fourth.
“They did well, but they need to do a better job at being good at everything,” said Gillon. “I know that sounds kind of silly, but they’re not one-event athletes. They need to do multiple events at a high level, so that’s the next step – to try to do a lot of things well, as opposed to just an event here or there. It’s great to get PR (personal record)’s, but all it really does is make the bus ride home pleasant. It’s not going to be enough to score points at the conference meet. Today’s PR will be tomorrow’s motivation to work and look to improve our standing in the conference. We’ll take this momentum going into Purdue and see if we can improve on some of our marks, make some technical changes, and ultimately try to get ready to go for Big Tens in a couple of weeks.”
MSU jumpers, junior Tori Franklin and senior Ashley Stacey, also competed at the 2014 Drake Relays. Franklin finished fourth with a mark of 12.57m/ 41-3, while Stacey hit a mark of 12.03m/ 39-5¾ to finish 13th.
The Spartans will travel to the site of the 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Championships next weekend as MSU competes in the Dave Rankin Invite on May 2 and 3 hosted by Purdue.