May 10, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Despite severe weather delaying competition, the Spartans got off to a strong start on the first day at the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Championships at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. At the conclusion of day one at the meet, hosted by Ohio State University, the Spartans earned one medal from Beth Rohl with Julia Otwell and Lonnie Pugh also scoring points for Michigan State in the 10,000-meter and hammer throw, respectfully. The women are currently in fifth-place with seven points, while the men stand in eighth with one point.
"We are probably right about where we thought we could be today, it's somewhat of a plus-minus game," said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "I think the momentum on the women's side is good. I think seeing us compete like this with Beth and the women in the 10,000 is good for us to create energy and continue a sense of purpose. On the guys side, I thought that in general the hammer throwers did well. All in all, it went pretty well. It's important for us to get off to a good start tomorrow with the women's pole vault, discus and steeple. Hopefully we'll come through tomorrow, that's the plan."
Redshirt senior Beth Rohl earned her third Big Ten medal in the hammer throw, fifth overall, hitting a season-best mark of 60.25m/ 197-8 for bronze. It is her second-straight bronze medal-winning throw in the hammer at the conference meet.
"Beth started out with two fouls today," said assistant coach John Newell. "She had to change her technique to a two turn. She ended up going into finals in second place. She got passed up, but then finished up with a big throw. We haven't been able to train hammer much because she's been hurt. She got on the podium and scored higher than she expected. It was a pleasant surprise. With our women's team in the hunt for a top-three spot, that's going to be some valuable points. It's going to make a big difference."
The first to put points on the board for the men, redshirt senior Lonnie Pugh recorded a mark of 61.01m/ 200-2 to place eighth-overall.
"Lonnie did a fantastic job," said Newell. "He scored for us and he has now scored at every Big Ten Championship meet that he has ever been to, indoor and outdoor. It's a really big deal. Not many people can say that they've scored at every Big Ten meet."
Redshirt sophomore Antonio James barely missed the finals, hitting a mark of 58.25m/ 191-1 to place 12th overall.
"Antonio James and Lonnie Pugh both threw well in the second flight," Newell said. "This was the hardest final in the men's hammer to make in history. The mark that it took to score is higher than it's ever been, which goes to show you where the throwing is going in the Big Ten. Now we have to keep it up tomorrow and make something happen."
In his first Big Ten Championship, redshirt freshman Connor Kostrzewa threw a career-best mark of 54.56m/ 179-0 in the hammer.
"Connor had a four-meter personal record, which is a huge deal in a meet like this," said Newell. "His flight got delayed because of lightening. They had to re-warm up, which actually helped him out in a way to loosen up with this being his first outdoor championship meet."
Also scoring points for the Spartans was redshirt sophomore Julia Otwell who finished eighth in the 10,000-meter run. In her first race in the event of her career, Otwell clocked a time of 35:12.18.
Redshirt junior Olivia Sydow also ran the event for the first time, crossing the finish line in 35:43.89. She was followed by redshirt sophomores Melanie Brender and Megan Rodgers, who recorded times of 35:51.34 and 36:00.34, respectfully.
"I thought all four of the women's 10K runners competed pretty well," said Drenth. "Julia was outstanding. She really exerted her will. It was a long Spring for her and I hope she feels rewarded for getting in there and not only scoring but she probably felt like a long shot going into the race. It was gratifying for her and for us and we needed the points."
In the last event of the evening under rainfall, redshirt sophomore David Madrigal ran in his first 10,000-meter run as the sole Spartan in the event. He placed 12th overall with a time of 30:15.31.
"David gave us a nice effort in the 10,000," Drenth said. "It's his first race in the event and we all know that there is scoring for him in the near future. He's ready to make the next steps. It will give him a sense of purpose as he moves forward."
The women's pole vault, which was scheduled to be contested on Friday at 1:30 p.m., has been moved to Saturday at approximately 2 p.m.. MSU will be back in action on Saturday with events slated to begin at 9:30 a.m.
"Tomorrow is critical," said Drenth. "It sets the stage for what is going to happen on Sunday. We have to advance a lot of people to have a chance to score points we think we can score. You've got to earn a lane and a spot in the finals for the field events. You've got to have momentum on Saturday in order to have momentum on Sunday. With the kids out there tonight watching the 10,000 and seeing the sense of purpose Julia shared with them and the edge that Beth had today, if that's contagious, we'll be in good shape."