Led by Guerrant and Benoit, MSU Men Tied for Third After Day Two of B1G Championships
Guerrant becomes MSU’s first decathlon champion since 2002.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Sophomore Nick Guerrant and senior Max Benoit took center stage for the Michigan State track & field team, as the Spartan men are tied for third heading into the final day of competition at the Big Ten Track & Field Championships in Bloomington, Indiana. Guerrant finished first in the decathlon, while Benoit was second in the 3,000m steeplechase.
The MSU men are currently tied for third place with the host Hoosiers with 27 points, while the Spartan women are tied for 10th with seven points. Michigan men’s squad has a slight lead over Penn State with 44 points, while the Minnesota women are in the lead after the second day with 77 points.
“At the end of the indoor season we were sort of fractured. They decided we are going to get into this, and we might as well have some fun out there. They are being each others best advocates. It is nice to hear, ‘Go Green, Go White’ around the stadium. It means something to Max (Benoit), Karrigan (Smith) and Bridget (Blake) at the end of those races when its getting hard. I am proud of the way they behaved,” Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Walt Drenth said.
Guerrant’s 7,569 points were the fourth-most in the Big Ten this season. Redshirt-senior Tim Ehrhardt is the Big Ten leader and Michigan State record holder with 8,044 points at the Virginia Challenge on April 20. Guerrant is MSU’s first Big Ten decathlon champion since Paul Terek in 2002.
After the first five events in the decathlon, Guerrant was in fourth place with 3,961 points. He continued his strong showing with a personal best in the first event on Saturday with a 14.90 in the 110m hurdles. The PR helped Guerrant jump from fourth to second place. He went on to finish second in the discus with a heave of 40.91m. A third-place finish in the pole vault helped the sophomore retain second place with a vault of 4.50 m, just shy of his PR of 4.57m.
“It was an incredibly gutsy performance by Nick today. The weather has been pretty tough; nothing that we have had a chance to get acclimated to. One of the things I was really proud of Nick was his recovery after the long jump didn’t go very well. In the past, he has kind of gotten frustrated. He just kept on being steady, and recognizing the value of just being you. It was a great win; he beat some really good guys,” Drenth said.
Guerrant took the lead for good in the ninth event, scoring big with a 54.82m throw in the javelin. Guerrant had only a 23-point lead over Sawyer Smith of Wisconsin, heading in to the 1,500m. He started the final event in the back of the pack, but with less than 400m remaining he made the final push to land second with a time of 4:45.93.
“I started out the day with a PR in the hurdles and when you do that you are building up from there. I did well in the discus The pole vault was a little iffy, but I was able to keep it together. I couldn’t have been more happy with javelin, getting another PR. It really gave me more energy to get through the mile,” Guerrant said. “It means so much to win the Big Ten title. The first thing I did was look for my mom because I do this all for her.”
Redshirt-senior Katelyn Daniels earned the Spartan women their first points of the day, finishing sixth in the shot put. She secured her spot in the finals on her final throw with a heave of 15.89m. On her last attempt in the finals, she launched herself into the sixth spot with a throw of 16.11m. Freshman Kayli Johnson had a huge PR with a throw of 15.46m. Her previous high was 13.96m at the Louisville Invitation. Fellow freshman Nikole Sargent also had a season-best with a 14.59m throw.
Benoit had his best finish in a Big Ten Outdoor Championship, finishing second in the 3,000m steeplechase. Benoit crossed the line with a season-best time of 8:47.10. After separating from the pack, the senior took the lead. With only two laps left, Minnesota’s Obsa Ali took the lead for good, finishing with a time of 8:47.10. Last season, Benoit finished seventh in the steeplechase.
“I hope this means a lot to Max. He wasn’t a highly recruited guy coming out of high school, so to watch him toil and get coached is great. He trusts me, and I trust him. When he went to the front, I knew it was the right thing. It was courageous in this heat to go to the front and make a go like that. It changed the race,” Drenth added.
“This is my fourth Big Ten Championship, so it is a little bittersweet. I am glad to get second. I missed the podium my first two years. I was in fourth last year; I feel with 200m to go and finished seventh,” Benoit said. “It is nice to finally finish the job here. I am happy to finish second because I know I gave it my all.”
In the women’s steeplechase, senior Bridget Blake finished fifth with a season-best time of 10:19.10. Sophomore Karrigan Smith also scored points for the MSU women with a sixth-place finish with a time of 10:25.13.Sophomore Mackenzie Weiler took 18th (10:53.88).
“I thought that they did a great job. Karrigan took a big chance, going out there to try and be in the top three. I think that she is ready for that. I think that maybe the heat got to her just a little bit. Last year, she really struggled, so I am of happy with her approach and choosing to stick her nose out there. It will pay off big in two weeks and it will pay off big next year when she comes back. Bridget was outstanding. We have been nursing her through some injuries and today was a substantial season best for her,” Drenth said.
Sophomore Jonathan Fife improved on his season best with a time of 10.66 in the prelims of the men’s 100m. Despite the best, he was unable to move on to the highly competitive final. In the women’s 400m, freshman Brooke Bogan (58.32) and junior Denise Spann (56.93) both achieved PRs but did not advance.
Michigan State concludes action at the Robert C. Haugh Complex on Sunday, May 13, as the women’s discus begins at 11 a.m.