Six Spartans Qualify for NCAA Championships
On the final day of competition, Justine Kiprotich punches his ticket to Eugene.
Final Results | Championship Central
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Michigan State’s track & field team completed action at the East Preliminary Round in Lexington, Kentucky. One more Spartan will advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene with sophomore Justine Kiprotich advancing in the 1,500m on Saturday. Overall, six MSU athletes will continue their seasons.
The teams endured rain and lightning that delayed both the field and running events.
“Our expectations is to have people competing at Nationals every year, so it is a great number. We had a couple of near misses, so obviously it would have been great to have eight. The whole weekend the kids engaged in the competition. I don’t think that there will be too many of them that will walk away and feel like they sold themselves short in effort of engagement. From that standpoint, that is all that we can ask them to do,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Walt Drenth.
Kiprotich punched his ticket to Eugene by finishing first in the second heat in the men’s 1,500m. The Big Ten Champion had the fastest overall time, clocking in at 3:46.51. He is the only Big Ten athlete from the East Prelim to advance to Eugene.
“He clearly was able to put things aside and lead wire-to-wire. He is growing up immensely, and he is growing up in a short amount of time. There were a lot of lessons for him to learn, but as far as maturation over the last few weeks, he has evolved a lot. I felt like he turned into a leader this week and it wore him out, but he got into the race and does what he does best. Winning wire-to-wire is a tough thing,” Drenth said.
On the women’s side, junior Katelyn Daniels narrowly missed out in advancing to Eugene in her second event. The All-American finished 13th in the shot put with the top 12 advancing. Daniels threw 16.21m on her first attempt. The junior will still be making her third-straight trip to the NCAA Championships in the shot put.
“She was able to rally once, but she wasn’t able to do it twice. She has made a lot of progress. With the length of the meet and the length of the weekend, it is hard to comeback. It is hard with all the weather delays, but other people had to do it. Hopefully she learned some things. She has another year with us and is a great leader. I am excited to see how she performs in Eugene,” said Drenth.
Sophomore Will Agodu finished 15th in the 110m hurdles, just out of range of advancing to Eugene. Agodu finished fourth in the second heat finishing with a 13.94. He was just shy of his personal-best time of 13.92 set in the first round on Friday. Ruebin Walters of Alabama finished first with a time of 13.39.
“We are seeing really great things from Will. He is really close. I told him, ‘You are going to be really good’ If he trusts his coach, and continues you to learn.’ For the young athletes, they have to take the expectation and the energy from a meet like this and train, understanding how good they have to be. He has to be excited about the progress he has made,” Drenth said.
Senior Sherod Hardt ended a fantastic Spartan career finishing 31st in the 5,000m with a time of 14:43.13. The All-American has had a solid career in the MSU Green and White.
“He followed a plan to give himself a chance to qualify, and he wasn’t up to the task. I admire him so immensely, He has been such a blessing to this program as it has matured and grown more competitive. It is going to be really hard for me to not have him around. He has been special and not seeing everyday is going to be a bummer. He is one of a kind,” Drenth said.
In the semifinals of the women’s 5,000m, freshman Jeralyn Poe finished 21st in her heat with a time of 17:18.29.
Overall, the Spartans will send six athletes to compete at the NCAA Championships June 7-10 at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Representing Michigan State one the women’s side will be Daniels (discus), senior Hannah Sailar (pole vault) and junior Jade Madison (javelin). On the men’s side, junior Tim Ehrhardt (decathlon), junior Noah Gary (pole vault) and sophomore Justine Kiprotich (1,500m).