May 30, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Continuing to prove she is one of the top 3000m steeplechase runners in the nation, junior Leah O'Connor placed first tonight at the 2014 NCAA East Preliminary Round to qualify her for the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the third-straight year. O'Connor ran 9:52.69 at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., making her the second Spartan to advance to Eugene so far this week.
"Leah was obviously a bright spot for us today," said MSU director of track & field Walt Drenth. "She is an elite steeplechase runner and proved that again today. It was miserably humid, and she just went out and did what she needed to do. She ran well late, with her last couple laps ending up being her fastest. We have set her up to be at her best for NCAAs, and I feel like we are moving towards that goal.
"Across the board, I felt like we competed well again. This is a really good meet. Every day we need to learn and grow, in order to get better."
Four Spartans were in the field in the women's pole vault this afternoon. Sophomore Lauren Chorny barely missed her ticket to Eugene, tying for 14th with a height of 4.15m (13-7 ¼). Junior Sarah Birkmeier was 32nd, clearing 3.90m (12-9½), while freshman Hannah Sailar was 33rd with a height of 3.75m (12-3½). Junior Kassie Powell did not clear a height.
"Lauren was at her best today, but this was a very strong event this year," added Drenth. "She jumped the second highest she has ever jumped, but the qualifying height was 8-inches higher than last year. She just missed clearing the next height."
Junior Jarred Gambrell had a strong showing in the triple jump, finishing 19th with a final distance of 15.34m (50-4).
In the women's 200m, junior Alicia Evans barely missed out on qualifying for the quarterfinals, posting a time of 23.801 to finish 25th, just .001 shy of the top-24. Also in the event, junior Jellisa Westney was 33rd, crossing in 23.92.
Junior Lauren Rose competed today in the 100m hurdles, placing 38th in 13.83.
In the throws events, sophomore Connor Kostrzewa was 41st in the men's hammer throw, posting a mark of 55.74m (182-10) and senior Kaylee Finney placed 44th in the women's discus with a toss of 45.12m (148-0).
"Tomorrow I am looking forward to us finishing strong with people like AJ, Tori and Caleb, who have had success on the national level in the past," concluded Drenth. "We have a bunch of people who can place top-12 and advance to Eugene."
Michigan State will compete in 14 events in tomorrow's final day, beginning at 12 p.m.