June 5, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. - The Michigan State track and field team kicked off the 2013 NCAA Championships at the historic Hayward Field on Wednesday as redshirt senior Keenan Michael competed in the semifinal round of the 400-meter hurdles.
Michael finished sixth in his heat, 17th overall, posting a time of 52.06. It was the highest finish of his career at the national meet.
"The race had a disappointing outcome," said assistant coach Randy Gillon. "You come to a stage like this and you have to be consistent and execute extremely well. We planned and prepared for the race to go a certain way, but we kind of fell victim to basic issues where he stuttered the first hurdle and got out of rhythm. In a field of this caliber, there is no room for error. It won't allow you to come back and get them on the end; they'll make you pay by closing the door and making it difficult if not impossible to overcome any mistakes. He made a simple, but very important mistake and it cost him the rest of the way. He tried to play catch up, but it's just too much emotionally and physically to do."
Returning to the NCAA Championships after qualifying his freshman season, Michael ended his MSU career as one of the top collegiate intermediate hurdlers in the country. Michael will leave his legacy at Michigan State as the first 400-meter hurdler to qualify for the national meet since 1978.
"It was very special for him to be here," Gillon said. "It's pretty special to be able to end your career on what is the biggest stage of college athletics. Although his race didn't go well, he is still one of the elite hurdlers in the nation. That's not something to overlook. Hats off to him being here through quite a bit of adversity though out his career."
The Spartans will continue competition tomorrow with a full day of events beginning with Beth Rohl in the women's discus at 5 p.m. ET. Leah O'Connor will compete in the semifinal of the 3,000 steeplechase at 8:35 p.m., while the women's 4x400-meter relay semifinal is set to take place at 9:20 p.m. Coverage of the NCAA Championships will be broadcast on ESPN3 at 6:50 p.m.