June 6, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. - Redshirt senior Beth Rohl recorded her highest national finish of her career on the second day of competition at the 2013 NCAA Championships at the historic Hayward Field. The women's team is currently tied for 13th place after Thursday events.
"I thought we competed well," said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "The things we are capable of doing at the end of this meet in terms of team score still exist. There is a lot of meet to run. For us, we just have to manage ourselves. All we can do is control us at this point."
Rohl finished in third place overall among the highly competitive field in the women's discus final. In her last collegiate competition, she posted a mark of 56.02m/ 183-09 to take bronze. She has qualified for every discus final in which she has competed at the NCAA Championships and leaves MSU as the most decorated Spartan thrower of all time with seven All-American honors.
"This was overall the best I've seen Beth compete when she hasn't taken the lead in the first round," said assistant coach John Newell. "Normally, she usually comes out and throws really big in the first round and will be around that distance for the rest of the competition. This time, she started off with a decent throw and kept building. She changed around positions with a couple of girls; at one points she was second then got bumped to fourth and came back up to third which goes to show that she's maturing as a thrower. She'll have her opportunity in the future where the gold medal is in reach and she'll be able to respond. For her, this is big in terms of experience, but disappointing in terms of place."
Keeping her NCAA hopes alive, redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor squeezed into the final of the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:08.61. She finished sixth in her heat, advancing to the final to be contested on Saturday, June 8 at 5:57 p.m.
"Leah learned a lot of valuable lessons," Drenth said. "Fortunately, as painful as the lessons were, they didn't cost her in the big scheme of things because it's zero-to-zero when the gun goes off on Saturday. She's in the finals, she has an opportunity to score and she has an opportunity to beat a number of the people who beat her today. We talked about a few things we're going to change, mostly her mental approach. You have to trust what you've learned and trust what you've done in the past. If that lesson is applied, I'm confident she'll do very well in Saturday's race."
Also competing for the Spartans was the women's 4x400-meter relay team that qualified for the national meet for the first time since 1983. The team of sophomores Jellisa Westney, Alicia Evans, Jaelynn Pryor and redshirt senior Alysson Bodenbach posted a time of 3:37.82. Though they entered the meet seeded 24th, the women finished a school-record 16th overall.
"I have mixed feelings about the race," said assistant coach Randy Gillon. "I expected a better result time-wise because I think they are better than that. But, I have mixed feelings because we went in ranked really low and we came up and beat some people. All in all, I'm fairly satisfied with their competitive effort. They still competed and gave themselves a chance. Overall, it was solid."
Michigan State will continue with the third day of competition of the NCAA Championships tomorrow, Friday June 8. The Spartans have a full day of field events beginning with Sarah Birkmeier in the women's pole vault at 6:15 p.m. ET. Tori Franklin is set to compete in the triple jump at 6:25 p.m., while Lonnie Pugh and Antonio James will throw in the men's discus at 7 p.m. Tomorrow's coverage of the NCAA Championships will be broadcast on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m.