June 12, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Four of the Spartans' six national qualifiers wrapped up day three of the NCAA Outdoor Championships on Friday (June 12) at John McDonnell Stadium at the University of Arkansas. Senior Nicole Bush (Wyoming, Mich.) was the Spartans' highlight of the competition as she finished as the national runner up in the 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 9:40.49, earning All-America honors for the third time in her career in the event. Colorado's Jennifer Barringer won the event with an NCAA Championship record time of 9:25.54.
"Nicole has just had a phenomenal career here. It has been a privilege to coach an athlete like her," director of track & field Walt Drenth said. "To finish as the national runner-up is very special; she really went out competing like a champion. She has a great shot at qualifying for the World Championships later this summer and I think she learned a lot tonight. To see her near the front during the whole race was really special."
Bush was in a highly-contested battle for second place with Washington's Mel Lawrence as the pair headed over the final water hazard. The two were neck-and-neck heading into the final 100 meters, but Bush was able to edge the Washington freshman by 0.49 seconds. The time was Bush's second-best of the season and it is her best-ever finish in three appearances at the NCAA Championships. Bush joins former Spartans Jamie Kryzminski and Odessa Smalls as the only three women in program history to be named an Outdoor All-American three times.
Senior Lisa Senakiewich (Davison, Mich.) was another bright spot for the Spartans as she earned All-America honors for the first time in her career after placing fourth in the 5,000m run. Senakiewich, who led the race for the first nine splits, finished in 16:28.88, earning five points for the women.
"We took this race a lot like the Big Ten meet with Lisa. We told her to settle in and make her move when she could," Drenth said. "She made it early and then made another run late. I know she was disappointed after indoor nationals and she came out very focused tonight and ran really well. I am very happy with the way that she competed."
In all, Bush and Senakiewich combined to score 13 points for the Spartan women, placing them 11th overall at the NCAA Championships with one day of competition still to go. Senakiewich's race was the final event of the season for the Spartans.
"I couldn't be more proud of them (Bush and Senakiewich)," Drenth said. "They have been a joy for me to coach and they have both had marvelous careers. For both of them to go out and finish amongst the nation's elite is fantastic. You really heard Michigan State's name a lot in both of their races."
Triple jumper Kyron Foster (Deltona, Fla.) was the first Spartan to wrap up competition on the day, placing 15th in the nation in the triple jump. Coming in seeded 22nd nationally, Foster turned in his second-best jump of the season at 15.75m (51-8 ¼), just missing qualifying for the event finals by three spots and 1.11m (3-7 3/4).
"Kyron's performance today talks a lot about his character and his competitiveness, he surpassed what he jumped at the regional meet so it shows how much he has progressed," Drenth added. "He gave a great effort and after he adds some strength, I know that he will be back here and he will score for us in the future. He is a great competitor and I am really proud of the way that he performed today."
Senior sprinter Jeremy Orr (Detroit, Mich.) saw his collegiate career come to an end with a strong showing in the 400m dash semifinals. Orr turned in a time of 46.67 in the event, placing 17th overall. As Orr's career at Michigan State comes to an end, he will remain as one of the most celebrated athletes in MSU track & field history. Orr was a two-time NCAA Championship qualifier and was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2005.
"Jeremy was so courageous during his race today; he really tried to give it everything that he had in his final meet," Drenth said. "He went out really hard and he left it all out on the track. The fact that he ran to win it, rather than try for a safe race and maybe get lucky at the end was really admirable. He has had a great career here and I am very proud of everything that he has accomplished."
All six Spartan competitors at the NCAA Championships on the men's and women's side - Bush, Senakiewich, Orr, Foster, Lonnie Pugh (Gross Ile, Mich.) and Sarah Price (Mankato, Minn.) - turned in top-20 performances at the NCAA Championships this season.