Jan. 31, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - In the only dual meet of the season, the Michigan State track and field team will take on in-state and conference rival Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. The competition will take place at the Kelly Family Sports Complex on the campus of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. It marks the second-straight year that the two programs have held a head-to-head meet during the indoor season, but it is just the second in either school's history for the women's program.
"It's a great opportunity to get together with an exceptional track and field team and program," said director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "It's good for the state; it's good for the sport. There are a variety of reasons I think it's a good thing. Hopefully we'll sustain it. Hopefully we'll be competitive. It's interesting from a competitive stand point. It's a short meet; it's more like most athletic contests. I think we're always excited and to have it be with an in state rival, most of our athletes know their athletes and vice versa. Like everything else in this rivalry, there's a lot of familiarity. I think everyone looks forward to this meet."
Tickets prices for the day of meet are as follows: $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors (general admission) and $15 for a VIP track-level pass. For additional ticket information, call 616-331-3200 or go to the GVSU ticket web site here.
Schedule of Events
6 p.m. - Women's weight throw, Men's shot put, Men's and women's pole vault; Women's high jump
6:15 p.m. - Men's and women's long jump
7:15 p.m. - Men's high jump, Men's weight throw, Women's shot put, Men's and women's triple jump
Track Events (men followed by women):
6:30 p.m. - Mile
6:45 p.m. - 60-meter hurdles
6:55 p.m. - 400-meter dash
7:10 p.m. - 600-meter run
7:25 p.m. - 60-meter dash
7:35 p.m. - 800-meter run
7:50 p.m. - 200-meter dash
8 p.m. - 3,000-meter run
8:30 p.m. - 4x400-meter relay
Last Time Out
The Michigan State track and field team traveled to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame Invitational on last Saturday for the first scored meet of 2014. The men's team came in first place out of four teams with a total of 179 points, while the women finished a close second to Notre Dame with 173 points.
Leading the Spartan men was Kurt Schneider, who scored points for MSU in three different events throughout the day. Earning an individual win in the long jump, Schneider hit a mark of 7.22m/23-8¼. He also placed third overall in the 60-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 8.29, followed by a runner-up finish in the high jump with a mark of 2.05m/ 6-8¾. Antonio James also helped lead the Spartans to victory with an individual win in the weight throw after hitting a mark of 22.74m/74-7¼. Stepping up for MSU in the pole vault was newcomer Tim Ehrhardt, who earned first-place points with a mark of 4.95m/16-2¾. In the triple jump, Jarred Gambrell also finished first with a mark of 14.28m/47-2¼. Austin Sanders earned his second win of the season in the 200-meter dash, posting a time of 21.94. Earning an individual win in his first meet of the season, Caleb Rhynard scored first-place points for the Spartans in the mile with a time of 4:05.82.
On the women's side. Aubrey Wilberding earned an individual win in the 800-meter run, posting a time of 2:11.76. Winning the 200-meter dash was TeJuanna Williams with a time of 24.65. Michigan State also scored first, second and third-place points in the 3,000-meter with Leah O'Connor taking the win with a time of 9:29.09. In the long jump, Ashley Stacey turned in a winning mark of 6.08m/19-11½, while Tori Franklin finished second with a mark of 5.84m/19-2. The two switched places in the triple jump as Franklin took the win with a mark of 13.10m/ 42-11¾, while Stacey posted a mark of 12.35m/ 40' 6¼ for second place.
MSU in the Rankings
Michigan State currently has two Spartans ranked in the top-10 in the nation. Antonio James owns the third-best mark in the weigh throw (22.74m/42-7¼), while Tori Franklin sits at No. 4 in the triple jump (13.10m/42-11¾).
In the Big Ten rankings, the Spartans are among the top-five in the conference in a total of 12 spots events. DeVantré Whitelow (6.72) holds on strong to the top time in the 60-meter dash, while Franklin's triple jump mark also ranks at the top of the Big Ten. James' sits at No. 2 in the shot put (18.95m/62-2¼), along with Caleb Rhnard in the mile (4'05.82), Ashley Stacey in the triple jump (6.08m/19-11½) and Adeline Grier-Welch in the high jump (1.74m/5-8½). In the weight throw, James' sits in third among the Big Ten, while Leah O'Connor owns the fourth-best 3,000-meter time of 9:29.09. Rounding out the top-five in the conference is Sara Kroll in the mile (4:48.37), Lindsay Clark in the 3,000-meter (9:30.17), Stacey in the triple jump (12.35m/ 40-6¼) as well as the women's 4x400-meter relay with a time of 3:43.60.
Michigan's women's track and field team enter the meet ranked No. 12 in the latest USTFCCCA National Coaches' poll. The Wolverines are led by senior Kiley Tobel who owns the Big Ten's top mark in the pole vault (4.25m/13-11¼). Winning four out of the five events she's competed in this season, Cindy Ofili represents the Wolverines in the sprints as she swept the 60-meter and 200-meter dash as well as the 60-meter hurdles at Michigan's last meet. In the distance events, 2013 Big Ten Cross Country Champion Erin Finn leads the conference after winning the 3,000-meter run with a time of 9:11.10 in the Wolverines' last competition. At the helm of the Wolverines is head coach James Henry, who enters his 30th season leading the Michigan women's program.
"Michigan has people everywhere," Drenth said. "I think in the matchup, the key is going to be how we fair in the sprints. We're relatively even in a lot of events if you look at the seeding. The short sprints, like the 400-meter down, are where they look like they might have an edge. If we can keep them from having a bunch of events where they score eight points then it will be close and we'll have a chance to try to win. Both teams are going to try to win and they're putting their best foot forward. We'll show up and get better."
The men's team has only competed in one meet this season, but came away with three athletes currently ranked in the top 10 in the conference. Ethan Dennis (weight throw) and Cody Rifle (shot put), who each took first place in the weight throw and shot put at last year's dual meet, are eighth and 10th in their respective events. The men are led by first-year head coach Jerry Clayton.
"I think it will be close," said Drenth. "They have a good men's team. I think we have a chance to win and they have a chance to win. I don't think there is one critical event. I think we just have to be consistent and compete well. Some of our key people have to win; the people we expect to win need to win. If we can have a few surprises in a variety of events, there are places where we could maybe slip ahead of somebody that we're not seeded ahead of. If we can do that, then we'll have a chance to end up with a higher score than them."
The Spartans broke two school records and took home eight individual wins at last year's dual meet, but lost a hard-fought battle to Michigan as the men fell 88-74, while the women lost 89-73.
Giving the Spartans a spark with a win in the 400-meter dash, Alicia Evans crossed the finish line first with a time of 55.92. Leah O'Connor took the lead in the mile and held on for the win, breaking the facility and school record with a time of 4:40.41. Michigan State's 4x400-meter relay team beat Michigan in an impressive fashion, never letting the Wolverines in front as the team of Evans, Tori Franklin, Jaelynn Pryor and former Spartan Alysson Bodenbach earned a season-best time of 3:42.46. On the men's side, Jarred Gambrell took home a win in the triple jump, hitting a mark of 14.48m/ 47-6¼.
The Spartans will return to South Bend, Ind., for the second of three trips this season as MSU will compete in the Meyo Invitational. The all-day meet will take place on Friday, Feb. 7 and continue on Saturday, Feb. 8.