Feb. 6, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - After an impromptu break in competition, the Michigan State track and field team will be back in action this weekend as the team will make their second trip in two weeks to Notre Dame for the Meyo Invitational. The Spartans will begin competition at the Loftus Sports Center in South Bend, Ind., on Friday, Feb. 7 and continue on Saturday, Feb. 8.
"We're putting our kids into a fantastic competition - one of the best track and field meets in the country for this time of year," said head coach Walt Drenth. "This is an individual pursuit; we want to see them maximize themselves as individuals. We're going to look for the best events for each person and try and get them running or jumping or throwing as far as they can.
"I was really pleased with how we competed at Notre Dame, really disappointed that we weren't able to compete against Michigan last weekend, but I think that the mentality of the group is pretty clear - the idea is to compete. If we can keep that same approach, we find that even though the competition has gone up, usually great performances occur when people compete. We stress that a lot. We're not really sending them out there to do a specific thing other than compete."
Members of the team will also travel to Hillsdale College for the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic on Friday, Feb. 7 held at the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center. Also traveling this weekend will be Kurt Schneider who will compete in his first heptathlon of the season at the 10th Annual Akron Invitational. The event will be contested on both Friday and Saturday, as well.
Last Time Out
Two weeks ago, the Michigan State track and field team traveled to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame Invitational 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.
The Spartans lone dual meet of the season scheduled for Feb. 1 against in-state rival Michigan was cancelled due to inclement weather and has yet to be rescheduled.
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. 5 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 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 Ashley Stacey in the triple jump (6.08m/19-11½). Adeline Grier-Welch sits in third in the high jump (1.74m/5-8½), while James is ranked No. 3 in the weight throw. Rounding out the top-five in the conference is Stacey, who owns the fifth-best mark in the triple jump (12.35m/40-6¼)
Michigan State will travel to the site of the Big Ten Championships next weekend as the team will compete at the SPIRE Invitational in Geneva, Ohio. The two-day meet will be held on Friday, Feb. 14 through Saturday, Feb. 15.The Spartans will also return to the campus of Grand Valley State in Allendale, Mich. for the GVSU Big Meet.