Feb. 13, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State track and field team will travel to Geneva, Ohio, for the SPIRE Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14-15. The meet is held at the site of the 2014 Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships, where the Spartans will be competing against conference foes in two short weeks. Members of the team will also be making another trip to Allendale, Mich., for the GVSU Big Meet scheduled for this weekend.
“Without a doubt, due to the time of the season, we go to a meet like this and expect everybody to have a championship type mentality and championship approach to this competition,” said assistant coach Randy Gillon. “It is the Big Ten site, so we want people to kind of get geared up. The Big Ten Indoor Championships are only two weeks away, so it’s important that our athletes who are hitting continue to hit and athletes that are still sorting themselves out need to do so now and make a statement as to whether they are going to be a contributor or point scorer. We’re looking for people to have a great deal of focus and put themselves in position to score points at the conference meet.
Last Time Out
The Spartans had their most successful meet so far this indoor season, putting up strong numbers at the Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind., at the Akron Invitational and at the Hillsdale College Wide Track Classic.
Three new MSU records were set at the Meyo Invite, kicked off by Sarah Birkmeier’s winning mark in the pole vault (4.06m/13-3¾), while Antonio James won both the weight throw (21.65m/ 71-½) and shot put, setting a new shot put record of 19.55m/ 64-1¾. Breaking her own school record in the triple jump from 2012, Tori Franklin earned a first-place and record-setting mark of 13.39m/ 43-11¼.
Also earning individual wins at the Meyo Invite were Rachele Schulist (9:22.35) and Caleb Rhynard (8:00.58) in the 3,000-meter run, while Tim Ehrhardt (5.20m/17-¾) took his second win of the season in the pole vault.
Meanwhile, Kurt Schneider finished in second place in the heptathlon at the Akron Invitational. He tallied a total of 5,558 points, paced by a win in the high jump and four runner-up finishes.
At the Hillsdale College Wide Track Classic, five Spartans placed in the top-10 in the 3,000-meter led by Allison Lunau (9:54.41) competing unattached and finishing first in the women’s race, while Ben Carruthers (8:34.26) led the men with a fourth-place finish.
The Spartans have rewritten the MSU record books during indoor competition as three school records have been broken so far in the 2014 season, including:
- Sarah Birkmeier
Pole Vault (4.06m/ 13-3¾) - Meyo Invite
- Antonio James
Shot Put (19.55m/ 64-1¾) - Meyo Invite
- Tori Franklin
Triple Jump (13.39m/ 43-11¼) - Meyo Invite
MSU in the Rankings
In the Great Lakes region, the Spartan women sit at No. 4, while the men rank 10th in the latest USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Regional Index.
Individually, Michigan State currently has three Spartans ranked in the top-10 in the nation. Antonio James owns the third-best mark in the weigh throw (22.74m/42-7¼) and sits at No. 9 in the shot put (19.55m/ 64-1¾). Also owning the No. 3 mark in the nation is Tori Franklin in the triple jump (13.39m/ 43-11¼). Breaking into the top-10 rankings in the heptathlon is Kurt Schneider, who tallied 5,558 points for the eighth-best spot.
In the Big Ten rankings, the Spartans are among the top-five in the conference in a total of 17 events. DeVantré Whitelow (6.72) holds on strong to the top time in the 60-meter dash for the fifth-straight week, while Franklin's triple jump mark also ranks at the top of the Big Ten. James’ record-breaking mark in the shot put moved him into the top spot, while Schneider’s heptathlon point total also is atop of the conference.
With her record-setting mark, Sarah Birkmeier earned the second-best pole vault mark (4.06m/13-3¾) in the conference. Leah O’Connor moved into the No. 2 spot in the mile after posting a time of 4:39.32, while Caleb Rhynard owns the second-best 3,000-meter time of 8:00.58 and Julia Otwell sits in second in the 5,000-meter with a time of 16:39.33.
James' also sits at No. 3 in the weight throw (22.74m/74-7¼), while Rachele Schulist surged into the rankings with the third-best 3,000-meter time of 9:22.35. Ashley Stacey sits at No. 4 in both the long jump (6.08m/19-11½) and triple jump (12.63m/41-5¼), while Adeline Grier-Welch owns the fourth-best mark in the high jump (1.74m/5-8½). Also moving into fourth in the Big Ten is Tim Ehrhardt in the pole vault (5.20m/17-¾), while Shelby Jackson now owns the No. 4 spot in the 5,000-meter with a time of 16:51.33. Rounding out the top-five in the conference is Schneider who is No. 5 in the high jump (2.11m/6-11), and Jarred Gambrell who owns the fifth-best mark in the triple jump (15.36m/ 50-4¾).
Receiving her third weekly conference laurel of her career, Tori Franklin was named the Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week on Monday (Feb. 10). Her record-breaking mark in the triple jump (13.39m/43-11¼) at the Meyo Invite currently tops the Big Ten and ranks No. 3 in the nation on the NCAA Division I Indoor qualifying list. In the conference, Franklin sits an entire foot and nine inches ahead of second-ranked Ellie Ewere from Nebraska.
The Spartans will again split competition next weekend as members of the team will travel around the Midwest region in the meets of the regular indoor season. On Saturday, Feb. 22, MSU will make its third and final trip to South Bend, Ind., for the Alex Wilson Invitational while another group of Spartans will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the Silverston Invitational hosted by the University of Michigan.