April 3, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State track & field program will continue the outdoor season as it hosts the 2014 Spartan Invitational this weekend. The only home meet of the season, the 10th-annual Invitational will include several teams from around the region with events held at Ralph Young Field, Munn Field and Jenison Field House. Admission is free to the meet and parking is located at the Spartan Stadium lot off of Shaw Road.
"We believe it's very important to host an event," said assistant coach Randy Gillon. "Hosting an event is extremely important in building a program because we can host recruits and put something out there for people to be a part of. I think it's the one and only time the athletes get to compete and showcase their talents in front of their family and friends. Also, for the other sports on campus it's important to have a presence."
"This will be a smaller meet in terms of competition. This will be a great opportunity for some of our kids to make strides and put themselves on the bus for later meets. We're always trying to find kids that may have gone unnoticed in the indoor season. This is a great opportunity for those guys in particular to take a step forward and show the coaching staff and themselves that they are able to help us in the long-term."
The hammer throw (Munn Field) and triple jump (Jenison Field House) will be contested on Friday, April 4 beginning at 1 p.m. All running events will be held at the Ralph Young Field at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 5. Also on Saturday, the jump events will be held inside the Jenison Field House, while the discus and javelin will be held at Munn Field.
Last Time Out
The Spartans started the outdoor season in stride with several standout performances at the Raleigh Relays on the campus of N.C. State. On Friday, redshirt sophomore Caleb Rhynard broke a 37-year old school record in the 5,000-meter, originally be Herb Lindsey. He ran a time of 13:49.60 to finish third overall in the event. Rhynard leads the conference in the event, and ranks third in the nation. Redshirt junior Antonio James kicked off the opening day throwing just over a foot away from breaking his personal and school record, as he won the discus competition with a mark of 59.45m/ 195-0. It is currently the second-best mark in the Big Ten, eighth in the nation. James capped off a great meet with a runner-up finish in the hammer throw, setting a new MSU record in the hammer throw of 64.51m/ 211-8.
On the women's side, senior Ashley Stacey took home an individual win in the triple jump, posting a mark of 12.80m/42-0. Her mark leads the Big Ten and is the fifth-best jump in the NCAA. She finished third overall in the long jump, posting a mark of 6.07m/19-11 and ran a personal-best time in the 100-meter dash of 12.29. Redshirt sophomore Katie Landwehr won the fastest heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, running a personal-best time of 10:19.85. Her time leads the Big Ten and is currently the third-best time in the nation.
"You hope that they will be able to carry that momentum from last weekend," Gillon said. "Momentum doesn't have to mean equaling or surpassing marks that they set last week but it simply means just executing. Progress does not always show up in the results. In many cases it will be simply working on a technical aspect of an event, exploring a different race strategy put forth, work on a different aspect of your race or maybe a different technical component of your throw or jump. Progress does not necessarily mean a bigger throw or faster run. We're really hoping to see kids in a variety of ways that are competing and taking steps forward."
Record Breaking Spartans
Coming off just the first meet of the season, the Spartans have already set two outdoor school records. Shattering the 5,000-meter record by nearly six seconds, Caleb Rhynard crossed the finish line in 13:49.60 to break a 37 year-old MSU record set by All-American Herb Lindsey in 1977 (13:55.20).
Kicking off the outdoor season with an all-around great performance, Ashley Stacey was named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week, as announced by the conference office on Wednesday. It marls her first weekly outdoor conference honor of her career.
The Riverdale, Ill., native won the triple jump competition for the fourth time in her MSU career. The current MSU record holder in the long jump, Stacey finished third overall in the event. She also ran a career-best time in the 100-meter dash of 12.29 and anchored the 4x100-meter relay that finished fifth with a time of 46.18.
Spartans on the Leaderboard
Individually, Michigan State currently has nine Spartans ranked in the top-10 in the nation, six women and seven men.
In the 5,000-meter Caleb Rhynard owns the third-best time in the NCAA while Lindsay Clark (second), Julia Otwell (third) and Sara Kroll (eighth) all sit in the top-10 nationally in the event. Melanie Brender (second) and Ben Carruthers (seventh) sit atop the nation in the 10,000-meter run, while Katie Landwehr currently ranks third overall in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. After winning their events at the Raleigh Relays, Ashley Stacey owns the fifth-best triple jump mark and Antonio James ranks eighth in the discus.
In the Big Ten rankings, a total of 18 Spartans sit among the top-five in the conference in their respective events. Rhynard (5,000), Clark (5,000), Carruthers (10,000), Brender (10,000) and Stacey (long jump) are MSU's conference leaders in their events, while the Spartans rank in a total of 15 events. In addition, the men's and women's 4x100-meter relay (third) and the women's 4x400-meter relay (fourth) also rank among the best in the Big Ten.
The Spartans will head south next weekend as MSU travels to Athens, Ga., for the Spec Towns Invitational on Friday, April 11 and Saturday April 12.