EAST LANSING, MICH. - Perfect conditions for competition and two individual victories in the men's and women's 3000-meter Steeplechase highlighted yesterday's action at the Spartan Invitational, the only home meet of the season for the Michigan State Track & Field team.
Redshirt Junior Josh McAlary (Jackson, Mich./Lumen Christian HS) set a personal best in the steeplechase with a winning time of 9:02.03. "I just tried to go straight out to the front and stay out of trouble," said McAlary about his race in which he lapped several competitors. "It was nice to get that separation and not worry about getting tangled up with someone going over the water pit."
"This (the steeplechase) really helps build my strength and my closing speed for the 1500 (meters) which will probably be my focus for the rest of the season."
Redshirt Freshman Leah O'Connor (Croswell, Mich./Croswell-Lexington) took the top spot in the women's steeplechase at 10:49.77. "It was really exciting. I raced it last year (unattached) as a true freshmen and it feels good to get out there and compete in this event again," said O'Conner. "It's a completely different race - but everything from cross country to indoor track to our first meet of the outdoor season has helped build my confidence in this event."
One of the most exciting races of the afternoon was the men's 1500 meters, which saw several lead changes in the last 300 meters. Freshmen Austin Wissler (Marquette, Mich./Marquette), Redshirt Freshmen David Madrigal (Durand, Mich./Durand) and Eastern Michigan's Ian Hancke exchanged leads until Madrigal decided to push ahead with 200 meters left, narrowly edging Wissler.
Madrigal's final time was 3:48.40. Wissler was a split second behind at 3:48.70.
"We had a rabbit go out, Joe Dimambro, who brought us through 2:02 at the half. From the start it was just Ben Miller, Alex Wilson, Austin Wissler and myself just working together to get us to 300 meters (remaining) and once we got there is was every man for himself," Madrigal said.
Wissler, primarily a mid-distance runner, posed an interesting match for Madrigal who runs primarily distance events. "With someone like that (Wissler), you don't want to get into a sprint because you'll lose. I played conservative and really let it fly with 200 meters to go and I was hoping he'd go with me - and he did. It both brought us faster times."
The Spartan women also dominated the 1500 meter event. Lindsay Clark was MSU's unattached leader at second place with 4:30.30. Spots four through seven were taken by Julia Otwell (4:30.80) and four other runners who finished the day with new personal records: Katie Haines (4:31.10), Megan Rodgers (4:31.70), Rebekah Smeltzer ( 4:31.90), and Tiffany Evans (4:35.30).
In the women's 800 meters, Carlie Green and Rachel McFarlane took second and fourth-place with times of 2:13.72 and 2:15.65, respectively.
In sprints, the women's squad saw two top performances from TeJuanna Williams who took second place overall in the both the 100 and 200 meter dash. She narrowly edged teammate Jellisa Westney in the 100 meters (12.14 to Westney's 12.18) and grabbed and new personal record in the 200 meters (24.24).
Leslie Aririguzo added another win to her career, out-running the entire field in the women's 100 meter hurdles with a time of 14.19. Later in the afternoon, Jaelynn Pryor earned a new PR in the women's 400 meter hurdles, breaking the minute barrier for second place (59.79).
The Spartans had third place finishes from true freshman Aaron Hendricks in the 200 meter dash (PR, 21.88) and Kurt Schneider in 110 meter hurdles (15.12).
In jumps, Durant Crum, Kevin Jackson, Ashley Stacey, and Becca Buchholtz notched victories for Michigan State.
Stacey pulled wins in the both the triple Jump (11.98m / 39-03 ¾) and long jump (5.86m / 19-02 ¾).
Crum, a former sprinter who now focuses on jumps, had a new personal best in the triple jump with 14.77m (48-05 1/2). Teammate Jared Gambrell followed in second with 14.59m (47-10 1/2).
Jackson took top honors in the high jump at 6-11 (2.11m) and on the women's side, Buchholtz leapt 5-10 in the final home meet of her career.
Three men tied for second place in pole vault; Codi Mattix, Logan Lynch, and Derik Peterman each crossed the bar at 16-0 (4.88m). For the women, Amanda Impellizzeri had a new PR at 13-00 1/4 (3.97m).
On Friday, Senior Jay Gillespie earned a new personal record in the hammer throw, finishing third at 59.23m (194-04), while his teammates picked up Saturday afternoon victories. Lonnie Pugh was the men's leader in the discus, throwing 182-04 (55.58m) and Zach Hill was the winner in the shot put with a distance of 58-04 (17.78m).
Stephanie Bochenek, who spent the last several years as a member of Michigan State's rowing team, earned her first win in the javelin at 42.25 (138-07).