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Track & Field Travels for Weekend Competition

Sarah Birkmeier owns the second-best pole vault mark in the Big Ten.

April 10, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Heading back out on the road, the Michigan State track & field team will split weekend competition as the Spartans travel to the 2014 Tennessee Relays and the Don Kleinow Invitational at Siena Heights.

Sponsored by Sea Ray, the Tennessee Relays will take place at the Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. The Spartans will compete in the hammer throw on Thursday, April 10. The events on Friday, April 11 will begin at 10 a.m., while the running events will kick off the final day of competition on Saturday, April 12 at 10:30 a.m.

Live Results | Meet Schedule

"It will be a good, competitive meet for us," said director track & field/cross country Walt Drenth. "We’re going there for weather and for the right kind of competition. The Tennessee meet is really designed for our skill, speed and power people. We just have to make progress. I think the throwers are making decent progress. It’s time for our sprinters to get going and moving up the ladder in terms of our times and performances. If we do the one thing we talk about all the time, and that is compete, then the meet will go pretty well. I think that some of the things we haven’t done well in terms of marks is really engaging, being fully intent on what we’re going for. I think the women sprinters are being a little bit timid and we need them to step up. They’ve trained, they are upperclassmen and they’ve earned the right to start having some expectations and hopefully this weekend we’ll see that manifest itself a little bit.”

Held at the brand new O’Laughlin Stadium, the Don Kleinow Memorial Invitational is hosted by Siena Heights in Adrian, Mich. The Spartan distance group will compete in the one-day meet, beginning at 10 a.m., on Saturday with the men’s 10,000-meter run.

"Our lifeblood for long-term success is going to have a developmental element," Drenth said. "If we don’t have some of our younger athletes, people who weren’t highly-recruited elsewhere, if they don’t develop into Big Ten-level athletes, then we won’t ever be as competitive as we are capable of being. You can’t score all of your points with scholarship people. You have to have some people who are developmental in nature. Some of it is just getting some people a chance to race. We’re looking at it from multiple aspects, but giving people a chance to compete is critical to their development. This meet gives us that opportunity."

Last Time Out
Welcoming close to 1,200 competitors, Michigan State hosted the 10th annual 2014 Spartan Invitational last weekend where the Spartans won a total of 11 events at their only home meet of the season, along with posting personal-best performances in a showcase at Ralph Young Field, Munn Field and Jenison Field House.

The Spartan throwers had a busy weekend as redshirt sophomore Connor Kostrezewa won the men's hammer throw on Friday, hitting a career-best mark of 59.76m/196-1. Winning the event for the second-straight week, redshirt junior Antonio James finished first in the men's discus throw on Saturday with a mark of 58.37m/ 191-6, before he added another win in the shot put with a mark of 17.83m/ 58-6.

In the pole vault, redshirt junior Sarah Birkmeier took first-place honors en route to earning an NCAA regional qualifying mark of 4.15m/ 13-7¼, tying her career high. Also hitting a personal-mark of 4.05m/ 13-3½ was redshirt sophomore Lauren Chorny to also qualify for the regional meet.  The men dominated the event, led by freshman Tim Ehrhardt with a jump of 4.95m/ 16-2¾ for first place.

On the track, MSU swept the 800 and 1,500-meter runs with top-three finishes led by redshirt junior Leah O’Connor (2:08.02) and redshirt senior Julia Otwell (4:28.05) on the women’s side, while redshirt freshmen Sherod Hardt (1:55.66) and Nick Soter (3:56.03) topped the men. Representing the sprints group was sophomore David Washington, who clocked a personal-best 52.73 to win the 400-meter hurdles, while junior Alicia Evans placed first overall in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.48.

Qualifying for the NCAA Preliminary Championships
Qualification to NCAA Preliminary Championship Competition is based on the descending order list for the season, segregated by east and west sites, and prepared solely from the mandatory submission of meet results during the season. For each individual event contested at each Preliminary Championship Competition, the top-48 declared student-athletes will be accepted into the competition. For each relay event contested at each Preliminary Championship Competition, the top-24 declared relay teams will be accepted into the competition.

Climbing the Rankings
In the latest USTFCCCA national rankings, the Spartan women sit at No. 32 in the NCAA. Regionally, Michigan State is ranked fifth on the women’s side and the Spartan men are seventh. Below are the individual Spartans on their mark to earning a spot at the NCAA East Regional Championships:

Name Rank (B1G/East/NCAA) Event Mark/Time
Sarah Birkmeier 2nd/8th/13th Pole Vault 4.15m/ 13-7.25
Melanie Brender 2nd/13th/31st 10,000m 34:32.10
Ben Carruthers 3rd/16th/43rd 10,000m 29:30.99
Lauren Chorny 4th/13th/26th Pole Vault 4.05m/13-3.5

Lindsay Clark

2nd/12th/21st 5,000m 16;09.93
Jarred Gambrell 4th/32nd/49th Triple Jump 14.98m/49-1.75
Owen Hughes 5th/32nd/71st High Jump 2.06m/6-9
Antonio James 2nd/6th/9th Discus 59.45m/ 195-0
5th/10th/18th Hammer Throw 64.51m/ 211-8
Sara Kroll 4th/21st/35th 5,000m 16:20.51
Katie Landwehr 6th/10th/21st 3,000m Steeplechase 10:19.85
Leah O'Connor 4th/16th/34th 800m 2:08.02
Julia Otwell 3rd/13th/24th 5,000m 16:10.95
Caleb Rhynard 1st/7th/9th 5,000m 13:49.60
Kurt Schneider 3rd/14th/35th High Jump 2.10m/6-10.75
Ashley Stacey 2nd/7th/11th Triple Jump 12.80m/ 42-0
6th/20th/34th Long Jump 6.07m/ 19-11
Alexis Wiersma 5th/28th/48th 5,000m 16:26.99

Record Breaking Spartans
In just the first meet of the season at the Raleigh Relays, the Spartans 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). Also breaking the hammer throw record was Antonio James, hitting a mark of 64.51m/ 211-8 to place second overall.

Conference Honors
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.

Follow the Spartans
Follow along with the Tennessee Relays through live stats available here and follow @MSUTrackFieldXC on twitter for updates throughout the season.

Next Up
The Spartans will travel to Columbus, Ohio, next weekend as they compete in the Jesse Owens Track & Field Invitational on April 18 and 19.



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