Track & Field
Track & Field Heads to Big Ten Championships
May 13, 2009
2009 Top Event Performances
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The 2009 Michigan State outdoor track & field program will begin its postseason this weekend as it will partake in the 2009 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, hosted by Ohio State at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The meet will begin on Friday at noon with the decathlon and heptathlon and conclude on Sunday with the running of the men's 4x400m relay. The Spartan men will look to improve upon their 10th-place finish at last year's championships while the women will look to build upon their eighth-place nod from a year ago.
"The championship portion of the season is the time of year that we all look forward to with great anticipation," director of track & field Walt Drenth said. "Our program's goal of progress towards the conference elite will remain priority No. 1. In order to progress towards the program's goals, it is important to collectively compete at our best. Both of our teams have had good meets with a number of great individual performances, but it is important that we have everyone at their best. Both programs have made great progress on paper and we should be much improved from last year's championship."
The women have been anchored by one of the Big Ten's elite athletes, senior Nicole Bush (Wyoming, Mich.), who ran the world's second-fastest steeplechase time two weeks ago at the Payton Jordan Stanford Invitational. Bush ranks in the Big Ten's top five in three different events - the 1,500m run, the 5,000m run and the steeplechase - while her time of 9:39.38 in the steeplechase ranks her tops in the NCAA this year and is the fifth-fastest time ever run by a collegiate athlete.
Also providing leadership and depth to the women's distance unit is senior Lisa Senakiewich (Davison, Mich.) and juniors Emily MacLeod (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Leah Elenbaas (Greenville, Mich.). Both Senakiewich and MacLeod were NCAA indoor national qualifiers in the mile and both currently rank in the Big Ten's top 10 in the 5,000m run; Senakiewich also ranks sixth in the league in the 1,500m run. Elenbaas comes in at sixth place in the women's 800m run with a time of 2:08.38 at the Joe Hilton Invitational. Senior Sarah Price (Mankato, Minn.) has also put together a fine season. An NCAA national qualifier in the steeplechase last season, Price currently ranks fifth in the league in the event with a time of 10:30.12, which was set at the Indiana Invitational.
The sprints for the Spartans will be anchored by a pair of the league's top runners, Charelise Davis (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Erica Mann (Battle Creek, Mich.). Both Davis and Mann have made their mark in the 100m and 200m dashes during the regular season. Davis boasts team season-best times of 11.79 in the 100m and 24.10 in the 200m dash. Mann is right behind Davis in the 100m dash with a time of 11.80. Both Davis and Mann rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the event.
Rounding out the top competitors for the women is pole vaulter Katie Shaw (Lakeview, Mich.), and thrower Ashley Lawrence (Troy, Mich.). Shaw is the league's fifth-best pole vaulter after clearing 4.00m (13-1 1/2) at the Drake Relays. Lawrence will anchor the throws unit for the Spartans as she ranks fourth in the league in the shot put and eighth in the discus.
In all, the MSU women have claimed one Big Ten outdoor title back in 1982. The Spartans' best finish this decade was in 2004 when the team took fifth place. In all, the Spartans have won 28 Big Ten event titles since joining the conference.
The men look primed to make a climb up the Big Ten ranks at this year's championships as they currently have student-athletes that rank in the Big Ten's top five in 11 different events, including one event leader, freshman Lonnie Pugh (Grosse Ile, Mich.), who holds the league's top mark in the discus at 56.33m (184-10). Pugh's mark in the event is a school record and is 1.18m (3-10) ahead of the next closest competitor in the conference during the regular season. The mark also ranks him 22nd in the nation in the event.
Sophomore hurdler Shane Wells (Romulus, Mich.) also ranks 22nd in the nation in his best event, the 110m hurdles. His top time of 13.91 at the Drake Relays has him ranked fourth in the Big Ten and has him amongst the favorites to bring home the Big Ten title. Wells finished second in the 60m hurdles at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, earning All-Big Ten honors in the process.
Wells is not the men's only highlight on the short track as both Jeremy Orr (Detroit, Mich.) and Yury Ratomski (Novi, Mich.) rank in the top five in each of their respective events. Orr, who will partake in his final Big Ten Championships this weekend, currently occupies the league's No. 3 spot in the 400m dash with a mark of 46.78, set at the Indiana Invitational, his only 400m competition of the outdoor season. Orr was an indoor national qualifier in the event and has his sights set on a Big Ten title this weekend. As just a sophomore, Ratomski has emerged as one of the top sprinters in the conference as he currently ranks fourth in the 200m and ninth in the 100m. His time of 21.31 in the 200m dash qualifies him for regional competition. Senior Keith Hewlett (Detroit, Mich.) rounds out the key sprinters for the men as he currently ranks ninth in the Big Ten in the 400m dash.
Anchoring the men in the middle distance events is junior Shane Knoll (Warren, Mich.). An indoor national qualifier in the mile, Knoll has carried his success into the outdoor season, posting regional qualifying times in both the 800m run and the 1,500m run. His time of 1:49.62 in the 800m ranks him third in the Big Ten while his time of 3:47.46 in the 1,500m ranks him 10th in the league. Spencer Beatty (Harbor Springs, Mich.) is the Spartans' top distance runner heading into the event as he ranks fourth in the conference in the 3,000m steeplechase after posting 8:58.78 at the Jesse Owens Classic two weeks ago.
The men are also well represented in the jump events, highlighted by sophomore pole vaulter Logan Lynch (Lambertville, Mich.). Lynch ranks third in the Big Ten - and 26th nationally - in the pole vault after clearing 5.20m (17-0 3/4) at the Drake Relays. Freshman Isaac Marshall (Rochester, Mich.) heads into the championships as the Spartans' top long jumper on the season as he currently sits in third place in the conference after leaping 7.26m (23-10) at the Hillsdale College Gina Relays. Kyron Foster (Deltona, Fla.) is the Big Ten's fourth-best triple jumper heading into Big Tens as he jumped 15.24m (50-0) at the Jesse Owens Classic.
MSU's last outright Big Ten title on the men's side was in 1972 as the Spartans have three titles in program history; the other two came in 1965 and 1966. Since the Spartans joined the Big Ten, MSU has claimed 71 event titles at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships with its most recent coming in 2006 when Brad Gebauer took home the pole vault title.
For a complete recap of all of each day's action, check back with www.msuspartans.com.
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