May 27, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State track & field program will send 20 student-athletes to the 2009 NCAA Mideast Regional, hosted by the University of Louisville at Cardinal Park on May 29-30. The 20 student-athletes that will represent MSU at the meet are the most for the program since the regional format was introduced to Division I track & field in 2003. The previous best for a Spartan squad was in 2007 when MSU sent a total of 17 student-athletes. Competition on both Friday and Saturday will begin at 11 a.m. Student-athletes will compete for a berth to the NCAA Championships, held June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark.
"We are excited to take 20 student-athletes to the regional championships," director of track & field Walt Drenth said. "The progress that both programs have made is reflected in the increased number of postseason participants. While the Mideast region hosts participants from many of the best track and field programs in the country, MSU has a large number of student-athletes traveling this weekend who should advance to the NCAA Championships and we look forward to that specific challenge."
Twelve of the 20 regional qualifiers come from the men's side - three in the sprints, two in the distance events, three in the jumps and four in the throws. The 12 qualifiers give the men seven more than last season. Starting in the sprints, senior Jeremy Orr (Detroit, Mich.) will compete in the 400m dash, an event in which he has excelled throughout the season. Orr is coming off of a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships and was an NCAA Indoor qualifier in the event. Yury Ratomski (Novi, Mich.) and Shane Wells (Romulus, Mich.) round out the qualifiers on the short track as both will be making their first career regional appearances. Ratomski will run in the 200m dash while Wells, who currently ranks 24th nationally in the 110m hurdles, will compete in that event.
Moving to the distance runners, both Shane Knoll (Warren, Mich.) and Ian Boyle (Pinckney, Mich.) will compete in the 800m run for MSU. Knoll also regionally qualified in the 1,500m, but will focus solely on the 800m at the regional championships. Knoll is making his first appearance at the regional while Boyle is making his second straight.
MSU is also well-represented in the jump events, highlighted by Kyron Foster (Deltona, Fla.), who broke the school record in the triple jump at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago. Foster's mark of 15.88m (52-1 1/4) ranks 17th in the nation, making him the men's highest-ranked competitor at the regional. This marks the second-straight trip to regionals for Foster. Joining Foster in the jumps will be pole vaulter Logan Lynch (Lambertville, Mich.) and high jumper Cliff Miller (Ann Arbor, Mich.). Lynch ranks 35th nationally with a vault of 5.20m (17-0 3/4) at the Drake Relays while Miller holds a qualifying mark of 2.10m (6-10 3/4).
The men's side also qualified four throwers for regional action, including Big Ten Champion in the discus, Lonnie Pugh (Grosse Ile, Mich.). As just a freshman, Pugh held the Big Ten's top mark almost all season long and won the even with a toss of 53.65m (176-0). His season-best mark of 56.33m (184-9) set the new school record and ranks him 29th in the nation heading into regionals. Joining Pugh in the throws will be Brad Wentzel (Allegan, Mich.) who has qualified in both the discus and shot put, and both Kyle Strotbaum (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Anthony Agrusa (St. Clair Shores, Mich.) who will compete in the hammer. Agrusa is making his second-straight trip to the Mideast Regional, while Wentzel and Strotbaum are both first-time participants.
Five of the eight qualifiers on the women's side have come in the distance events, highlighted by the nation's top 3,000m steeplechase runner Nicole Bush (Wyoming, Mich.). Bush ran 9:39.38 in the event which is a new school record and the fifth-fastest time ever run by a collegiate athlete. Bush has also posted regional qualifying marks in the 1,500m and 5,000m runs but will focus on the 3,000m steeplechase at the regional. Senior Sarah Price (Mankato, Minn.) will join Bush in the steeplechase as her season-best time of 10:20.43 ranks her 31st nationally.
Also competing in the distance events for the women will be both Lisa Senakiewich (Davison, Mich.) and Emily MacLeod (Cincinnati, Ohio), who have both qualified in the 5,000m run; both also qualified in the 1,500m run but will compete in only the 5,000m this weekend. Senakiewich is coming off of a fourth-place finish in the 5,000m run at the Big Ten Championships and currently stands at No. 22 in the nation with a season-best time of 16:16.40. Both Senakiewich and MacLeod were also NCAA Indoor national qualifiers earlier this year in the mile run. Junior Leah Elenbaas (Greenville, Mich.) rounds out the distance runners for the Spartans, as she will compete in the 800m run.
MSU qualified two pole vaulters on the women's side for regional action - Katie Shaw (Lakeview, Mich.) and Ashley Smith (Ceresco, Mich.) - as both rank among the nation's top 70 pole vaulters. Shaw was the Spartan's top performer during the regular season after turning in a personal-best vault of 4.00m (13-1 1/2) at the Drake Relays. She currently stands at No. 44 in the nation in her event. Smith owns a season-best mark of 3.85m (12-7 1/2). Smith is making her first appearance at regionals while Shaw's berth is her second-consecutive trip to regional competition.
Thrower Ashley Lawrence (Troy, Mich.) rounds out the qualifiers for the women. Lawrence has qualified for regional action in both the shot put and discus. She owns team-best marks in both and ranks No. 55 in the nation in the shot put. This will mark her first appearance at regionals.
For a complete recap of each day of the NCAA Mideast Regional, check back with www.msuspartans.com.