MSU Track & Field Opens NCAA Championships Wednesday
Seven Spartans will compete in eight events in Eugene.
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EUGENE,Ore. - Michigan State men and women’s track & field programs complete the 2018 outdoor season at the NCAA Championships June 6-9 in Eugene, Oregon. Once again, the NCAA Finals will be held at historic Hayward Field. MSU will send a total of seven athletes in eight events, as redshirt-senior Katelyn Daniels will compete in both the shot put and the discus.
On the women’s side, freshman Sophia Franklin (pole vault) and sophomore Dillon McClintock (1,500m) will both be making their first trips to Eugene. On the men’s side, seniors Max Benoit (3,000m steeplechase) and Tim Ehrhardt (decathlon) will join sophomore Nick Guerrant (decathlon) and junior Justine Kiprotich (1,500m) at the NCAA Finals.
Michigan State begins action on Wednesday, June 6.
The men take center stage on June 6 opening action with the decathlon 100m, featuring Guerrant and Ehrhardt. On the first day of the decathlon the 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m will be contested. The semifinals of the men’s 1,500m and the 3,000m steeplechase will also be on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the final five events of the decathlon will begin at 10 a.m. with the 110m hurdles. McClintock (1,500m), Franklin (pole vault) and Daniels (shot put) will be in action as well. Friday will feature the finals of the men’s events, while the championship will end on Saturday with the finals of the women’s events, as well as Daniels in the women’s discus.
Once again, the Big Ten has the second-most entries on the men’s side with 67, while the SEC has 115. On the women’s side, the B1G has the third-most entries with 58, while the SEC has 115 and the Pac-12 78.
1 | LOOKING AT THE SPARTANS
Redshirt-senior Katelyn Daniels will complete her storied Michigan State career, competing in both the shot put and the discus at the NCAA Championships. This is the first time in her career, that she has reached the NCAA Finals in both events. At the NCAA East Preliminary Round, Daniels had a season-high throw of 16.31m, finishing 10th in the shot put. In the discus, she had a season-high throw of 57.75m at the Big Ten Championships, finishing second.
“I think that the advantage of doing both is that you are always on task. Instead of it being a big build up for one event. For her, she gets to throw the shot and then the discus, and I think that gets you into the competitive mind frame a little sooner and gets you a little calmer,” Drenth said.
2 | MAKING THE CUT
Max Benoit has had his share of near-misses at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds. As a senior, Benoit earned his shot in the 3,000m steeplechase a personal-best 8:44.32 at the East Prelims in Tampa. He finished second in his heat and fifth overall. In 2017, Benoit finished 13th at the prelims with the top 12 advancing to Eugene. The senior was the runner up in the event at the B1G Championships and was the fifth overall seed at the prelims. At the Big Ten Championship, he ran what was a season-best time of 8:47.10.
3 | MCCLINTOCK AND KIPTROTICH READY FOR POSTSEASON
Michigan State sophomore Dillon McClintock and junior Justine Kiprotich are both are both ready to take on the NCAA Championships in the 1,500m. McClintock finished sixth at the Big Ten Championship in the women’s race with a time of 4:32.01. Her personal best came at the Raleigh Relays on March 30. Her time of 4:13.82 is the 12th-best time in the NCAA this season. Last season, Kiprotich finished second at the NCAA Championships and makes his second-straight appearance this year. At the East Prelims, he had a season-best time of 3:43.49. He is making his second-straight appearance in Eugene.
“Justine is really talented and last year wasn’t a fluke. Whether he finishes second or not I don’t know but he is certainly better now than he was then, and his expectations are in the right place. It looks like Dillon is as ready as she was in the early part of the spring. To run her second-fastest time of the season in the conditions last week was really great. I think that we are seeing signs that she is ready to do something special. Neither one of them look like they are running out of gas,” Drenth added.
4 | NO FRESHMAN NERVES
Freshman Sophia Franklin has had a meteoric rise during her rookie season. The pole vaulter from Okemos, Michigan set a personal best, clearing 4.18m at the NCAA East Prelims in Tampa, finishing eighth. Her previous best was 4.11m at the Virginia Challenge.
“I think that the learning curve here is steep, primarily because she hasn’t been to a lot of championship events. I think that she is a pretty bright competitor, and she is doing what we are asking her to do, which is really assess where she can make adjustments. At the first round, she really became competitive. When she cleared the bar that got her to nationals, I think she was ready to clear the next one. She is very talented and this is just a glimpse of what she is capable of,” Drenth added.
5 | ON THE ROAD TO EUGENE
Tim Ehrhardt and Nick Guerrant will both return to action in the decathlon in the NCAA Championships in Eugene. Ehrhardt is MSU’s record holder in the decathlon with 8,044 points at the Virginia Challenge. Guerrant set a personal best with 7,569 points en route to winning the title at the B1G Championships. For his efforts, Ehrhardt was named Great Lake Region Field Athlete of the Year.
“The time off has allowed Coach (Ceith) Creekmur and both the guys to work on some things that will allow them to be a little bit better at Nationals. There are any number of places where they can make adjustments and make sure they feel that there head is in the right place in every event. I think that Tim and Nick have an advantage at nationals because they will be there together,” Drenth added.