Nov. 6, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Walt Drenth was unanimously voted Big Ten Women’s Coach of the Year, as announced by the conference office on Wednesday. It marks the third conference coach of the year recognition for Drenth, as he also received the honor in 2010 and 2011. Drenth and the Spartans won their third Big Ten Championship title in four years on Sunday, fifth overall title in program history. Also recognized by the conference were MSU’s Sportsmanship Award honorees, Caleb Rhynard and Megan Rodgers.
“It means I have exceptional help,” said Drenth. “Aaron Simoneau has done a great job as a volunteer. Bekah Smeltzer has done a tremendous as a graduate assistant; she’s been unbelievable. Lisa Senakiewich is invaluable. It means that I have great help. It also means that the young women on the team trusted us, believed in each other and just did their best. From my standpoint, those are the things that mean as much as anything.”
For the second-straight year, Rhynard was recognized as Michigan State’s Sportsmanship Award honoree. Rhynard led the men's side with a fourth-place overall finish, posting a time of 24:21.00 to earn First Team All-Big Ten honors. It is the highest individual finish by a Spartan since Ryan Taylor finished second overall in 1998.
“Caleb’s consistency as an athlete, as a teammate and as a student is phenomenal,” said Drenth. “He sets a standard that we’re trying to instill in our program for a variety of reasons - his expectation of himself as a student, an athlete, as a teammate and as a person. He sets a really high bar and I feel like we’ve got to recognize people like that. If our men’s program is going to ultimately become as competitive as I believe it can be, people have to understand what it takes. Caleb is an outstanding example of that.”
Recording a career-best finish at the conference meet, Rodgers was chosen as the women’s Sportsmanship Award honoree. Rodgers sealed the win for the Spartan women’s team with a 15th-place finish with a time of 21:27.20.
“Megan was recognized for a variety of reasons - her persistence, her patience, her grace, her competitiveness,” Drenth said. “She’s done a number of things really well throughout the course of her career. She’s been wonderful to have around. Her poise and presence at meets, particularly last weekend, is awesome. She hadn’t been in our top-five all year and to race to a 15th-place finish and just miss by a couple of tenths all-conference honors is remarkable. Last year, I think she finished in the 40’s at the conference meet, so to really improve at a better meet this year, to make the jump of nearly 30 places, that’s really quite something.”
The Spartans will take the weekend off to prepare for the 2013 Great Lakes Regional Championships on Friday, Nov. 15 in Madison, Wis.