For most athletes, the “home court advantage” saying is tired and true. But for MSU track and field athletes, they only get one chance to reap the benefits of their own facilities.
This weekend, MSU’s track and field program welcomed close to 1,200 athletes at the Spartan Invite, with competition taking place at Munn Field, Jenison Field House and Ralph Young Field.
Not having to travel takes a lot of stress off the athletes. And historically, the coaches and athletes like to mix it up at their home meet, especially in the running events. Younger athletes are given a chance to compete, while more experienced athletes find themselves in events that they do not usually run in.
Some of the runners competed unattached because of their redshirt status, but in an effort to get a taste of competition.
The men and women’s 1500m races were full of MSU distance runners. Redshirt freshman Nick Soter followed Caleb Rhynards’ pace to come in second with a time of 3:56. The women dominated their race, finishing in places first through seventh, with Julie Otwell finishing in first with a time of 4:28.
Impact Sports’ own Max Benoit competed unattached in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase and finished in second with a time of 9:32.01.
Multitalented freshman Nadia Lorencz won in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.10. She moved over to Jenison Field House to finish third in the long jump.
In the men’s sprinting events, Ross Parsons placed second in the 200-meter with a time of 22.15. Freshman Blake Sutherland still has some work to do in the 400-meter, finishing in 13th with time of 51.10.
In the field, notable performances came from pole-vaulter Sarah Birkmeier who is looking to return to the NCAA outdoor championship this year and placed first with a mark of 13-7 ¼.
The women throwers have not been very active in competition so far this year, but this past weekend saw women athletes in all four throwing events. Freshman Katelyn Daniels, competing unattached, take a first place finish in the shot put with a mark of 13.88m. In the discuss the women took places three through five, with Kaylee Finney placing in third with a mark of 46.38mm. In the javelin, Chelsea Henderson took second with 33.84m.
The men were also very present in the throwing events. In the hammer throw, Connor Kostrzewa finished first with a mark of 59.76m. This weekend also saw the emergence of freshman Vinny Gjokaj, who finished fifth in with a mark of 53.11. Antonio James continued his success in the discus throw and shot put, with a first place finishes in both events.
In the long jump, freshman Reggie Ferrall finished third with a mark of 6.53m.
The Spartan men dominated in the pole vault, with freshman Tim Ehrhardt leading the pack with a first place finish of 4.95m.
The athletes are in the midst of transitioning their conditioning from indoor to outdoor, and the Spartan Invite comes at a time for the team to evaluate early progress and determine younger talent.
The team will head back down south next weekend for the Specs Towns Invitational in Athens, Ga.
Alexa McCarthy is the host of the Last Leg for Impact Sports.
Photos: Alexa McCarthy & Nubia Buckingham/Impact Sports
Video: Alex Scharg/Impact Sports