Michigan State track and field are splitting up.
At least for this weekend’s competition.
The majority of the sprinters, pole vaulters, vertical jumpers and throwers will be heading south to Knoxville, Tenn. for the Tennessee Relays. Meanwhile, the distance group and some younger athletes will stay close to home for the Siena Heights Invitational in Adrian, Mich.
The team is taking groups of athletes to Tennessee that they think have a chance of scoring within the Big Ten conference and at nationals. They are also looking for some consistent weather.
Many of the athletes heading to Tennessee have not gotten many chances to compete outside and the majority of the field athletes had to stay in Jenison Field House last weekend at the Spartan Invite.
The sprinters will have a chance to compete with their relay teams. Chemistry, athletic ability and health go into deciding the teams and they are looking to match their success from last year’s season.
“We’re refining (the teams). The 4×400, everyone is in play because it’s at the end of the meet and you sort of have to go with the people who are running well and the best bodies,” head coach Walt Drenth said. “The 4×100, we’re getting close to deciding who belongs in that.”
The distance group will take an easy, stress-free weekend remaining home with the goal to help develop the younger athletes.
“Our success and failure in the long run is going to rely heavily on these people that we’re taking to the meet (at Siena Heights)” Drenth said.
The distance runners also have a higher intensity training schedule that needs to be accurately balanced with their racing schedule. This weekend will be of lesser impact on their training, keeping their bodies healthy for the Big Ten meet and the road to nationals.
“Last weekend for many of us, (was a resting weekend), we competed the weekend before and we’re trying to get them ready for what we need them to do late in the season,” Drenth said. “Here, the weather starts to turn in your favor and it’s easy to get kind of get excited and overdo it. But we really need to keep our eye on what we need to do at the end of the season.”
Alexa McCarthy is the host of Last Leg for Impact Sports.
Photo: Alexa McCarthy/Impact Sports