The word “momentum” has been the key word lately for Michigan State track and field.
With one last major meet before the Big Ten Outdoor Championship, the athletes were hoping for a good outcome to surge them into a good place in the rankings.
At the Dave Rankin Invitational hosted by Purdue this weekend, the team had the opportunity to race against Big Ten teams such as Ohio State and Purdue giving MSU a taste of the competition to come. MSU proved that certain events were no longer a work in progress.
Once again, the sprinting group proved that they have better success outdoors rather than in.
A top finish on the women’s side, just shy of a personal best, was junior Jellissa Westney, who finished in first with a time of 11.76 in the 100-meter dash. Normally racing in the 200m, junior Alicia Evans proved her versatility by placing fourth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 56.49. Also, junior Lauren Rose earned a second place finish in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.74.
Both the women’s relay teams finished in second behind the talented Ohio State (which now sets both teams up for a competitive race in two weeks). In the 4×100-meter relay, Westney, Evans, Rose and Tejuanna Williams clocked a time of 45.32. The 400-meter relay team of juniors Westney, Evans, Tori Franklin and senior Ashley Stacey clocked a time of 3:41.73, a season-best time for the team.
For the men sprinters, success came for senior Ross Parsons in the 100-meter dash, finishing in first with a time of 10.72. It was Parson’s first win of the season. Sophomore Austin Sanders finished fourth with a time of 11.07.
Matching the women’s success, the men’s 4×400 relay team of juniors, DeVantre Whitelow, Parsons, David Washington and sophomore Sanders took first place with a season-best time 3:10.47. The team must be working through the simple problems, such as baton hand-off, that had hindered them in the past.
In distance, the women dominated the 1500 meter, per usual. Taking the top-3 spots were junior, Leah O’Connor with a school record breaking time of 4:15.4, junior Sara Kroll with 4:27.66 and freshman Rachele Schulist with 4:28.01. In the men’s race, redshirt sophomore Caleb Rhynard came in second with a time of 3:51.62, and true freshman Nick Soter placed in fourth with a time of 3:54.25.
In the pole vault, younger athletes dominated the field. Sophomore Lauren Chorney broke a school record in the pole vault and took first place with a mark of 4.12m/13-6¼ . On the men’s side, freshman Tim Ehrhardt finished first with a mark of 5.10m/16-8¾.
After not jumping at her usual standards the last two weeks, Franklin came back with a win in the triple jump at 12.92m/6-8¾. Stacey also improved from the past weeks, jumping to third with a mark of 12.49m/40-11¾.
In the throwing events, redshirt junior Antonio James is beginning to share the spotlight. While James finished first in the discus with a 59.58m/195-6 mark, redshirt freshman Vinny Gjokaj proved himself and placed fourth with a mark of 50.64m/166-2. Redshirt sophomore Connor Kostrzewa earned second place in the hammer throw with a mark of 59.36m/194-9. After a quiet indoor season, redshirt senior Kaylee Finney finished third in the women’s discus with a mark of 49.47m/162-4.
Next week, the team will take a weekend off from competition in an effort to train and prepare for 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Championship hosted by Purdue University, May 16-18.
Alexa McCarthy is the host of the Last Leg for Impact Sports
Photo by Alexa McCarthy/Impact Sports