After an unexpected cancellation of last weekend’s meet, the Spartans are ready for some competition. MSU’s track and field team will head back to South Bend, Ind. this weekend for the Meyo Invitational. The competition will start on Friday, Feb. 7 and will continue on Saturday, Feb. 8.
“This is a big invitational as far as the country is concerned.” MSU head coach Walt Drenth said. “This is a good test of where we stand, as far as our [team members] in the national rankings and also the people we think can score in the Big Ten and to see some elite competition.”
This is the biggest meet the Spartans will have competed at so far, with 40 to 50 teams competing. Also, this is only some of MSU athletes’ second time competing this season.
“I wish we had had another meet, but you can’t control the weather so there’s nothing we could have done.” Drenth said. “Everybody is just anxious to get going.”
The Spartans were set to take on in-state rival Michigan last weekend in their only dual meet of the season, but it was canceled due to weather.
The Spartans competed at the much smaller Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend two weeks ago. The team had a good showing with the men’s team placing first out of four teams and the women’s team coming in second.
There were notable performances from both teams. Leading the men to a win on the men’s side, Antonio James finished with a first-place spot in the weight throw with a mark of 22.74m/74-7 ½. James will go head-to-head with Purdue’s number-one ranked thrower Chukwuebuka Enekwech.
In the pole vault, Tim Ehrhardt, earned a first place finish with a mark of 4.95m/16-2 ¾.
On the track, Austin Sanders won the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.94. Caleb Rhynard placed first in the mile with a time of 4:05.82. Rhynard will be running in the 3,000-meter race this weekend.
The women finished close behind Notre Dame. In the field, Ashley Stacey won the long jump event with a mark of 6.08m/19-11 ½. In the triple jump, Tori Franklin took the win for a mark of 12.35m/40’ 6 ¼. This weekend, both athletes will get a chance to compete in appropriately fast heats in both events.
In the 3,000 meter run Leah O’Connor also took the win with a time of 9:29.09 and this weekend will be running in the meets very competitive mile race.
Freshman Lauren Rose placed third for the Spartans in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.66 and is looking to make more progress in the event this weekend.
“It usually ends up being, from a balanced competition standpoint in all the events, one of the best invitationals all year. I can expect that we are going to be tested in all of the events,” Drenth said. “There will be appropriate competition in order for everyone. Our primary objective in every meet is choosing to compete and if we do that, we will get some pretty good outcomes.”
While the majority of the team will be heading to South Bend, some members will travel to Hillsdale College for the Hillsdale Wide Track Class on Friday Feb. 7. Mulit-event athlete Kurt Schneider will be competing in his first heptathlon at the 10th annual Akron Invitational.
Next weekend the team will split up the competition, with some athletes heading to the SPIRE Invitational in Geneva, Ohio and others traveling back to Allendale, Mich. for the GVSU Big Meet.
Alexa McCarthy is the host of Last Leg for Impact Sports.
Photo: Alexa McCarthy/Impact Sports