Michigan State Crowns Three Big Ten Track & Field Champions Saturday
Provided by MSU
East Lansing, Mich. - It was another record-breaking day Saturday at Ralph Young Track & Field as three Michigan State athletes won conference titles at the Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Senior Leah O'Connor won her fourth-straight title in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, fellow senior Antonio James claimed his second Big Ten men's discus championship and freshman Katelyn Daniels took home her first championship in the women's discus.
After two days of competition, the Spartan women are tied for first with 52 points, joined atop the team standings with Minnesota. The MSU men scored 24 points on the day and moved into fourth place with overall with 30 points, trailing Nebraska (44 pts.), Minnesota (38 pts.) and Illinois (35 pts.).
O'Connor dominated the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:51.38 to collect her fourth consecutive Big Ten championship after winning the race in 2012 (10:12.36), 2013 (9:53.53) and 2014 (10:06.10). She becomes just the second Spartan in women's track & field history to win four-straight Big Ten titles in the same event, joining Odessa Smalls, who won four consecutive 200-meter championships from 1984 to 1987.
"Leah was great once again. We say that a lot," said MSU Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Walt Drenth. "But to win four in a row is a really hard thing to do. Especially in a great conference like the Big Ten. Amazing effort by both her and Katie Landwehr in that race tonight."
Junior Katie Landwehr clocked in at 10:17.22 in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase behind O'Connor and finished third, giving the Spartans 16 points in the event.
James reclaimed his title in the discus on Saturday after winning the 2013 Big Ten Discus crown. His mark of 60.56 meters not only earned him his second conference title, but also broke his own MSU record of 60.15 meters from 2014.
Daniels delivered an MSU and Big Ten meet record throw of 59.06 meters in the women's discus for her first career conference championship. She improved on her previous personal-best distance of 56.08 meters.
"For A.J. and Katelyn to both come out and throw school records at the conference meet is amazing and just a great testament to both of them. Coach [Blaine] Maag's done an amazing job with the two of them," said Drenth.
Sophomore Tim Ehrhardt entered the day in third place in the men's decathlon and finished the event with 7,349 points, good for second place overall in his first men's decathlon competition. Ehrhardt won the decathlon pole vault with a clearance of 5.25 meters.
The Spartans also had a pair of individuals score points in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase. Sophomore Max Benoit led the way in fourth place overall with a career best time of 8:51.32, followed by junior Chris Collier (9:03.28) in eighth place.
"Chris and Max both kept their poise extremely well in that race," added Drenth. "Great accomplishment for both of them to score at the conference meet for the first time and that effort is just contagious for the entire group."
O'Connor also led three qualifers for MSU in the preliminaries of the women's 1,500-meter with a time of 4.22.82. Senior Sara Kroll (4:23.58) and sophomore Rachele Schulist (4:24.25) also advanced to the 1,500-meter finals, scheduled for 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.
On the men's side in the 1,500-meters, sophomore Sherod Hardt posted a qualifying time of 3:48.31. Sunday's 1,500-meter men's final is set for 1:15 p.m.
Senior Lauren Rose clocked in with a personal best time of 13.47 in the preliminaries of the women's 100-meter hurdles to advance to Sunday's finals (1:25 p.m.).
Senior Alicia Evans finished third in the women's 200-meter preliminaries with a time of 23.25. Sunday's final will be run at 2:35 p.m.
Senior Jellisa Westney clocked in with a career best of 11.59 in the women's 100-meter dash and will run in Sunday's championship race at 1:50 p.m.
Sophomore Aubrey Wilberding ran a time of 2:07.64 to qualify for Sunday's finals in the women's 800-meter run (2:18 p.m.).
Senior DeVantre Whitelow was MSU's final championship qualifier in the 100-meter preliminaries with a time of 10:58. The men's 100-meter final is scheduled for 1:55 p.m. on Sunday.
"Our sprinters did another incredible job today. Lauren, Jellisa and Alicia were just fantastic. They kept their poise and managed themselves extremely well in each of their races," said Drenth. "Aubrey Wilberding rose to the challenge today and has a chance to score some big points tomorrow and DeVantre ran very well against a really tough field in the 100. We're really excited abouth the opportunities for each of those athletes tomorrow."
Click here for Sunday's heat sheets and here for a complete schedule of Sunday's events. Live results will be available here along with live updates on Twitter from @MSUTrackFieldXC.