MSU Has Strong Performance Saturday At Highly-Competitive Notre Dame Invitational

MSU Has Strong Performance Saturday At Highly-Competitive Notre Dame Invitational

Provided by MSU

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Michigan State men and women’s track & field combined for 38 top six performances on the way to both teams finishing third Saturday at the Notre Dame Invitational.

The Spartan men collected 21 top-six finishes, while the MSU women garnered 17. Among the 38 marks that scored team points was six event wins, including junior Alexis Wiersma in the women’s 3,000m run, sophomore Ellen DiPietro in the women’s high jump, senior Cynthia Watt in the women’s weight throw, junior Vinny Gjokaj won the men’s weight throw, freshman Will Agodu in the men’s 60m hurdles and sophomore Justine Kiprotich in the men’s 800m run.

“We had some ups and downs, but I thought we had some really good performances,” said MSU Director of Track & Field Walt Drenth. “The throwers were outstanding. The men’s weight throw did a really good job. Ellen (DiPietro) jumped a high bar. Alexis (Wiersma) won the 3,000 meters in national class. Will (Agodu) got his first collegiate win in the hurdles and ran a nice race. We had some good wins, but we have a lot of growing up to do, which this meet gave us a chance for some perspective of exactly how much better we need to get to be impactful at the Big Ten Championships.”

The MSU men collected 96 points, finishing behind Michigan (130 points) and Louisville (122.5), and ahead of host Notre Dame (69.5) and DePaul (38). The Spartan women were third behind the same teams, as Michigan (144 points) took top team honors in both and second-place Louisville (111), while finishing ahead of host Notre Dame (68), Western Michigan (31) and DePaul (29).

“We did a decent job, but need to be more disciplined,” said Drenth. “We can’t just score, but need to have an impact. One point in 22 events doesn’t add up, so we need move up to that upper groove.”

Saturday was the first time that the Spartans fielded a full squad for a meet this season. “The distance runners had some ups and downs, as well, but need to get better,” Drenth said. “Alexis is looking good and picked up right where she left off in the fall as an All-American. It was nice to see Sherod (Hardt) run well, and Caleb (Rhynard) did a nice job. In pockets, we were pretty good, but we to be impactful and make some progress.”

Wiersma won the 3,000 with a 9:14.62 time, finishing ahead of junior teammate Shelby Jackson, who was fifth (9:40.89). DiPietro cleared 1.80m to win the high jump. Watt led a 1-5-6 Spartan finish in the weight throw, winning the event with a 19.72m mark, while sophomore Katelyn Daniels (17.56m) and junior Margaret Goettsch (17.55m) were fifth and sixth, respectively.

After running an 8.30 time good for third in the 60m hurdles preliminaries, Agodu dominated the rest of the field in clocking an 8.16 tape-breaking time.

Gjokaj spearheaded a Spartan sweep of the top three places in the weight throw, leading the charge with a 21.63m distance. Sophomore Riley Norman was second (21.12m) and senior Connor Kostrzewa was third (20.87m). Norman was also third in the shot put (17.06m), out-distancing Gjokaj who was fourth (16.55m) and freshman Michael Schauer was fifth (15.89m).

Kiprotich broke the tape in the 800m with a 1:51.54 time, out-distancing the rest of the field by over a second.

Other women’s top six finishes consisted of junior Cierra Pryor fourth in the 400m dash (56.32), junior Aubrey Wilberding fourth in the 600m run (1:33.12), sophomore Kayla Kavulich sixth in the 800m run (2:12.57) and senior Katie Landwehr sixth in the mile (4:49.12). The 4x400m relay team of Pryor, Wilberding, along with freshmen Denise Spann and Asya Reynolds were fourth (3:50.10). Freshman Hannah Sailar was second in the pole vault (3.95m). Reynolds was also fourth in the long jump (5.64m), clearing the same height as freshman teammate Autumn Robinson, with Reynolds getting fourth and Robinson fifth in a judge’s decision. Robinson was also fifth in the triple jump (11.36m). Daniels was third in the shot put (14.18m), just ahead of Goettsch in sixth (13.50m).

Other top men’s marks included fifth and sixth finishes in the 60m dash from sophomore Justin Pederson (7.19) and freshman Brady Bastien (7.22), respectively, while senior David Washington was fourth (21.99) and sophomore Antonio Clark was sixth (22.17) in the 200m dash. In the 600m run, freshman Kael Fineout was fourth (1:22.55) and senior Ryan Haag was fifth (1:22.60), while sophomore Dan Sims finished fifth in the mile (4:10.40), and Rhynard, a senior, was fourth in the 3,000m with an 8:07.72, just ahead of Hardt, a junior, in sixth at 8:10.68. The 4x400m relay squad of Clarke, Pederson, Washington and sophomore Alec Waiter was fourth in a 3:17.22 time.

Both Spartan men and women’s teams will return to South Bend on Feb. 5-6 for the Meyo Invitational.