MSU Track & Field Send 26 To NCAA Regionals

MSU Track & Field Send 26 To NCAA Regionals

Provided by MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State track & field team will send 26 individuals to the NCAA East Preliminary Round this weekend in Greensboro, N.C. The competition is being hosted by the University of North Carolina A&T at the Irwin Belk Track inside of Aggie Stadium. Action begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 23 and continues through Saturday, May 25.

The team's 26 qualifiers will seek to place in the top-12 in each event in order to advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 5-8.

Spartan Qualifiers at a Glance

For the women, 14 individuals will be traveling to North Carolina for the NCAA East Preliminary Round. Redshirt senior Beth Rohl will enter her fourth and final regional championship competition as the Big Ten discus champion with a top-seeded mark of 57.10m/ 187-4. She is also set to compete in the hammer throw as she is seeded 16th with a Big Ten bronze medal-winning mark of 60.25m/ 197-8. She placed in the top-five of each event to qualify for the 2012 NCAA Championships.

Also highlighting the women will be redshirt sophomore Leah O’Connor who was a two-time gold medalist at the 2013 Big Ten Championships. She enters the regional competition for the second-straight year as the No. 3 seed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:53.53. In 2012, she finished sixth overall to advance to nationals.

Building off a second and third-place finish at the conference meet in he triple jump will be sophomore Tori Franklin and junior Ashley Stacey. Franklin, who is seeded second in the region with a school record-setting mark of 13.41m/ 44-0 at the Drake Relays, will look to qualify for nationals for the second-straight year. Stacey, who is seeded No. 20th in the triple jump with a Big Ten bronze-medal winning mark of 12.77m/ 41-10¾, will also be competing in the long jump after qualifying at No. 46 with a mark of 6.07m/19-11.

Returning to the NCAA East Regional will be sophomore Jaelynn Pryor who qualified in the 400-meter hurdles with a 33rd-seeded time of 59.44. She also advanced in last year’s regional, placing seventh overall to qualify for nationals.

Representing the sprints group will be sophomores Jellisa Westney and Alicia Evans. Westney will make her second-straight appearance at the regional meet, first as an individual in the 100 and 200-meter dash. She is seeded 26th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.64 and 33rd in the 100-meter with a time of 11.58, each set at the GINA Relays. Evans also returns to the regional meet for the second year competing individually in the 200-meter with a No. 46 seed-time of 23.87 from the Big Ten Championships.

Pryor, Evans and Westney will join redshirt sophomore Alysson Bodenbach in the 4x400-meter relay that qualified with a time of 3:38.63 for a No. 23 seed.

Redshirt senior Amanda Impellizzeri and redshirt sophomore Sarah Birkmeier, who are seeded 20th and 21st respectively in the pole vault, each qualifying with a mark of 4.02m/ 13-2¼. Impellizzeri will compete at her second-straight regional meet, while Birkmeier, who placed fourth in the event at the Big Ten Championships, will be making her first appearance.

Qualifying in the 5,000-meter for the second-straight year is redshirt sophomore Sara Kroll, who posted a No. 24 seed-time of 16:16.52 at the GINA Relays.

Making their first appearances at the NCAA East Preliminary Round will be redshirt sophomore Melanie Brender (10,000m, 18th seed), redshirt senior Rachel McFarlane (5,000m, 37th seed) and redshirt freshman Kathleen Landwehr (3,000m, 43rd seed).

The men qualified 12 individuals to compete at the regional championships. Redshirt senior Lonnie Pugh, who took the top spot in the men’s discus in 2012, will make his fourth and final trip to the regional championship meet. He is seeded 14th after he earned an eighth-place throw of 56.65m/ 185-1 at the Big Ten Championships.

Also returning to the NCAA East Regional will be fifth-seeded redshirt sophomore Antonio James who took home a gold medal in the discus at the Big Ten Championship. James, who qualified with a school-record breaking mark of 59.78m/196-1 at the Jesse Owens Classic, placed 10th overall in 2012 to advance to the national meet. He will also compete in the shot put after posting a career-best mark of 18.71m/ at the Big Ten Championships to earn a No. 15 seed.

Making his second trip to the regional meet will be redshirt senior Josh McAlary, who is seeded eighth in the 1,500-meter. He looks to qualify for his second NCAA Championship meet after posting a career-best time of 3:42.25 at the Peyton Jordan Invitational.

Redshirt senior Keenan Michael will also look to return to the NCAA Championships as he qualified for the regional meet in the 400-meter hurdles. He is also seeded ninth in the event, recording a time of 51.44 at the Raleigh Relays.

Redshirt senior Joe Banyai will make his second-straight regional championship appearance in the 800-meter run. He scored a career-high fifth-place points for the Spartans at the Big Ten Championships with a No. 22 regional qualifying time of 1:49.25. Also competing in the 800-meter is sophomore Austin Wissler who qualified for this first NCAA Preliminary Round with a No. 39 seed-time of 1:49.89 set at the GINA Relays.

Seeded 18th overall in the 5,000-meter run with a breakout time of 13:57.99 at the Raleigh Relays, redshirt freshman Caleb Rhynard will make his first trip to the NCAA Preliminary Round.

Also making his second-straight trip to the regional meet will be redshirt junior Ben Miller, who qualified to compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He placed sixth overall at the conference championships and posted a season-best time of 9:00.19 at the GINA Relays to earn a No. 38 seed.

With hopes to continue their final seasons as Spartans, seniors James Nixon, Cliff Miller and Derik Peterman have all qualified in the pole vault for the preliminary round for nationals. Nixon, who owns the top mark for MSU this season 5.11m/ 16-9¼, is traveling to the regional meet for the first time in his career seeded 27th in the event. Close behind with a height of 5.10m/ 16-8¾ is No. 28 seeded Miller who will make his second trip to the preliminary round meet, first to compete in the pole vault. Peterman, who took home a bronze medal in the event from the conference meet, will return to the regional championships for the second time in his career as he is seeded 33rd with a height of 5.08m/ 16-8.

Returning to the regional meet to compete in the triple jump, sophomore Jarred Gambrell hopes to build on his eighth-place scoring finish at the Big Ten Championships. He is seeded 29th with a season-best mark of 15.32m/ 50-4 from the Spec Towns Invite.

Qualifying for the Preliminary Championships

Qualification to Preliminary Championship Competition is based on the descending order list for the season, segregated by east and west sites, and prepared solely from the mandatory submission of meet results during the season and adhering to the Qualifying Regulations published in the Championship Handbook. For each individual event contested at each Preliminary Championship Competition, the top 48 declared student-athletes will be accepted into the competition. For each relay event contested at each Preliminary Championship Competition, the top 24 declared relay teams will be accepted into the competition.

USTFCCCA Outdoor Team Rankings

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its week eight rankings and the Michigan State women's track & field and cross country program rank 24th nationally. The Spartans are the only Big Ten team currently ranked in the top-25.

Post-Season Conference Honors

For the second year in a row, redshirt sophomore Leah O'Connor was named to the First-Team All-Big Ten. She defended her 2012 3,000-meter steeplechase title, running a time of 9:53.53. She wasn’t finished as she came back the next day to win the 5,000-meter run for her second gold medal of the meet. O’Connor has won every race she has ever competed in at the conference meet.

The Big Ten discus record-holder, redshirt senior Beth Rohl earned her second First-Team All-Big Ten recognition after winning her fifth career Big Ten title, sixth Big Ten outdoor medal overall. With her first throw in the discus event, Rohl took the lead and never let go winning the event with a mark of 55.22m/ 181-2. She kicked off her last conference meet as a Spartan by earning her second-straight bronze medal in Friday’s hammer throw competition, throwing a season-best mark of 60.25m/ 197-8.

A first-time honoree on the All-Big Ten First-Team, redshirt sophomore Antonio James won the first Big Ten outdoor medal of his career with a gold-medal winning performance of 58.25m/ 191-1 in the discus. He followed up with a sixth-place finish in the men’s shot put competition, hitting a career-best mark of 18.17m/ 59-7½ to score points for the Spartans.

Representing the Spartans on the Second Team All-Big Ten, sophomore Tori Franklin took home a silver medal in the triple jump competition on Sunday. The mark of 13.16m/ 43-2¼ gave Franklin her second Big Ten Outdoor medal of her career as she won bronze in the event at the 2012 conference meet.

Also recognized by the conference were redshirt senior Lonnie Pugh and redshirt junior Amanda Impellizzeri who were named Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees. Pugh scored points for the men’s team at the conference meet in both the discus and hammer throw, while Impellizzeri earned points for the women in the pole vault.

Record-Breaking Spartans

With the outdoor season winding down, the Spartans have already rewritten the MSU record books. The following records have been broken in the 2013 season:

• Antonio James

Discus Throw (59.78m/ 196-1) - Jesse Owens Classic

• Tori Franklin

Triple Jump (13.41m/ 44-0) -Drake Relays

Next Up

Advancing members from the Spartan track & field team will travel to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Championships held at Hayward Field. Competition will begin on Wednesday, June 5, and continue through Saturday, June 8.