MSU - Franklin, Schulist, Watt and Relay Team Advance To NCAA Championships On Final Day

MSU - Franklin, Schulist, Watt and Relay Team Advance To NCAA Championships On Final Day

Provided by MSU

JACKSONVILLE, Florida - Four more entries punched their ticket for Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Championships as the Michigan State track & field program concluded action Saturday at the 2015 NCAA East Preliminary Round at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. Senior Tori Franklin (triple jump), sophomore Rachele Schulist (5,000m) and junior Cynthia Watt (hammer) all advanced to the NCAA Championships, along with the women's 4X100 relay team.

Saturday's Final Results

With the addition of four entries on Saturday, a total of 10 entries advanced to the NCAAs for Michigan State. The 10 entries is the most-ever during the nine-year tenure of Spartan director of track & field Walt Drenth.

"It takes a long time to get a program up to the point that they are competitive. Now the coaching staff and I have to get the consistency, which is an important next step for us." said Drenth. "It is a tribute to the coaching staff primarily Coach (Ceith) Cremuith, Coach (Vanitta) Kinard, Coach (Blaine) Maag, Coach (Lisa) Senakiewich and Coach (Aaron) Simoneau. It is also a tribute to people who have helped us along the way - Coach (Randy) Gillon, Coach (Chris) Bostwick and Coach (John) Newell. There work has helped us get to this point; it was their vision as well."

The 4X100 relay team of senior TeJuanna Williams, senior Lauren Rose, junior Alicia Evans and sophomore Jellisa Westney set a school record with a time of 44.28 to advance to the NCAA Championships. The previous record of 44.81 lasted just two weeks, as it was set by Williams, senior Tori Franklin, Evans and Westney en route to a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships.

"For them to come out here and break a school record and Jellisa to run the 200; she was busy all day," Drenth said.

In the highly competitive field in the women's hammer, Big Ten Champion Watt became the first Spartan of the day to advance to the NCAA Championships. The junior finished seventh with throw of 59.52m. The top seven throwers all threw over 59m. This will be the first time that Watt will compete in the NCAA Championships.

Franklin recovered nicely from a disappointing Big Ten meet by qualifying for NCAA Championships in the triple jump with a mark of 13.06m. This will be her fourth-straight season advancing to NCAAs in the triple jump.

In the 5,000m, sophomore Rachele Schulist qualified for her second-straight NCAAs, finishing third in her heat and fourth overall with a time of 15:53.29. Last season, Schulist earned All-American honors by finishing ninth in the 5,000m in Eugene. Junior Lindsay Clark finished 21st on Saturday with a time of 16:37.52, while senior Julia Otwell was 33rd with a time of 16:48.18.

"Rachele did an awesome job. She basically ran by herself, and 5,000m by yourself not an easy thing. She has a great chance to score at the nationals and based on this I have no doubt that she will," Drenth said.

The women's 4X400 relay team of Westney, sophomore Aubrey Wilberding, Evans and Franklin also set a school record with a time of 3:34.63, finishing 19th.

"To break the school record in the 4X400 at the end of the meet is an amazing accomplishment. I couldn't be more proud of them. They really took our challenge," Drenth said.

In the men's 5,000m, junior Caleb Rhynard just missed qualifying, finishing 13th with a time of 14:06.20. Sophomore Garret Zuk was 25th with a time of 14:27.86.

Also competing Saturday for the Spartans but not advancing to the NCAA Championships was senior Antonio James in the shot put. James finished 14th with a throw of 18.45m. He will continue his senior season by competing in Eugene in the discus. Senior Jarred Gambrell finished 22nd in the men's triple jump with a mark of 15.17m.

Westney competed it the women's 200m quarterfinal, finishing 21st with a time of 23.64. In the women's high jump, freshman Ellen DiPietro finished tied for 33rd with a mark of 1.70m.

The qualifiers out of the East and West Regions will compete in the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships held June 10-13 in Eugene, Oregon. For each individual event contested at each of the Preliminary sites, the top 48 declared student-athletes will be accepted into the competition. For each relay event, the top 24 declared relay teams will be accepted into the competition. Combined events (Heptathlon and Decathlon), are not contested at the Preliminary sites.

Michigan State East Preliminary Qualifiers


Name Event Mark/Time

Sarah Birkmeier Pole Vault 4.18m

Katelyn Daniels Discus 57.87m

Tori Franklin Triple Jump 13.06m

Leah O'Connor 3,000m Steeple 3:35.33

Rachele Schulist 5,000m 15:53.29

Cynthia Watt Hammer 59.52m

Michigan State 4X100 relay 44.28


Name Event Mark/Time

Vinny Gjokaj Hammer Throw 64.37m

Antonio James Discus 58.89m

Tim Ehrhardt Decathalon*

*=Qualified directly to NCAA Championships