BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Junior Vinny Gjokaj led Michigan State track & field in the weight throw on day one of the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Alabama, with a ninth-place finish.

“Vinny, who had been struggling a little bit over the last month, really made steps forward today making the finals,” said assistant coach Blaine Maag. “Connor (Kostrzewa) gave it his all, which at a meet like this you have to go hard.”

Gjoakaj recorded a best of 21.15m (69-4.75) to finish just inside the top 10 at ninth. Gjokaj entered the competition ranked No. 12 nationally. Senior Connor Kostrzewa finished the day in 13th with a heave of 20.43m (67-00.50), also outperforming his seed of No. 15.

“We learned a lot and this will give them some fire and confidence moving into outdoor,” Maag said.

Sophomore Ellen DiPietro closes out Michigan State’s trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships with an appearance in the women’s high jump. DiPietro starts her championships weekend on Saturday, March 12, at 2 p.m.