Spartan Track & Field Opens NCAA East Preliminary Round Thursday

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State men and women’s track & field programs will head to Tampa, Florida for the 2018 NCAA East Preliminary Round May 24-26 at the USF Track and Field Stadium. The Spartans have a total of 25 entries in the East Preliminaries. Michigan State begins action on Thursday, May 24. The top-12 in each event will advance to Eugene, Oregon.

At the Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Indiana, the MSU women finished 10th (35 points), while the men were eighth (53 points).

On the women’s side, 14 different athletes will compete in 13 events with senior Katelyn Daniels, competing in both the discus and the shot put. The MSU women have two athletes who qualified in the top 10 led by Daniels who is the second seed in the discus after being the top seed as a freshman. Daniels has been seeded in the top 10 all four seasons in the discus. Sophomore Dillon McClintock is the fifth seed in the 1,500m. On the men’s side, 11 athletes will participate with junior Justine Kiprotich competing in the 1,500m after finishing second in the Big Ten Championship last week. Kiprotich was the silver medalist in the NCAA Finals last year.

The Big Ten will be highly represented with the second-most athletes competing. On the men’s side, there will be 195 Big Ten athletes at this week NCAA Preliminary Round in both the East and West Regions. Only the SEC has more with 252 athletes competing. The B1G has the most throwers of any conference with 54. On the women’s side,  there are 197 Big Ten athletes, while the SEC has 239. Once again, the B1G leads the nation in throwers with 47.

“Everywhere I go people talk about the strength of the Big Ten Conference. Not only how good it is at the top, the winners of every event, but also how deep it is. To score points you have to be almost a national-level kid now,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Walt Drenth. “I think it is a great tool for moving forward. The Big Ten offers us great familiarity when we get to the national level.”

1 | CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT

Michigan State continues to make improvement after the conclusion of the indoor season. The Spartans will send 25 entries to the NCAA East Preliminary Round after sending 21 in 2017. MSU had great success at the Big Ten Championships with sophomore Nick Guerrant earning the gold medal in the decathlon and redshirt-senior Tim Ehrhardt capturing the B1G pole vault title. Both earned first-team All-Big Ten honors.   Junior Justine Kiprotich was second in the 1,500m, finishing in the top three in the event for the third-straight season. Senior Max Benoit also was second in the 3,000m steeplechase, while freshman Jerimiah Evans was third in the discus. Both Benoit and Evans earned second-team honors. Senior Katelyn Daniels finished second in the discus, earning second-team honors.

“I think that everyone has recognized where we can get better. They have had to take a general interest in each other. It becomes less about them as an individual and more about them as a teammate. They have been more engaged as teammates and that goes a long way. This is not a team of original superstars. They have learned to get better and better as athletes,” Drenth said.

2 | THE DISTANCE SQUAD

Michigan will continue its storied distance tradition with sophomore Jeralyn Poe and junior Erin McDonald competing in the 5,000m. Sophomore phenom Karrigan Smith and senior Bridget Blake will run in the 3,000m steeplechase. Rounding out the distance group is a duo of Spartans running the 10,000m in sophomores Lynsie Gram and Amber Way.

Benoit will run the 3,000m steeplechase for the third-straight season. Benoit was the runner up in the event at the B1G Championships and is the fifth overall seed at the prelims. Sophomore Winter Romeyn is the 14th seed on the steeplechase. Senior Clark Ruiz will represent MSU in the 10,000m for the third-straight year. Joining Ruiz in the 10,000m is sophomore Jesse Hersha.

3 | MCCLINTOCK AND KIPTROTICH READY FOR POSTSEASON

Michigan State sophomore Dillon McClintock and junior Justine Kiprotich are both are both ready to take on the NCAA Championships in the 1,500m. McClintock finished sixth at the BIG Ten Championship with a time of 4:32.01. Her personal best came at the Raleigh Relays on March 30.  Her time of 4:13.82 is the sixth-best time in the NCAA this season. Kiprotich finished second at the Big Ten Championships in the 1,500m with a time of 3:50.53. Last season, he finished second at the  NCAA Championships and looks to return to Eugene this season. His personal best in the 1,500m is 3:42.36 at the Virginia Challenge in 2017.

4 | TIMELY THROWERS

Freshman Jerimiah Evans had perfect timing for his season-best throw (60.58m) in the discus, which earned him a bronze medal at the Big Ten Championships. The throw was also the sixth-best in the NCAA this season. Purdue’s Ashmon Lucas has the top throw this season (62.91m) on April 13. Six of the top eight discus throws this season have come by Big Ten athletes. Senior Katelyn Daniels used her final throw in the Big Ten Championships with a season-high throw in the discus (57.75m) to finish second.

“Coach (Lonnie) Pugh has done a great job of bringing this expectation that we are a national-level throws group. Katelyn has been a national-level thrower since her freshman year. Coach Pugh’s expectations as an athlete were very, very high and that had an influence on  his teammates. He has really tried to re-establish that mentality that you are coming to Michigan State, and I am coaching you so you can be national level.” Drenth added.

5 | ON THE ROAD TO EUGENE

Tim Ehrhardt and Nick Guerrant will compete in the decathlon in the NCAA Championships in Eugene. Ehrhardt is MSU’s record holder in the decathlon with 8,044 points at the Virginia Challenge. Guerrant set a personal best with 7,569 points at the B1G Championships.

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