EAST LANSING, Mich. – The 2008-09 Michigan State track and field program opened the indoor season by winning 11 of 12 scored events at the annual MSU Invitational, held at Jenison Field House on Friday. Senior thrower Kyle Strotbaum (Grand Rapids, Mich.) broke his own school-record in the weight throw after notching a toss of 19.43m (63-9) in the finals. Three other Spartans - Anthony Agrusa (St. Clair Shores, Mich.), Jay Gillespie (Allen Park, Mich.) and John Barrett (Coldwater, Mich.) - also set personal bests in the weight throw. Central Michigan and Grand Valley State also competed at the meet. No team score was kept.
"I was really pleased with our energy and the way that we competed today," director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth said. "The energy was great and a lot of that can be directly correlated to how the throwers did. They came out here and got the gas up and that set the stage for everyone else to come out here to try and get going."
The freshmen shined in the early portion of the meet as both Becca Buchholtz (East Troy, Wis.) and Cliff Miller (Ann Arbor, Mich.) dominated the pentathlon, taking home their first career collegiate titles. Buchholtz took a commanding lead over all other women after winning the high jump after clearing 1.73m (5-8 1/4). She also won the 60m hurdle race, clocking in at 9.56, taking a sizeable lead into the shot put. After winning the shot put with a personal-best toss of 12.03 (39-5 3/4), Buchholtz was able to run away with the women’s pentathlon title.
Miller was challenged throughout the event by teammate Chip Slack (Chester, N.J.). The two were separated by only four points through the first two events, but after Miller launched a personal-best shot put throw of 12.33m (40-5 1/2), Miller pulled ahead by 168 points. Miller would go on to win the high jump and finish second in the 1,000m run, giving him a 290 point win over Slack.
"The excitement in this program is the youth and the young people that have really stepped up today," Drenth said. "You can see that the future of track and field here is very bright and I was very excited about that."
The field events began following the pentathlon, starting with the women’s weight throw, pole vault and long jump. Sophomore Ashley Lawrence (Troy, Mich.) notched a personal-best weight toss of 18.23m (59-9 3/4) to lead the Spartans in the event as she finished third overall. Former Spartan Megan Halliwill won the event. Lawrence also took home top honors in the shot put, tallying a mark of 13.31m (43-8)
Junior Katie Shaw (Lakeview, Mich.) and sophomore Ashley Smith (Ceresco, Mich.) tied for the women’s pole vault title after clearing 3.75m (12-3 1/2). Freshman Katie Guikema (Byron Center, Mich.) took home first-place in the long jump, leaping 5.69m (18-8). Two other Spartans that competed unattached - Brittany Tolar (Evanston, Ill.) and Maggie Smith (Clarkston, Mich.) - took second and third, respectively. Freshman Jessica Scherting (Saginaw, Mich.) took first in the high jump after clearing 1.60m (5-3).
The men followed the women in each event. Sophomore Kyron Foster (Deltona, Fla.) stole the show in the long jump. In his first-ever time competing in the long jump, Foster hit 7.27m (23-10 1/4) to win the event, topping the next closest competitor by 0.71m. Sophomore Logan Lynch (Lambertville, Mich.) won the pole vault competition after vaulting 4.75m (15-7) while Mitchell White (Livonia, Mich.) won the high jump after clearing 2.06m (6-9) while competing unattached.
The track events began following the field session. Sophomore Charelise Davis (Pittsburgh, Pa.) won the 60m dash while sophomore Liz Watson (Lansing, Mich.) took home top honors in the 1,000m run. Both Yury Ratomski (Novi, Mich.) and Keith Hewlett (Detroit, Mich.) qualified for the finals in the 60m dash, but finished second and third, respectively.
The day ended with the men’s shot put where the Spartans once again dominated their competitors from Central Michigan and Grand Valley State. Sophomore Brad Wentzel (Allegan, Mich.) finished first with a personal-best toss of 16.67m (54-8 1/4) while Spartan throwers filled the top six spots. Sophomore Dan Yonker (Portage, Mich.) finished second with a personal-record 15.64m (51-3 1/4).
The Spartans will continue their indoor slate after the holiday break when the head to Central Michigan to take part in the Chippewa Open on Jan. 9, 2009.