MSU headed to the Big Ten Indoor Championships

As the indoor track and field schedule nears its conclusion, MSU travels to Geneva, Ohio for the Big Ten Indoor Championships this weekend.

It has been a year of record-breaking performances as four school records have been beaten this season.

Sophomore Antonio James, who is ranked No. 4 in the latest U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings in weight throw, set a new school record with his 21.59 meter throw at the Silverston Invitational in Ann Arbor last week.

He said he expects to ride the wave of confidence his good performance created into the Big Ten Championships.

“Starting from the fall up until now, you really get to see what you’re made of,” James said. “You get to see how much you put in and what you get out of it. (The Big Ten Indoor Championships are) a high level of competition, so you expect to do good.”

Still he’s trying not to think about his past performance too much because with a new week comes new hardships and new opportunities.

James said he wants to continue a solid week of practice that will put the team in good position when they go to the meet.

“I’ve seen first hand seeing all my other teammates work hard,” he said. “Not just in the throws, but all the events. They’ve been working hard this week to get to their peak and we expect to see great things from each and every one of them.”

Other records to fall so far this season have been at pole vault, where junior Amanda Impellizzeri reached a height of 4.05 meters, senior Beth Rohl at the women’s weight throw with 21.4 meters, and sophomore Leah O’Connor, who ran the mile in 4:38.39.

All of the new Spartan records are good for spots in the in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Top 25, with Rohl being highest at No. 8.

O’Connor said this is the meet everybody looks forward to, even before the indoor season gets underway.

“I know the track people, even though they’re not racing in the fall, they’re working out and lifting, and once the indoor season starts they just work their butts off,” she said. “All through cross country and indoor, it’s all been building into this climax of the season and you just want everything to go really well.”

Head coach Walt Drenth said the team has improved throughout the season, and he expects a good performance at the competition.

He said the quality of depth is the biggest difference between the Big Ten Indoor Championships and any other meet the Spartans have competed in this season.

“We’ve had conversations on a conference call this week where we’ve talked about a number of events that it’s not inconceivable that the fifth and sixth participants will be an NCAA qualifier,” Drenth said. “The Big East champion in the weight throw wouldn’t score in the Big Ten. It’s that deep, and nearly every event is that deep.”

He said the key to a good showing at the Big Ten Indoor Championships is to work together and have athletes who aren’t expected to score, have a good showing.

“At this point, what we need it to be is a team sport,” Drenth said. “We need everybody who has a chance to compete to be at the best and understand that they cant change anything and it’s not about them. If we meet those objectives, we’ll have a pretty successful weekend.”

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