Track and field shooting for progress in Big Ten Outdoor Championships

The MSU track and field team will enter the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, and head coach Walt Drenth is trying to avoid talking about it.

Instead, he is focusing more on helping the team make progress.

“The anxiety tends to go away when you understand the importance of competing for your teammates and it not being about you,” Drenth said.

The Big Ten Outdoor Championships will be held Friday through Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial in Columbus, Ohio.

Regardless of philosophy, Drenth said he recognizes competing in the championships is a special opportunity, and he expects the team to make the most of it.

“It’s very rare for people to have the opportunity to compete for a Big Ten championship, and we’ve got a big group that’s going to do well,” Drenth said.

Sophomore Antonio James said many of members of the team seem to have developed a level of confidence through team support and experience — traits that will serve them well competing at a higher level of competition.

James currently owns the MSU school record for the weight throw (22.25, 73-0) and competed in the NCAA Division I Championships a year ago, finishing 19th overall in the discus throw. In the 2011-12 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, James recorded a 55.93 meter hammer throw and a 50.93 meter discus throw, respectfully.

“(We’ve) got 13 athletes in the top five in each of the events, so that just lets us know that we have depth in many different positions,” James said.

Now in his seventh season with the program, Drenth said the team has a number of people that have a chance at winning championships, including senior Beth Rohl and sophomore Tori Franklin.

At the Triton Invitational, hosted by UC-San Diego on April 25, Rohl was the top collegiate finisher in the discus throw.

With the feat, Rohl became the conference leader and first in NCAA East Region — further adding to the lore of Rohl’s illustrious career with MSU.

“Beth is a Big Ten record holder in the discus, and one of the best discus throwers in the country,” Drenth said. “She’s earned that award a number of times.”

As for senior Alysson Bodenbach, she said she’s personally gotten more confident as she’s gotten older — but the nerves still are there. But in order to prepare, Bodenbach said the team is making sure they get their rest and keeping their minds fresh with championship aspirations in mind.

“I still get nervous before meets but it’s not as bad as when I was younger,” Bodenbach said. “When you’re a freshman, you’re inexperienced and by the time your a senior you’ve been there and done that and it’s not so scary anymore.”

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