Women tied for first; Men in fourth, after day two of Big Ten Track and Field Championships
After day two, the MSU men's and women's track and field teams continue to impress at the 2015 Big Ten Track and Field Championships.
Heading in to the last day of competition, the Spartan women sit atop the leader board, tied with Minnesota at 52 points a piece, while the men currently are fourth with a total of 30 points. They trail Nebraska (44 points), Minnesota (38) and Illinois (35).
"Our objective is to be at our best," MSU Director of Cross Country/Track and Field Walt Drenth said. "You can't control what other people are doing and I feel like we did a really, really good job at that over the course of the entire day."
And it was a pair of discus throwers to start the successful day off for the Spartans. On the women's side, it was freshman Katelyn Daniels breaking the school record and winning with a throw of 59.06 meters while on the men's side, senior Antonio James took the Big Ten title with a toss of 60.65 meters — also setting a new school record.
"It's so big," James said. "I knew I had a big (throw) in me ... to break (the record) here at home in my last Big Ten meet is just so surreal right now. It's like something out of a fairy tale."
Other impressive performances from the men's side included sophomore Tim Ehrhardt, who placed second in the men's decathlon with a total of 7,349 points in his first ever time competing in the event -- qualifying for nationals along the way.
Freshman Max Benoit and junior Chris Collier also made strong showings in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, placing fourth and eighth respectively, with times of 8:51.32 and 9:03.28.
"I'm satisfied," Benoit said. "I just wanted to stay in that chase pack near the front and kind of control it. I'm happy. It went as planned, (personal best), can't argue with that."
But it was senior track star Leah O'Connor making history once again in the steeplechase. O'Connor led the race the entire way, blazing her way to 22 second victory in a time of 9:51.38 to capture her fourth consecutive Big Ten title in the event. O'Connor's teammate -- junior Katie Landwehr -- also ran well in the event, finishing third with a time of 10:17.22.
"It's amazing," O'Connor said of the atmosphere during the steeplechase. "There's really no other word to describe it. There's Spartans everywhere. You just feel the love pouring onto the track."
Heading into day three, with several of the MSU women distance athletes set to compete in the 1500 and 5,000 meters, their chances of taking the overall crown certainly look bright.
O'Connor, Rachele Schulist and Sara Kroll all advanced to the finals of the 1500 that will take place Sunday, while cross country All-Americans O'Connor, Schulist, Julia Otwell and Lindsay Clark are all entered in the 5,000 meters.
"Those are where we're going to get a lot of points," O'Connor said. "We're ready to duke it out. We know what we came here to do and we're just going to stay true to what we know and get as many points as possible."
But despite this outlook, Drenth, O'Connor and the rest of the women's team will be the first to point out that the women's success doesn't come from the distance events alone, but rather the program as a whole.
"Our team isn't just about distance runners," said Drenth, bringing up the team's success in the field events this weekend. "If we have a chance to win, it's going to come from a lot of places and that's what our objective was when we went into this, is to have a balanced team and try to score everywhere."
Check back Sunday night for a full update on the Big Ten Track and Field Championships. Follow us on Snapchat with username "thesnews" to see the championship from the sidelines.