Saturday, June 15, 2024

MSU Track and Field athletes to participate at regionals, Heath Baldwin straight to Olympic Trials

May 24, 2024
MSU Track and Field head coach Lisa Breznau speaking to her team during a huddle at an event. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Spartan Athletics.
MSU Track and Field head coach Lisa Breznau speaking to her team during a huddle at an event. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Spartan Athletics.

After a successful season, 17 Michigan State Track and Field athletes will be competing in the NCAA East First Round, also known as regionals, in Kentucky this week to potentially qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

If Michigan State places within the top 12 spots in its respective events, the team will advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, also known as nationals, which will start on June 5 and will occur in Oregon. 

One MSU athlete competing in regionals is fifth-year student Lauren Freeland, who will be competing in the 1500-meter distance run.

Freeland competing in regionals is part of a long process she has had for a few years. Right before her sophomore year, Freeland had knee surgery and used most of her sophomore year to “recover from (the injury) and get back to running.” Then, in her junior year, she was back, and had a breakthrough year with the program.

Freeland qualified for regionals for the first time and has since “kept the ball rolling." Regionals, she said, will be difficult this season because of the number of women who have also had breakthrough seasons.

“It’s definitely going to be competitive to get to (nationals),” Freeland said. “But it’s also cool to be in a space where you can confidently say that you have a chance at making it.”


However, Freeland said, through her journey, the most important thing that’s helped her recover and become a star athlete is her mindset.

“Throughout my time here I’ve learned what works better for me is having a different mindset where the goals are a little bit more process-based instead of outcome-based,” Freeland said. “I think that’s really helped a lot this season, just trying to focus on how I become more consistent with workouts and how I become more confident in races. It’s translated into some pretty cool outcomes.”

One Michigan State athlete, graduate student Heath Baldwin, is skipping regionals and nationals so he can prepare to qualify for the 2024 Olympics. Baldwin has been with Michigan State for three years and has etched his name into NCAA history in that time.

Performing in the decathlon, Baldwin does the 100-meter run, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter run, 110-meter hurdles, discus throwing, pole vault, javelin and 1500-meter run.

In his time as a Spartan, Baldwin has been awarded a spot on the NCAA Indoor First Team All-American, NCAA Outdoor First Team All-American, Academic All-Big Ten team and was awarded the MSU Athletics Male Athlete of the Year, among other achievements and awards. 

In high school, however, he wasn’t a decathlete and had to learn to adjust to performing all 10 events while in college.

“It was kind of new to me- I had to learn how to pole vault, and do all the throwing events,” Baldwin said. “It was a process for me over the past five years, kind of learning some of those new events and figuring them out as time went on.”

Baldwin is forgoing the events that MSU is participating in so he can train for the USA Olympic Trials, which start on June 21. There, he will compete against the best collegiate decathlon athletes in hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics.

​​“I have the next month to get my body ready to compete at the Olympic trials, but I’ve been competing all year long, so I feel really experienced. I know what’s working for me,” Baldwin said. “I feel confident competing against guys that are on that stage, and I feel like I’m ready to take things to the next level here and hopefully take a good shot at making the team in June.”


Lisa Breznau is the current head coach of the Track and Field team and has been part of the MSU community since 2010. She said that overall, this season was “one of our best outdoor showings in a really long time,” and part of the reason is that “the energy we’re developing” as a team has become more cohesive throughout the season.

Breznau said Baldwin, a track and field powerhouse, has fully developed into the athlete he is today mostly because of his personality and energy while competing with MSU.

“He has a really even personality,” Breznau said. “He’s just sort of embraced it all and kind of just said, ‘I’m going to be coachable, I’m going to be a great teammate and be at my best.’”

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Even though she is focused on Baldwin’s accomplishments, Breznau is mainly concentrated on the team’s performance at regionals. She said that the whole team will have to step up its game and become a cohesive unit in order to finish inside the top 12 and make it to nationals.

“We’ve got to keep that bar high,” Breznau said. “We’ve got to raise the bar and all aspects of what we’re doing and who we are.”

Regionals take place until May 26, while nationals go from June 5 to June 8. Tracking live results for regionals is available here.


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