Michigan State Spartans’ Seven Open NCAA Track & Field Championships At TrackTown, USA

MSU Track and field.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.
MSU Track and field. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

Michigan State track & field sends seven Spartans to historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, for the NCAA Championships

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EUGENE, Oregon – The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships return to Historic Hayward Field for the fourth-consecutive year and 14th time in history from June 8-11. Seven Spartans have qualified for the championship event.

“Eugene represents the epicenter of track and field in the U.S.,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Walt Drenth. “Going to Eugene is special in a lot of respects. The weather is good, the crowd is good and it is a great track & field environment. It is something that is really appropriate for a national championship.”

Six of the seven MSU participants will begin competition on Thursday, June 9, while sophomore Katelyn Daniels will participate in the finals of the discus on Saturday, June 11.

Lauren Chorny (Pole Vault, 6/9 - 8:00 p.m.)

Aubrey Wilberding (800m#, 6/9 - 9:14 p.m.)

Katelyn Daniels (Discus, 6/11 - 6:05 p.m.)

Katie Landwehr (3,000m SC#, 6/9 - 8:02 p.m.)

Cynthia Watt (Hammer, 6/9 - 5:00 p.m.)

Rachele Schulist (10,000m, 6/9 - 10:08 p.m.)

Alexis Wiersma (10,000m, 6/9 - 10:08 p.m.)

# denotes semifinal, times are ET

“I think a number of them have a chance to score, and that is the objective,” Drenth said. “We don’t want to get to Eugene and have a one week field trip. We want to go there and do some damage. The performances speak for themselves. We knew they had a chance to make it through. We are training really well and excited to get to Eugene.”

Senior Lauren Chorny had the Spartans’ top finish at the NCAA East Preliminary in Jacksonville, tying for first in the pole vault. Chorny cleared four-consecutive bars on her first attempt, setting a new MSU record of 4.25m in the process. Chorny has cleared 4.20m or better on two occasions this season and took seventh at the Big Ten Championships. She won the 2014 Big Ten pole vault competition.

Daniels qualified with a second-place effort in the NCAA East Preliminary in the discus. She opened the discus competition with a career-best heave of 59.52m. The mark was more than a meter longer than any other throw in the opening round. Daniels led through the first two rounds before Kellion Knibb of Florida State notched a distance of 59.81m on her final attempt to take the lead. She has five top-five finishes, with two event wins in the discus. Daniels won the 2015 Big Ten title in the discus and was runner-up this season.

Michigan State has a pair of harriers in the 10,000m on Thursday night. Junior Alexis Wiersma crossed the line in fifth at the East Prelims, while senior Rachele Schulist was 10th. Wiersma led the way for MSU with a fifth-place effort, clocking a 34:24.49. Schulist spent much of the race among the field’s top five, but faded back into 10th with a time of 34:32.73. Both Wiersma and Schulist have garnered All-American accolades in cross country.

“I am super excited for it,” said Wiersma. “It has been something in the back of my mind. For many of us it has been a goal all throughout our careers. To finally make it is super exciting. We are all excited just for the opportunity to head out there and to compete with teammates alongside. I just want to stay true to myself, and do what I know how to do.”

Senior Katie Landwehr has had one of her best seasons to date, capturing the Big Ten title in the steeplechase and earning First-Team All-Big Ten honors. Landwehr clocked a 9:59.18 to take second at the prelims to advance to the championships in Eugene.

Senior Cynthia Watt was the first Spartan to punch her ticket to Eugene, taking eighth in the women’s hammer. Watt’s long of the day was recorded at 59.44m. She took sixth in the third flight, which made up 10 of the 12 finalists. Watt won the Big Ten title in the hammer on 2015.

Junior Aubrey Wilberding punched her ticket to the NCAA Championships for the first time with a career-best 2:04.08 in the 800m. Wilberding took fifth in the second heat of the 800m with the ninth fastest on the day. She ran a pair of personal records at the prelims to qualify for Eugene. Wilberding is the MSU record holder for the 800m indoors and has been on three school-record relay teams.

“It just means all of the hard work I have put in is finally coming together,” Wilberding said. “My coaches and I knew that I could get there, but it was just a matter of putting all of the pieces together. Being able to make it is just really exciting. It feels great to be able to go with a group of such talented girls. To be a part of this group makes me want to keep going.”

The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be live on ESPN and WatchESPN throughout three of the four days of competition. Coverage on Thursday starts on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. before switching to ESPN at 8 p.m. ESPN picks up action of Friday at 8:30 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. All times are ET.

Last year’s meet drew record numbers of television viewers to the ESPN network. The men’s and women’s championship finals averaged 579,000 and 534,000 viewers, respectfully – making those the two most-watched sessions of the NCAA championships ever on the ESPN channels.

At this year’s NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the men will compete on Wednesday, June 8 and Friday, June 10. The women take over on Thursday, June 9 and Saturday, June 11. The only overlap occurs in the combined events with the decathlon spilling over into Thursday, and the heptathlon starting on Friday.

This will be the 14th time that Hayward Field has been the site of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, more than any other venue in the history of the meet. As the spiritual home of track and field in the U.S., the NCAA will keep the annual championships in TrackTown USA through at least the 2021 season.

Home to the University of Oregon track and field team, Hayward Field has played host to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 1962, 1964, 1972, 1984, 1988, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Eleven current men’s and women’s NCAA championship meet records have been set in Eugene.