The USTFCCCA published the list of All-Americans, which featured seven Spartans, following the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
EAST LANSING, Michigan - All-America honorees for the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field season were announced Monday afternoon by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Seven Spartans earned All-America status, led by sophomore Katelyn Daniels’ first-team accolade in the discus.
“We are recruiting people with the expectation that they will be a national-level athlete,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Walt Drenth. “I would expect to have a decent number of All-Americans. We have good kids, and we return some from this season. I expect to have a few more, and our expectations are high for everyone.
“We really try to create an environment at the nationals of doing what you are capable of. You have to do the simple things. That is what this group did this past weekend. They didn’t go outside their character and pursued their best. Ultimately, their performances came up because they didn’t spend time on things they couldn’t control.”
Daniels made the finals with a second-round effort of 57.72m, which was the sixth best of the field after three rounds. On the first throw of the finals, she skied a disc that stayed just inside fair territory for a lifetime best of 60.54m. The heave catapulted Daniels into fifth overall and bettered her MSU record. She is the third Spartan on the women’s side to earn All-America status in the discus and just the second to do so multiple times. Beth Rohl accomplished the feat from 2010-2013, while Ashley Lawrence was second-team in 2011.
“It is a tribute to coaching and culture,” Drenth said. “Our expectation is that throwing will be a strength of ours. We want elite throwers like Katelyn, Cynthia (Watt) and Beth Rohl before them. We want to excel in the throws and will continue in that direction. We have had and continue to have with coach (Blaine) Maag) really good coaches.”
Four Spartans earned spots on the second team, including two in the 10,000 meters. Senior Rachele Schulist and junior Alexis Wiersma finished the event in 11th and 16th, respectively. Both harriers clocked major personal records, breaking the 34-minute barrier for the first time with efforts of 33:24.97 and 33:49.21. Schulist has earned three second-team honors in outdoor track & field over her career (two in the 5,000m and one in the 10,000m), while this was Wiersma’s first track All-America distinction.
Joining Schulist and Wiersma on the second team were seniors Lauren Chorny and Katie Landwehr. Chorny finished the pole vault competition in a four-way tie for 11th, clearing 4.05m. She had cleared 4.05m on four occasions this season, highlighted by an MSU record mark of 4.25m at the NCAA East Prelims.
Landwehr earned a spot in the finals of the steeplechase at the NCAA Championships, taking fifth in her semifinal heat with a time of 9:59.77. The 2016 Big Ten champion finished 12th in the finals after taking a fall over the water jump early into race. Prior to the stumble, Landwehr positioned herself among the field’s top-six competitors. The Spartans have had an All-American in the steeplechase eight of the past 10 years, dating back to 2006 (Landwehr – 2016, Leah O’Connor – 2012-15, Nicole Bush – 2006-07 and 2009).
“They see the possibilities and understand what needs to be done to be successful,” said Drenth. “This group has seen the possibilities of those in front of them and is creating their own identity to raise the bar even further. We have been fortunate with athletic kids. It is something we work on. We spend time developing steeplers and training, and we do the same for all of our events.”
Making appearances on the honorable mention list was senior Cynthia Watt and junior Aubrey Wilberding. Watt’s opening heave of 58.59m in the hammer was good for 20th overall. She was a second-team All-American a year ago in the event. Wilberding clocked a 2:09.92 in the 800 to finish 23rd overall. The school record holder for the indoor 800m ran a pair of personal records in the East Prelims to punch her ticket to Eugene.
Student-athletes earned first-team USTFCCCA All-America honors by virtue of finishing among the top-8 in their events, including as a member of a relay, at this past weekend’s NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, at Historic Hayward Field.
“I think anytime you get an elite experience, be it an NCAA Championship or a U.S. team, it broadens your horizons,” Drenth said. “You learn how well people run and perform, and it allows you to raise your bar. You can hear us talk about it, but you need to experience it to allow great growth.”
Second-team All-America honors go to those who finish ninth through 16th and honorable mention is 17th through 24th.
Michigan State finished with a total of seven All-Americans. See below for breakdown by student-athlete:
Katelyn Daniels – Discus (5th, First Team)
Lauren Chorny – Pole Vault (T-11th, Second Team)
Rachele Schulist – 10,000m (11th, Second Team)
Katie Landwehr – Steeplechase (12th, Second Team)
Alexis Wiersma – 10,000m (16th, Second Team)
Cynthia Watt – Hammer (20th, Honorable Mention)
Aubrey Wilberding – 800m (23rd, Honorable Mention)
The seven individual All-America honors surpass what the Spartans did a year ago, as five represented MSU women’s program as All-Americans in 2015 in addition to the 4x100-meter relay team.