GO FOR THE GOLD
Laker athletes set sights on Olympic Games
With five and a half weeks until the 2012 Summer Olympics, the hands of Big Ben are approaching midnight and if the glass slipper fits, Grand Valley State University graduate student Betsy Graney will be making the trip to London to compete.
On June 25, Graney will be participating in the preliminary 3000-meter steeplechase race at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. If all goes well, she can qualify to compete in the finals on June 29. With a strong showing, a chance to make the Olympic squad and represent not only her school, but her country, is on the line
“It seems unreal and I am still trying to wrap my head around it,” Graney said. “I just kind of see it as another race and a good opportunity to get some experience competing at a really high level. I am not trying to put too much emphasis on the outcome, but I am just trying to be engaged in the race.”
Prior to arriving at GVSU, Graney completed her undergraduate career at the College of William & Mary. She made the U.S. Junior (age 20 and under) Track and Field Championships her freshman year, one of the experiences GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes believes will help her at the trials.
“She has a lot of great experience at a high level,” he said. “She is going into the trial with that high-level experience needed to excel.”
Now a graduate student at GVSU in the physical therapy program, Graney has focused not only on her studies, but her performance on the track as well.
“She has a full work load on that and still is getting her training in,” Baltes said. “She is a top notch student-athlete and person. I am excited see her have an opportunity to compete at this level.”
This season, Graney rewrote the Division II record book with the fastest time ever in the steeplechase, and her time of nine minutes, 53.85 seconds at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational earned her an invitation to the trials.
“It is a great opportunity and there are a lot of great runners in the field, but anything can happen,” Baltes said. “We are just going in there with the attitude to be ready to compete and give it her best shot. If things were to go well, she might make the U.S. team.”
Junior Sam Lockhart also recently qualified for the trials in the discus. Her provisional throw of 57.11 meters was solid enough to put her on the list of the top-24 athletes for the event.
“I am speechless when I talk about it,” Lockhart said. “I don’t even know how to explain it. It is just amazing to think last year when I threw 52 meters, to think that I was going to be throwing five meters farther than that and possibly going to the Olympic Trials, it was a reach.”
GVSU graduate student Rachel Patterson also looked to qualify for the trials as well in the 5,000-meter run as she competed in Indianapolis on June 9. Lockhart and Patterson must remain in the top 24, and are waiting to see if they will still qualify after meets from over the weekend.