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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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GVSU closes out 2012 with Holiday Open

The Grand Valley State University indoor track and field coaching staff is making lists, checking them twice and will probably find out who is right for their men’s and women’s teams when they host the GVSU Holiday Open on Friday at the Kelly Family Sports Center.

With the Laker Early Bird under their belt, each squad has had a performance to assess where they are in their training. By the time the gun goes off for the GVSU Holiday Open, they will also have had two weeks to practice and work toward better marks.

“Early on, you are just working through the training cycle,” said GVSU men’s and women’s head coach Jerry Baltes. “I think what we saw that first meet is that we definitely have a lot of work to do, but there is plenty of potential. It’s a process, take it day-by-day and hopefully you get a little bit better each meet.”

The GLIAC conference championships and NCAA indoor track and field national championships are obviously a couple of the most important meets of the season. The GVSU Big Meet, which attracts top competition from across the country, is as well. But the GVSU Holiday Open is not to be taken lightly. It will be the last meet for the Lakers until Jan. 11 and it provides one last chance for each student-athlete to compete before holiday break.

“In this meet, it would be good to hit a provisional time, or if you could hit an automatic time, then obviously all the better,” said junior sprinter Logan Hoffman. “We’ll go on a down cycle, just a little bit, through the Christmas season. Then we’ll pick it back up and come back early from break to practice.”

Hoffman is part of the men’s 4×400-meter relay team that fell a couple spots short of the national championships last season. Along with redshirt freshman Daniel Pung and juniors Mohamed Mohamed and Nathaniel Hammersmith, they anchor the men’s team this year and are looking to be a force in getting the men back on the national stage.

They will be looking to improve on their third-place finish in the Laker Early Bird, where they crossed the line in 3 minutes, 17.39 seconds. The men can also learn a thing or two from the women and the consistency they have displayed as defending NCAA champions.

For some people, heading into holiday break will mean staying active on their own. They will need to be equally motivated to training in this winter hiatus after all the work they have put in up to this point in the season.

“Now everyone is getting more consistent. Everyone is more comfortable, even with the little things they need to work on,” said senior thrower Sam Lockhart. “There are also things they need to work on over the winter break and we will probably be doing a little more conditioning.”

In a week that features final exams, the GVSU Holiday Open could be that competitive release for the student-athletes after several stressful days of studying. Even with practice and other commitments, there remains one message and focus instilled by the coaches.

“The most important thing we stressed this past week and over next week is academics and making sure we take care of those,” Baltes said. “It is important to try and go out and finish the semester on a positive note. Headed into break, hopefully we can keep our kids focused and get as much work as possible in.”

zsepanik@lanthorn.com



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