GVSU men come away victorious, but the women come up short
1,062 people came out to the Kelly Family Sports Center to watch the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track and field teams compete against some of the best talent within the state.
As anticipated, it was a busy day of track and field at GVSU. Two meets and five other schools, four of which were Division I, were hosted. 45 NCAA Division II qualifying marks were collected by the Lakers (21 by the men, 24 by the women) and a new record was paced by the GVSU men’s 4X400 team, consisting of juniors Nathaniel Hammersmith, Chris Teitsma, Mohamed Mohamed and Logan Hoffman.
The men’s team, ranked fifth heading into the meet, tasted victory for the first time officially this season, ousting Eastern Michigan by a score of 164.5 to 154.5. Central Michigan finished third with a score of 124, and Hillsdale took fourth with 61.
The women’s squad, ranked first heading into the day, had to settle for second place. The Lakers were 2.5 points back on Eastern Michigan with one final race to go. The 4X400 set-up as a thriller with the meet on the line. The Eagles held on with a score of 166.5 to the Laker’s 162. Central Michigan finished third with 97 points, Hillsdale fourth with 67.5.
On the day, 9 points were awarded to first place, the lady Lakers only needed 4.5.
“Eastern is really, really good, and has a really good squad,” said GVSU head coach Baltes. “I think they’ll compete for the MAC title. They’re ranked, I believe, ninth. On the flip side, I would have loved to beat them. I’m sure we could have on the ladies side gone one spot, you know flip-flop with Eastern Michigan – we take a few more points, take a few points away, there’s a different score. We just needed a couple of things to go our way here and there and we’re in a little better spot.”
The loss was disappointing, but freshman Katie Shaheen was able to trace a silver lining.
“It was definitely nice to keep everyone on their toes,” Shaheen said. “It motivated everyone and made us all work harder. I know that although some people might not say it, if we were way ahead some people would have been like ‘oh, we’re way ahead’, but Eastern gave us a really good run for our money. It brought a good team dynamic.”
Junior Kalena Franklin was once again one of the top performers, turning in a 8.53 second second-place finish in the 60-meter hurdle, but chose instead to defer to her male teammates.
“Our boy’s 4X4 broke the school record and they’re in fifth right now,” Franklin said. “The boys haven’t run for nationals yet, but they’re right there.”
Coach Baltes was unwilling to address the national championship picture quite yet.
“I don’t know national championship, but top four bring home a trophy so that’s something that you definitely want to strive for,” Baltes said. “We’re ranked fifth right now and those rankings usually hold true. If we can stay in that range, we should be in the mix.”
The 2013 season has gotten off to an undeniable strong start, but it’s just the beginning, A dual-meet with Saginaw Valley State is scheduled for Friday and both the men’s and women’s teams still have points of emphasis to consider. During an intermission nestled between the conclusion of the GVSU Quad Meet and the commencement of University of Michigan and Michigan showdown, GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes took the opportunity to huddle his team.
“What I want you guys to evaluate and accept is that every point matters,” Baltes said. “My point is that every place matters. That’s the point,”
The GVSU track and field teams will next be in action this Friday, when they travel to take on rival Saginaw Valley State in a dual meet at 4 p.m.