Provisional marks met by men, women during Bob Eubanks Open
It was a successful weekend inside the Kelly Family Sports Center for the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track teams.
The top-ranked women, coming off of a national championship in 2012, hit nine qualifying marks on Friday at the Bob Eubanks Open. Junior Kristen Hixson won the pole vault with an automatic qualifying mark of 4.09 meters, her third highest height cleared during her college career and the highest mark in Division II this year.
A pair of Lakers scored provisional qualifying marks in the 60 meter dash, as junior Brittney Jackson won the event with a time of 7.67 seconds. Sophomore Michaela Lewis finished fifth at 7.75 seconds.
Head Coach Jerry Baltes was pleased with the level of competition from his team, which had not seen action since the end of the fall semester.
“The most important thing is that we get back and get to training,” Baltes said. “The ones who did their work over the break had some great competitions yesterday. Otherwise, it’s just going to take a little while here to get back in the swing of things. The thing I really wanted to see (this weekend) was toughness, focus, and competing hard and supporting one another, and I think we did that pretty well.”
Senior Sam Lockhart finished first in the shot put and the weight throw, hitting an automatic qualifying mark in the latter with a toss of 20.43 meters. She won the shot put with a provisional qualifying throw of 14.09 meters.
On the men’s side, field events played a major role as well, with seven of the eight provisional qualifying marks coming from throwers and pole vaulters.
The Laker trio of seniors Kevin Leland and Raphael Gelo, as well as junior Bret Myers finished within the top eight in the pole vault after all three cleared 4.77 meters.
Three Lakers also hit the mark in the weight throw, with freshman Darien Thornton earning a fourth place finish after a toss of 18.39 meters. Redshirt freshman Blake Donson hit 18.36 meters, good for a fifth place finish, while senior Donny Stiffler claimed sixth after a toss of 17.97 meters.
Donson accomplished one of his early season goals on Friday by hitting the provisional mark.
“My first goal was to hit the provisional on the weight and I did that first meet,” Donson said. “So that was really nice to get that off my chest and get ready for the upcoming meets.”
While the three meets that the teams have had to this point have all been non-scored competitions, Thornton knows that the experience gained is invaluable, and hopes that it will pay off down the road.
“It’s a great thing to have success now and energy that will build up to the bigger meets,” Thornton said. “Once we get to conference we’ll have that energy and we’ll know where we’re at and hopefully we can just keep going farther and then get to nationals.”
The Laker men and women will have a quick turnaround before the Mike Lints Alumni Open in Allendale on Friday, starting at 2:00 p.m.