Track and Field return home for annual GVSU Mike Lints Open
In a sport where every fraction of a second matters, it was the years that mattered in Friday night’s Mike Lints Alumni Open.
It was the 12th annual hosting of the event named in honor of the former Grand Valley State University student athlete and coach who was lost tragically in a car accident in October of 2001. Between 60 and 70 former Grand Valley State track and field athletes returned for the festivities.
“It’s important to me and it’s important to our alums that come back and celebrate Mike’s life and our program’s history,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “None of these guys knew Coach Lints, but it’s a way to honor him. He gave a lot to the university and our program as a student, as an athlete, and as a coach. It’s an important night for me and it’s a special night for us.”
Fifteen schools were in attendance including local schools Aquinas College, Calvin College, Cornerstone College and Hope College. With close to 800 athletes competing, the meet was one of the largest the Kelly Family Sports Center will host all year.
Friday’s meet was the fourth non-scored home meet of the season for the Lakers. The 2013 season is only in its warm-up stages, but so far the prognosis is strong. Sixteen NCAA Division II provisional qualifying marks were hit on Jan. 18, including five event victories.
“I thought it was a great second meet of 2013,” Baltes said. “I think we had some bright spots across the board and kids stepped up and got to keep moving forward. Our vaulters are vaulting very, very well right now and our throwers continue to throw well.”
Returning alumni agreed with the assessment.
“This team is hitting marks that we’ve never seen before,” said 2012 graduate Jovon Faulk. “They’re hitting them (now) where they should be at later in the season.”
Fellow graduate of the program Xavier Parnell has noticed the growth as well.
“They’ve really progressed since we left, bright future ahead of them,” he said.
The Lakers will get their season well into gear on Jan. 26 at 1 p.m., in what is sure to be a huge day in track and field in West Michigan. The seconds will officially count for the first time this season as GVSU hosts Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University and Hillsdale College for the GVSU Quad Meet. The University of Michigan and Michigan State University will follow up the act at 6 p.m with a dual meet held on the same Kelly Family Sport Center accommodations.
“I think our atmosphere’s good, our team energy (is good) so that’s the biggest thing early in the year,” Baltes said. “As long we keep the focus and the mindset and keep working hard, we’re going to do big things over the course of the year.”
Taking advantage of their years, returning alumni like Faulk and Parnell have also helped to provide motivation for the season ahead.
“We trying to just keep their (current GVSU track athletes) minds strong, that’s one thing,” Faulk said. “When people start second guessing themselves, they seem to mess up. You can’t over-think anything. You have to keep going forward, never backwards. Just run.”