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Track and Field teams show early speed

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Photo: GVL Archives / Grand Valley Lanthorn

GVL / Archive
Junior sprinter Brittney Jackson at the GVSU Early Bird Meet

The season may have just started, but the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track and field teams are already qualifying for the NCAA Division II Championships.
Lakers racked up a combined 15 event victories and 18 NCAA Division II provisional qualifying marks in the GVSU Holiday Open on Dec. 14.

The men’s side brought home five of the 15 victories and seven of the NCAA provisional marks, with wins by junior Logan Hoffman in the 400-meter dash, redshirt freshman Ethan Barnes and junior Jeremy Wilk in the 800-meter run, the 4×400 meter relay team of junior Nathaniel Hammersmith, redshirt freshman Daniel Pung, junior Mohamed Mohamed, and Hoffman.

Senior Donny Stiffler was victorious in both the shot put and weight throw, and junior Tendo Lukwago hit a provisional mark in the triple jump.

While some athletes were able to reach qualifying provisional marks, their spots are not yet guranteed in the national meet. This serves as a motivation factor for the athletes for the remainder of the season.

“Although I hit a qualifying provisional mark, I have not guaranteed myself a spot at nationals yet,” Hoffman said. “I have to keep working to hit a better mark to make sure I get into the meet. I’ve just got to keep working and hopefully my times will drop.”

The women’s side had an even stronger showing than the men’s, totaling 10 event victories and a total of 11 NCAA provisional marks. Senior Sam Lockhart hit provisional marks in both the shot put and weight throw, senior Jamie Smith, junior Alyssa Zokoe, and redshirt freshman Laura Schroeder all in the weight throw, junior Kristen Hixson in the pole vault, junior Alisha Weaver in the high jump, junior Brittney Jackson in the 60-meter dash, Kalena Franklin in the 60-meter hurdles, junior Lisa Galasso in the 800-meter run, and finally the 4×400 meter relay team of freshman Brittany Terry, junior Andrea Kober, Galasso and Franklin.

The top women’s performer was Sam Lockhart, who paved the way for the entire team, winning both the shot put (toss of 15.20m) and the weight throw (throw of 20.88m) and hitting NCAA Division II automatic qualifiers in both, which secures her spot in the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships for both events.

“Individually I hope to perform to the best of my ability to help my team defend a title,” Lockhart said. “As long as everyone stays healthy and focused, we should be able to compete for a national title.”

Both teams are lead by head coach Jerry Baltes, who is in his 14th year at GVSU. Baltes stressed that balance is the key to his teams’ performance so far this year.

“One thing we’ve always taken great pride in, is being balanced across the board,” Baltes said. “We have positives and strengths in all the event groups. I think our strength is that we are fairly strong across the board.”

The Lakers will next compete at the Kelly Family Sports Center at GVSU in the Bob Eubanks Open on Jan. 11 and 12.

emcmillin@lanthorn.com



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