Big results for GVSU at the Big meet
GVL / Robert Mathews
Joe Graves competing in the 5000 meter run on Friday during the GVSU Big Meet.
With the GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships quickly approaching, the Grand Valley State University track and field teams continue to push for success.
At the GVSU Big Meet, 23 Division II qualifying marks were hit by the Laker men and four GVSU indoor track and field school records were also toppled.
The GVSU women accumulated 24 qualifying marks and had two (both by senior thrower Sam Lockhart) automatic qualifiers set in the process. They’ve held the title of being the No. 1 Division II women’s program in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll for 20 consecutive weeks.
On Saturday, the men hit three more provisional qualifying marks, added five top-five finishes and a paced a meet record in the distance medley relay. The lady Lakers contributed nine additional provisional championship qualifying marks and two event victories.
Close to 2000 athletes participated, representing 64 institutions, 24 from within Michigan’s borders, and 11 states, including Calif., Colo., Ky., N.C., and W.Va.
“We had some real, real bright spots,” said GVSU head track and field coach Jerry Baltes. “There’s always some spots that you want to work on in any sport or game situation, but you know four school records on the guys side, one of them being the 200, which has been the only one we haven’t broken during my tenure.”
A 14-year-old record, originally set in 1999 by Courtney Hill, was bested in 21.85 seconds by freshman Torri Tillman, in his first attached race with GVSU.
Junior Kalena Franklin scored a personal record in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.39, the fourth fastest time run in the Division II ranks this season.
“Huge PR,” said Keith Roberts, GVSU’s spring, hurdle, and relay coach. “She’s been running 8.5 consistent. One thing we talk about is consistency, doing it every week. Running eight fifty is going to get you in the finals and if you can do that every week, we know you’re ready. Now end of the year, we’re starting to taper and peak – we’re ready for nationals.”
Seven of the top 25 and three of the top five Division II women’s teams and the No. 2 Division II USTFCCCA-ranked Ashland men were in attendance.
“They’re good, our guys are good. It’s going to be a great battle (throughout the rest of the season),” Baltes said. “This weekend is about focusing on what you can control and taking care of your business, trying to get some qualifying marks, moving up in national list, and we did that in a lot of spots and we’ve got to continue to do that.”
The GVSU Tune-Up, which will start this Friday at 3 p.m., will be the Lakers’ final opportunity to meet the few goals they have left.
“We still need to get a few more qualifiers,” said GVSU distance coach Nick Polk. “Next week, we’re going to take a crack at a couple more people. We need to get our lineup solidified.”
The entire team, staff included, anticipates a kick to come in the both the GLIAC, which will be held on Feb. 23 and 24, the last meet hosted in Allendale this season and NCAA Division II Championships, which will be run in Birmingham, Al.
“It’s been great for these student athletes and we keep progressing,” Baltes said. “Shaping up to be an incredible conference meet on the guys side in two weeks, so hopefully a lot of people want to see a great track meet, come out and support our Lakers.”