GV dominates Mike Lints Alumni Open
Hixon qualifies for nationals in pole vault with top Division II mark of year
The Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s indoor track teams proved why they were both listed among the top four teams in the initial USTFCCCA Division II National Team Computer Rankings by taking care of business in the Mike Lints Alumni Open.
Both GVSU teams were poised from the start, as the No. 2 Laker women were in search of their fifth first-place finish of the season, while the No. 4 men were looking to reclaim the top spot on the podium after finishing second in their previous two meets.
“The second meet back from winter break is always the toughest,” head coach Jerry Baltes said. “Our kids are pretty tired right now as we are in a pretty tough stretch. It was an overall great performance from our teams as a whole, which always goes a long way to winning meets.”
The women’s team showed no signs of fatigue.
In what may have been the most impressive victory of the afternoon, senior Kristen Hixon booked a trip to the 2014 NCAA Division II Indoor Championship by clearing a height of 4.15 meters in the pole vault, the top mark in all of the NCAA Division II so far this season.
“Kristen picked up right where she left off,” Baltes said. “It was great to see her have that good of a performance in her first meet back this season. We’re excited, and I know she’s excited to see what she will be able to accomplish from this point forward.”
Senior Kalena Franklin also had a big day and was part of three provisional marks, including a first-place finish with her teammates in the 4×400 meter relay.
Franklin, Brittany Terry, Andrea Kober and Lisa Galasso teamed up to cross the finish line at 3:51.21.
“We posted a pretty good time for this time of the year,” Franklin said. “It’s still early in the season and we still have a long way to go, but finishing first is always good for us and good for the team. Hopefully we can continue to build off of it.”
The Laker men also rose to the occasion by taking home first-place honors with an overall team score of 128.5, edging the University of Windsor by more than 35 points.
GVSU won several events, including the triple jump, high jump, weight throw, shot put and 60-meter hurdles.
“We’ve been really focused in practice as a whole,” sophomore Blake Donson said. “There’s still a number of things we can improve and work on, but we have to make sure that we keep grinding and not let up at any point.”
The Lakers were especially dominant in throwing events, especially the weight throw competition.
GVSU took home first, second, third and fourth place as sophomore Darien Thornton led the way with a throw of 19.53 meters. Donson finished second with a throw of 18.59 meters.
“The atmosphere for that event in particular was awesome,” Baltes said. “Our whole team really rallied around those guys. It was great to see them put together that type of performance.”
The Lakers will be back in action on Friday when they travel across the state to face rival Saginaw Valley State University in a dual meet at 3 p.m.