GVSU to clash with Ashland at GLIAC meet
Laker women enter as the top Division II team in nation
There have been eight GLIAC Indoor Track & Field Championship trophies awarded in the last four years, and all of them belong to head coach Jerry Baltes and the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams.
Baltes and the Lakers will hope to keep that streak alive while seeking their 15th straight women’s title and fifth straight men’s title on Friday and Saturday at the conference meet at Hillsdale College.
“This is what everyone has been looking forward to the entire year, what everyone has been working towards,” junior Nathan Fraeyman said. “We have full confidence that we can walk away with a championship, but it’s going to take a big effort from every group.”
There are multiple factors that go into winning a conference championship. No single competition will decide this year’s champion.
It’s the small details developed over the course of a season that often tip the scales.
“A big factor in who finishes first really comes down to who takes the lower end spots in each event,” Fraeyman said. “The winners of fourth through eighth places in each event really dictate the outcome. It can be a matter of inches between those places.”
All eyes will be on the battles between GVSU and Ashland University, as all four teams enter the weekend ranked as a top five team in the USTFCCCA ranks.
The No. 1 Laker women, who moved up to the top spot for the first time this season on Tuesday, will look to hold off an upset bid from No. 4 Ashland, while the No. 5 Laker men will try to pull of an upset of their own against the No. 3 Eagles.
“Its going take a big effort from both teams,” Baltes said. “Last year we got a big swing in momentum right off of the start which helped us stay in front. It’s going to be a good one on both sides. I know we’re all pretty excited.”
The Laker men have some added motivation in the matchup after finishing as the runners-up to Ashland at the outdoor meet in 2013. The Eagles outlasted GVSU 199-169.
“Everyone knows it’s going to be a battle with Ashland,” sophomore Darien Thornton said. “Specifically in throws, it’s 49-19 in projected points in favor of Ashland right now. If we can all pull our weight, I think we narrow that margin, which will help the overall team points out a lot as well.”
The Laker women will be the favorites to win this year’s indoor crown thanks in part to the long list of GVSU athletes in contention for individual titles.
Some of those names include seniors Kristen Hixson (pole vault), Kalena Franklin (60 meter hurdles) and the 4×400 relay team of Franklin, senior Andrea Kober, junior Brittney Banister and sophomore Brittany Terry.
“The great thing about this team is that we can get points from really any spot on any given day,” Baltes said. “We really want a big performance across the board in hopes of qualifying more people to nationals. That’s one of our main goals.”
The event will take place at the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center on Friday and Saturday at 10:00 a.m.