Lakers notch four school records at Big Meet
The second-to-last event of the regular season certainly lived up to its name for the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams.
The No. 2 Laker women and No. 5 Laker men felt right at home at the GVSU Big Meet on Friday and Saturday at the Kelly Family Sports Center, and combined to set four school records individually—to go with four automatic qualifying marks in addition to 47 provisional marks.
“This particular meet had a really big feel for us, much like the GLIAC and national meets,” said senior Kalena Franklin. “We came prepared and focused, which is what we really are focusing on at this point in the season.”
The Laker women had a field day on Friday by racking up 21 provisional marks.
Senior Kristen Hixson once again set the school record in the pole vault by clearing a height of 4.30 meters — eight inches higher than any other competitor in all of the NCAA Division II this year.
“She continues to prove why she’s one of the best at what she does,” head coach Jerry Baltes said. “There’s no off day for her. I know she is going to continue to work to keep improving on her marks.”
Franklin also proved why she’s one of the top athletes in the country by taking home two event victories in the 60-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash.
She crossed the finish line in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.33 seconds, then followed up that performance with a school-record time of 24.32 seconds in the 200-meter dash.
“I really feel like I had it going from the start of the day,” she said. “Our collective team focus showed up in not only my event but many others on our team as well.”
The 60-meter hurdles record was also broken on the men’s side, as sophomore Sean Wells had a ridiculous performance with a time of 7.98 seconds – the first time a Laker has ever finished the event in less than eight seconds.
Sophomore Ethan Barnes notched another school record for GVSU by crossing the finish line in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:49.05.
“I really didn’t even notice how fast I came in at,” Barnes said. “It was a really competitive field for the 800, I just stayed with it the entire race and came out with a considerable time.”
The performance earned him an automatic qualifying mark and a spot in the NCAA Division II National Championship meet.
He would finish second behind Ashland University’s Drew Windle, who set a Big Meet and Kelly Family Sports Center record with an impressive time of 1:46.52.
“Barnes really had a big day for himself,” Baltes said. “It’s always a great thing to see records broken, we had more of a few of them this weekend. Momentum is built off of performances such as this one.”
The ever-consistent men’s and women’s 4×400 relay teams also had a good showing, as both squads managed to hit provisional marks.
Seniors Nathan Hammersmith, Logan Hoffman and Mohamed Mohamed teamed up with freshman TJ Barnett to cross the finish line with a time of 3:13.18 while the women’s team of Franklin, senior Andrea Kober, junior Brittney Banister and sophomore Brittany Terry clocked in at 3:46.10.
The two-day meet was scored in the invite events as well as the distance medley relay, and the Lakers were victorious on both the men’s and women’s side.
The GVSU women cruised to 106.5 first-place points while the men’s team accumulated 66 points to edge Eastern Illinois University, which had 62.5.
The Lakers will be back in action in the GVSU Tune-Up this weekend — their final meet before championship season begins with the conference meet on March 2.