GVSU claims 5th, 15th straight indoor titles
The members of the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams know a thing or two about consistency.
GVSU lived up to its reputation as the conference’s most dominant program in the last decade, as the Laker men earned their fifth straight GLIAC Indoor Track & Field Championship on March 2 at Hillsdale College while the women took first for the 15th consecutive year.
“Our coaching staff had both teams mentally and physically prepared, which really set the tone,” said head coach Jerry Baltes, who earned his 23rd and 24th GLIAC Indoor Coach of the Year awards. “We’ve been preparing for (the GLIAC and national meets) since day one. It was great to see our hard work come together.”
On the men’s side, it was a highly anticipated matchup between the No. 5 Lakers and No. 3 Ashland University.
GVSU ran away with it.
The team was firing on all cylinders and tallied 162 total points, which was more than enough to outpace Ashland (138.5) and the third-place Dragons of Tiffin University (78).
“We really kept our heads in the game all throughout the meet,” GVSU sophomore thrower Darien Thornton said. “Our coaches preach competitive greatness — putting forth your best performance at the most crucial time.
“I think we executed that perfectly.”
Sophomore hurdler Sean Wells stood out for GVSU with a record-breaking performance in the 60-meter hurdles.
He finished with a time of 7.87 seconds, which was good enough to set a GVSU, GLIAC and Biermann Center record.
“Wells’ performance in hurdles was what started our momentum swing,” Thornton said. “It was a four-point swing as a result of his finish, and after that the team really just started clicking in all aspects.”
The women’s meet also featured somewhat of an anti-climatic ending as the No .1 Lakers coasted through the two-day competition with 159 points.
Ashland (112.5) finished second while the University of Findlay (75) rounded out the top three.
“We came into this meet with the attitude that we really just wanted to annihilate our competition,” senior Kalena Franklin said. “We knew that we were the favorites to win; it was up to us to compete to our fullest potential.”
Franklin, who won the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.36 seconds, had a successful meet individually. She took first in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.57 seconds and concluded the meet with a first-place finish in the 4×400 relay along with teammates Andrea Kober, Brittney Banister and Brittany Terry.
Franklin was tabbed both as the GLIAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Year and the Regional Athlete of the Year.
“It’s an amazing accolade; it just proves that all of my hard work has paid off,” she said. “More than anything, I’m just so proud of my relay team’s performance in the 4×400. It was an amazing feeling to take first in that race with my teammates.”
Senior pole vaulter Kristen Hixson, who was named the GLIAC women’s Field Athlete of the Year, also continued her impressive senior campaign by placing first with a vault of 4.35 meters.
GVSU will now turn its focus toward the NCAA Division II National Championships, which will be held on March 14 and 15 in Winston-Salem, N.C.