GVSU men, women win Alumni Meet
Thornton breaks own weight throw record for second straight week
GVL / Sara Carte Grand Valley Track and Field vaulter, Ryan Camp, runs to vault during the GVSU Mike Lints Alumni Open Meet in the Kelly Family Sports Center on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016.
Broken records are becoming a weekly occurrence for Grand Valley State’s Darien Thornton.
His throw of 22.42 meters during the GVSU Mike Lints Alumni Meet on Jan. 30 is the third-longest throw in NCAA Division II men’s weight throw history. It breaks his previous GVSU record of 22.06, set during the GVSU Open on Jan. 22.
Thornton’s record effort was one of many shining moments for the Lakers. The men and women both cruised to victory by comfortable margins. GVSU met 26 NCAA provisional qualifying marks in addition to Thornton’s improved automatic mark.
“They’re going to have to keep giving Darien conference athlete of the week,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “He just keeps throwing farther and farther.”
Skylar Dantzler, Jessica O’Connell, Eskolunbe Puente and Angie Ritter improved on their previous provisional mark in the women’s 4x400 meter relay with a time of 3:49.14.
“We changed things up a little bit today with the order,” O’Connell said. “I think we clicked pretty well. I was surprised by Esko. I knew we had a pretty good handoff and when I saw her come around the corner she had caught up to the girl in front of her, so that was really nice to see.”
Baltes is convinced the relay team can go even faster.
“We’re not at full strength,” he said. “We’ve got other people that were on the 4x400 last year in Breanna Luba and Alexis Duncan who are coming off injuries. We’ve got some good parts to go to. Hopefully next week we can progress even further.”
Three Lakers placed in the top four of the men’s 3000 meter run, each earning provisional marks.
Brady Selner distanced himself during the final two laps to finish in 8:20.53 and win the race. Chris May came from behind in the last 100 meters to steal second, and a lunge at the finish line gave Nate Orndorf the provisional mark by .01 seconds.
“Brady’s coming along,” Baltes said. “He ran a really nice race. He ran a great last 800 meters and really charged it and brought it home strong. With the two other provisionals, it just gives us flexibility at conference to run more guys. That was really good to see.”
The women’s 800 meter run produced three more provisional marks for GVSU. Katie Shaheen led the way for the Lakers, earning second place with a time of 2:13.84. Rachel Walters, who led for most of the race, was only half-a-second behind. Natalie Nelson finished in 2:15.27, which was good for fifth place.
“Katie Shaheen did a really good job leading us,” Baltes said.
Samora Nesbitt took control of the men’s triple jump, leaping 14.36 meters to secure first place and a provisional mark.
“This is the first time he’s been full approach,” Baltes said. “He was just short approach last time, so that was a step forward. He gets a provisional mark and hopefully he can keep progressing.”
Ritter reached a provisional mark in the women’s 200 meter dash for the first time this year, but she insists there’s room for improvement.
“I felt a lot better today than I did last week,” she said. “But you always feel like you can do better no matter what. I need to keep improving, but I feel like that just happens as you get closer and closer. When you run against faster people it just pushes you more. Last week, the next-fastest were two seconds behind me, so I didn’t feel like I had anyone to chase and no one was chasing me.”
While the GVSU Mike Lints Alumni Meet was underway in the Kelly Family Sports Center, two GVSU athletes were competing across the state in Saginaw Valley’s Jet’s Pizza Invitational. Tyler Pavliga and Tor’i Brooks took part in the men’s heptathlon. Brooks broke the GVSU record with a score of 5,046 and finished third overall. Pavliga finished in fifth.
Some of the Laker student-athletes will head to South Bend, Indiana to take part in the Blue and Gold Invitational on Feb. 5. Others will travel to Hillsdale, Michigan to compete in the Hillsdale Wide Track Meet. All team members will reconvene on Feb. 12 for the GVSU Big Meet in the Kelly Family Sports Center.