Men take first, women take second at GVSU Open
Several Lakers set personal bests at the meet
The Grand Valley State men’s track and field team put on a strong performance at home at the GVSU Open Friday, Jan. 20. They edged out South Florida by 19 points to take first place with a score of 130.33, while the women’s team took second, totaling 128 points and falling just short of Eastern Michigan.
“It was a step forward,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “We just want to make some steady progress every week. The distance runners opened up, we had some good performances there. We had some personal records across the board–season bests, lifetime bests–we just have to keep making steady progress and get better every time we come out.”
Samora Nesbitt set the tone in the men’s triple jump, leaping 14.68 meters to finish first and earn a provisional qualifying mark which puts him in position to qualify for the national meet.
Chris Saikalis added a strong showing from the throwers as he threw a 16.99-meter toss in the men’s shot put to take first place and hit a provisional mark.
Mike Moon also put up a large number for the throwers. His 19.47-meter mark in the weight throw was good for a provisional mark and second place. Only All-American and GVSU graduate Darien Thornton threw farther than Moon in the event.
The women’s throwing events also continued to produce consistent scores. Kyra Hull, Kaylyn Hill and Dajsha Avery each hit provisional marks in the weight throw for the second straight week with Hull’s 18.71-meter heave leading the way.
Avery and Hill finished at the top of the shot put field as well. Avery took the cake with her 14.45-meter throw, but Hill wasn’t far behind, taking second with her 13.45-meter toss.
“With throwing your numbers can incredibly change in one meet,” Hill said. “We need every single opportunity we can to try to hit a better mark. It’s so tight to get in for throws in Division II (for nationals) and GLIAC because everyone is about the same mark.
"We come out here and we throw every single meet because we need every single throw to move that mark.”
The women’s high jump also produced a strong showing as three Lakers hit provisional marks. Samantha Saikalis, Kathryn Mills and Lauren Sayre each cleared the bar at 1.65-meters. Saikalis won the tiebreaker and Mills took second in a jump-off.
“I feel good,” Saikalis said. “It’s what I wanted to jump today, so I’m content. This year it has been nice because we have a solid group of high jumpers and we’re all pretty much neck-and-neck going into it, so it really pushes us to do better. That inner-squad competition is good for us.”
The Lakers had several other big moments on the day, but they came on the road at Indiana University during the Gladstein Invitational.
“It was good stuff from them and hopefully that experience pays off for them down the road,” Baltes said.
Emmanuel Arop finished third in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.88 seconds, earning him a provisional mark. The time also puts him in the top five fastest times in Division II this season.
Gary Hickman took sixth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.13 seconds. The time was good enough for a provisional mark and puts Hickman in the top 10 in Division II.
On the women’s side, Angela Ritter, Rachel Walters and Tiara Wiggins all earned provisional marks and pushed closer to a place at the national meet. Ritter crossed the finish line for the 400-meter dash in 56.49 seconds to take fifth place. Fifth place also went to Walters in the mile when she crossed in 4:54.69. Wiggins took fifth place as well, finishing the 60-meter hurdles in 8.70 seconds.
The women’s 4x400-meter relay of Jessica O’Connell, Walters, Eskolunbe Puente and Ritter also earned a provisional mark, finishing in fourth place with a time of 3:47.21.
The Lakers are back in action at home Saturday, Jan. 27 at the Kelly Family Sports Center for the Mike Lints Alumni Meet.