Thomas soars, GVSU track and field wins Mike Lints Alumni Open
Isaiah Thomas set a school record in the long jump as the men, women took easy wins
Isaiah Thomas’ new record in the long jump highlighted a strong outing for the Grand Valley State track and field teams as they cruised to victories at the Mike Lints Alumni Open Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Kelly Family Sports Center.
The men tallied 114.66 points to beat runner-up Indiana Tech (65). The women totaled 120.25 points as they edged out GLIAC opponent Hillsdale (83.25).
Thomas set the tone with his 7.66-meter long jump performance. It is the second time this year Thomas has set a new GVSU record in the event. This time he broke the 7.61-meter mark he posted less than two months ago. The performance was also good for an automatic qualifying mark, further cementing his place at the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championship meet.
“The past two weeks I’ve been having problems with my steps,” he said. “We moved back three feet today on my approach. It was more mental than anything, but it felt good. I’m excited and I’m steadily improving and getting better each week.”
Angela Ritter also had herself a strong day. The junior posted first place finishes and provisional qualifying marks in both the 60 and 200-meter dashes. Her 7.69-meter mark in the prelims of the 60-meter dash ended up being the top mark of the day in the event and her 24.60-second 200 blew away any semblance of competition.
“I was really happy with the 200,” she said. “Coach said that was the fastest time I’ve ever run in our building and for indoor that’s a pretty good time. I was just happy with how I attacked the race and how I put it together. I hadn’t run that kind of time until late last year in indoor season, so after today I’m really excited going forward.”
GVSU’s top men’s sprinter, freshman Emmanuel Arop turned in his fastest time of the year in the 60-meter dash, finishing in first place with a time of 6.85 seconds.
On both sides of the 60-meter hurdles, GVSU ran away from the competition. Gary Hickman took first for the men with his provisional mark of 8.15 seconds. For the women, Tiara Wiggins and Breanna Luba both finished in 8.71 seconds to take first and second.
In the men’s high jump, Hunter Weeks continued a strong season, clearing the bar at 2.14 meters. The provisional mark further solidifies his chance at reaching the national meet. Hitting 2.17 meters would make it a certainty. Brandon Bean also posted a provisional mark in the men’s high jump, clearing the 2.03-meter bar.
The men’s 4x400 relay team earned a provisional mark, but they did it the hard way. Coming into the first handoff, GVSU’s TJ Burnett and two Indiana Tech runners were neck and neck. Neither team was willing to give up any ground to ensure a clean handoff. Instead, none of the handoffs were clean, yet no team dropped their baton.
“Usually when someone falls or you see a lot of jumbling up, someone that takes the baton falls or someone just drops it,” Burnett said. “A lot of people can’t handle themselves in a collision like that, but I feel like we did a nice job getting the baton through, even though it was ugly.”
The three teams slammed into one another, sending an Indiana Tech runner flying. Burnett stumbled through the contact as he handed the baton off to Thomas Capers, and though the handoff was unconventional, it never dropped and the race continued for GVSU.
“There was a little collision,” Capers said. “People were pushing each other, pushing my back, and I read (Burnett) wrong a little bit. The main thing was the guy kept pushing me in the back, causing a collision. A couple people fell, but I still got the baton and ran.”
The collision caused GVSU to fall into third place and Capers ran hard to catch up. Chaz Porter and Jaylin Golson did the same to finish the race for the Lakers, crossing the line in 3:17.06. Fighting through a near disaster to still earn a national qualifying time is something the relay team is proud of.
“I know once we all run to the best of our ability, and get our handoffs around, we’re going to be dangerous,” Burnett said.
Several GVSU throwers also went south to Findlay, Ohio for the Findlay Classic the same day. Dajsha Avery earned a provisional mark in the women’s shot put with her 14.67-meter toss, while Chris Saikalis did the same on the men’s side with a 17.15-meter toss. Kyra Hull earned a provisional mark as well in the women’s weight throw, posting a distance of 14.67 meters.
The Lakers will split up Friday, Feb. 3 as some athletes head to South Bend, Indiana for the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational, while others travel to Hillsdale, Michigan for the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic.