Track and field has six runners represent GVSU at Raleigh Relays

It was the first distance running event of the outdoor season

By Jacob Arvidson | 3/26/17 9:38pm

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Wuoi Mach runs in the Men's 1,500 meter race on the first day of competition. Grand Valley State University hosts, for the second year in a row, the annual NCAA Division II Track and Field Championship competitions Thursday, May 21, 2015 through Saturday, May 23, 2015.

Six Grand Valley State distance runners stretched their legs for the first time in the 2017 outdoor season.

The Lakers sent three men and three women to the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, North Carolina to compete Friday, March 24.

“It’s a great competitive opportunity,” said distance coach Aaron Watson. “It’s a really competitive meet and all of our kids were in good heats for where they’re at and what they’re capable of.”

Kelly Haubert kicked things off in the women’s 5,000-meter run. Crossing the line in 17:06.58, the junior earned her first provisional qualifying mark of the season. The performance makes her eligible to compete at the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships in May.

“I was pleased with my first race back of the outdoor season,” Haubert said. “I ran equivalent to my personal best 5k indoor. Overall, the race was pretty packed and aggressive, which played in my favor. I enjoyed the experience and look forward to running the 10,000-meter race in a few weeks.”

Wuoi Mach represented the men in the 1,500-meter run. The junior opened his season with a time of 3:53.38, coming close to his first provisional mark of the year.

“Wuoi’s race was very tactical. It wasn’t a fast race up front,” Watson said. “We weren’t worried about times so much after that first lap because it was apparent it wasn’t going to be a super fast heat, but it’s good to practice tactics you might see at a national championship.”

Amy Creutz and Rachel Bendewald took to the track in the women’s 1,500-meter run. Creutz finished in 4:34.81 and Bendewald clocked in a few seconds later at 4:39.65. Both fell just short of the provisional qualifying mark in the event, with Creutz missing by less than a second.

“She competed for us in the fall and helped us win that cross country national championship, but didn’t have any indoor eligibility so she just trained all winter,” Watson said. “It’s great to get a person like her back. She’s a multi-time All-American and someone who really brings a lot to the program. It’s good to have her back in uniform.”

In the men’s 5,000 meters, Trevor Sharnas posted a time of 14:56.43 in his first race of the year, coming up a few seconds short of a provisional mark.

“Nate Orndorf was an All-American in the 10K last year and I think he’ll have a solid 5K this year,” said teammate Zach Panning in a preseason interview. “Look for him to double at outdoor nationals and score some points.”

Orndorf showed a glimpse of what Panning spoke of, cruising across the finish line with a time of 30:35.94 to end the meet on a high note for GVSU. His time earned the Lakers their second provisional qualifying mark of the meet, but Watson sees much stronger performances ahead for the senior.

“Nate was hoping for faster,” Watson said. “It was about a minute slower than his personal record. He was hoping for more, but it’s still a provisional mark, so not the worst run in the world by any stretch.”

So far, only 12 GVSU athletes have debuted this outdoor season. Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, will be the days the rest of the team gets its season underway. The Lakers will head a few hours southwest to compete at the EIU Big Blue Classic in Charleston, Illinois. At the same time, distance stars Kendra Foley, Zach Panning and Chris May will travel west to Stanford, California to take part in the Stanford Invite.

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