Three GVSU distance runners compete at Stanford Invitational

Zach Panning set a record in the 10,000-meter run as two others posted provisional marks

By Jacob Arvidson | 4/2/17 10:19pm

GVL / Courtesy - Alan Steible Zach Panning

Four-thousand six hundred miles of travel and competition against the best of Division I. That’s the Stanford Invitational.

Grand Valley State sent its three best distance runners into the fray to test themselves against the best and post some nationally competitive marks.

It worked.

Kendra Foley, Chris May and Zach Panning each posted strong times that will put them into position for the national meet in May.

Panning led the way with a record-shattering time in the men’s 10,000-meter run. The sophomore finished ninth in his heat with a time of 29:05.65. The time automatically qualifies Panning for the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championship Meet. The mark is also the fastest 10,000-meter run in GVSU history. Panning’s time replaces Nick Polk’s 2008 performance of 29:28.61 on the record board.

“He was right up there with some of the top runners in the country,” May said. “It was his first 10k on the track. It’s so much different than cross country and its different than any other race in track just because it’s so long. He went out and had a great race. He’s such a talented young runner and he has a bright future.”

Foley didn’t hit an automatic qualifying mark, but she came close. She crossed the finish line in 16:41.77 to earn a high provisional mark in the women’s 5,000-meter run.

May also showed well in the 5,000-meter run. His performance of 14:11.68 allowed him to easily coast to a provisional mark.

“It was the first race of the year for me so it wasn’t a bad time,” May said. “It will probably put me right on the bubble for nationals come the end of the season. If we feel like I’m not going to get in I’ll run it again, but if my time looks like it will hold up, I’ll shift my focus to the 10k. I was disappointed with the time because my personal record is faster than that, but I’ll take it.”

While the three distance stars were shining in the California sun, the rest of the GVSU team was competing in Charleston, Illinois at the EIU Big Blue Classic. It was the first outdoor meet of the year for the main bulk of the team.

“There were some positive results and some that we can build upon,” assistant coach Steve Jones said. “But for most of the people here today it was a rust-buster. First outdoor track meet, so we just have to get one under our feet and take a step forward from here.”

The field athletes started the meet off with five provisional marks Friday, March 31. Alexis Duncan, Dajsha Avery, Kyra Hull, Chris Saikalis and Mike Moon all placed in the top three of their respective events.

Avery took third in the women’s shot put with a toss of 14.04 meters. Moon took second in the men’s hammer throw, muscling the ball and chain 58.56 meters. Duncan leapt into second place in the women’s long jump with her 5.93-meter performance.

“It was the second farthest jump of Alexis’ (Duncan) life, so that was a nice open,” Jones said.

Hull won the women’s hammer throw with a heave of 58.22 meters and Saikalis took the top spot in the men’s shot put with a toss of 17.01 meters.

The next day, the field athletes were represented by Mary Hecksel. The freshman broke into the national conversation with a throw of 45.85 meters in the women’s discus. She would take fourth place and earn a provisional mark.

Breanna Luba rounded out the provisional marks in Charleston. She posted a time of 14.27 seconds in the prelims of the women’s 100-meter hurdles. Luba finished in fifth place in the event final.

The next stop for the Laker squad is Bowling Green, Kentucky. The push for national qualifying marks will continue Friday and Saturday, April 7-8 at the WKU Hilltopper Relays.

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