GVSU track and field athletes spread out across country for several meets
The Lakers earned 28 provisional, two automatic qualifying marks
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.
The Grand Valley State track and field teams were spread out across the country from Thursday, April 13 through Saturday, April 15. Different athletes competed at five meets in states as far away as California.
Being split up didn’t slow down the production. In fact, GVSU posted the largest number of qualifying marks in a weekend yet this season. Twenty-eight provisional and two automatic marks were hit in total, putting many athletes in strong positions to attend the national meet in May.
Two of the meets GVSU attended were in California. Big results came out of both.
At the Mt. Sac Relays in Norwalk, California, Kendra Foley paced herself brilliantly in the women’s 10,000-meter run to finish 15th against top competition. Her time of 34:16.01 gives her an automatic berth to the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships.
Just a short drive to the north, in Azusa, California, two more big performances came out of the Laker camp. In the men’s 1,500-meter run, Wuoi Mach busted across the finish line with a time of 3:45.38. Not only was the mark enough to automatically qualify Mach for the national meet, but it also set a new GVSU record. Mach’s time bested Larry Julson’s mark of 3:47.23 set in 2014.
“The rabbit took the race out at an honest pace,” Mach said. “I tucked myself behind the leaders and just hung on as long as I could. I knew we were running fast, but wasn’t sure of the exact splits. I was surprised and relieved after crossing the line because I knew that time would get me to nationals. My indoor season didn’t go as I wanted, so I’m happy to be going back in the right direction.”
Mach wasn’t the only Laker to have the spotlight. Samora Nesbitt broke through in the men’s triple jump to also set a new school record. Nesbitt leapt 15.67 meters to take fourth place and break the previous GVSU record set in 2014 when Tendo Lukwago jumped 15.36 meters.
“The jump felt great,” the senior said. “I’m starting to put together three good phases and now it’s just about being consistent with it. I’m honored to be able to break the record. Tendo was a big role model to me my freshman year, so it means a lot to get his record.”
The men’s triple jump had several national names, such as Nike’s Christian Taylor, so Nesbitt was inspired to compete at his best.
“The competition was amazing,” Nesbitt said. “It was a great opportunity to jump with Christian Taylor, so I was just excited to be there.”
Elsewhere, at the Golden Grizzly Invite in Rochester, Michigan, the Laker sprinters and hurdlers posted seven top two finishes.
“Lots of progress was made from the last couple of weeks,” said sprints and hurdles coach Alan Dunson. “We had beautiful weather. Windy, but windy in a good way, and a lot of people had some breakthrough performances or some season bests.”
Highlighting the meet was the one-two punch of Tiara Wiggins and Breanna Luba in the women’s 100-meter hurdles. Wiggins took first with her 13.88-second finish and Luba took second with a time of 14.00 seconds. If the season ended today, both hurdlers would be on the cusp of going to the national meet.
“That hurdles race was the second fastest time of Tiara’s career and almost a lifetime best,” Dunson said. “For Luba, that was the fastest time of her career. They had pretty good days.”
Further east, at the Bison Outdoor Classic in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, the Lakers earned six provisional marks, highlighted by a first and second place finish in the 5,000-meter run.
On the women’s side of the 5,000, Madison Goen crossed the line in 17:15.14 to take first. In the men’s race, Brady Selner took second place with his time of 14:16.27.
At the same time, but many miles away in Pittsburg, Kansas, the GVSU pole vaulters were working hard to earn national marks of their own.
On the women’s side, Skylar Schoen and Lucy Buckholz each cleared the bar at 3.67 meters to earn provisional marks. For the men, Nate Fasbender and Jacob Battani both cleared at 4.78 meters to also earn provisional marks.
GVSU returns to Allendale, Michigan for their first home outdoor meet of the season on Friday, April 21, for the Al Owens Classic.
“The conference meet is at home this year, so next week, in my mind, is a conference preview,” Dunson said. “Being at home is a nice relief, but it’s also an opportunity for everyone to compete with a sense of urgency since we are going to be home for the conference championships. For 60 percent of the squad, it will be the last meet for them. So, this is a mini conference championship for people that don’t get to compete at conference.”