Several GVSU athletes post high marks at WKU Hilltopper Relays
High jumper Hunter Weeks earned an automatic qualifying mark for nationals
Bowling Green, Kentucky turned slightly Laker Blue Saturday, April 8.
Grand Valley State track and field sent its sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers and throwers to compete at the Western Kentucky Hilltopper Relays, where several athletes posted high marks.
“It was a great stepping stone for a lot of our team,” said assistant and jumps coach Steve Jones. “Overall, it was a great place to be after last week’s meet.”
Jones’ jumping unit led the way to GVSU’s strong meet. Hunter Weeks, Samora Nesbitt and Alexis Duncan combined to produce one automatic qualifying and two provisional qualifying marks for the national meet in May.
Weeks finished second in the men’s high jump. He cleared the bar at a career-best 2.17 meters to earn an automatic qualifying mark. The sophomore is now guaranteed an appearance at the 2017 NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships.
“Being my opening meet, I wasn’t expecting such a good day,” Weeks said. “I came in at 2.01 meters, cleared it, then also cleared 2.06 and 2.11 on my first attempt. I passed on 2.14 meters because I was feeling so good and coach Steve (Jones) felt I could clear 2.17 with ease. So, we skipped 2.14 and I cleared 2.17 on my first attempt.”
Eastern Kentucky’s Tequan Claitt set the bar high with his first-place height of 2.28 meters. Jones believes the high-caliber competition helped fuel Weeks’ performance.
“Hunter was really able to jump in a stellar competition,” Jones said. “He was able to jump against somebody that’s a Division I top athlete and it pushed him to jump higher heights.”
Duncan continued her strong outdoor campaign with a 5.86-meter leap in the women’s long jump. She finished third in the event and earned a provisional mark in the process.
“She has had solid meets the last two weeks,” Jones said. “After a little bit of a disappointing indoor year, she’s taken some major strides outdoors.”
Nesbitt earned another provisional mark for the jumpers. The senior took fourth in the men’s triple jump when he posted a mark of 14.93 meters.
“Samora is improving every week,” Jones said. “He’s trying to do the little things technically to be ready at the end of the year.”
The jumpers weren’t the only Lakers to leave Kentucky with good marks. The throwers didn’t have any automatic marks, but combined to earn four provisional qualifiers.
Two of the four came in the women’s hammer throw. Kyra Hull took second with her toss of 55.67 meters, while Kaylyn Hill finished fourth with her 53.63-meter throw.
On the men’s side, Mike Moon’s 58.11-meter heave in the hammer throw was good for second place and Chris Saikalis’ 17.17-meter throw in the shot put took first place.
Angela Ritter also earned a provisional mark in the women’s 200-meter dash, finishing fourth with a time of 24.25 seconds. The junior sprinter then joined Breanna Luba, Chant’e Roberts and Sarah Beulla to earn a provisional mark in the 4x100-meter relay. Ritter and Roberts returned in the 4x400-meter relay, combining with Jessica O’Connell and Duncan to earn another provisional mark.
On Thursday, April 13, the Laker squads will begin to split and go four different ways. The jumpers and distance runners will take a trip out to California, the pole vaulters will head to Kansas, the sprinters will stay in Michigan and compete at Oakland University and a few more athletes will travel to Pennsylvania to participate at Bucknell’s Bison Outdoor Classic.