GVSU women's track and field collects 18th consecutive GLIAC Championship, men claim third
Laker women tally 185.5 team points while men score 136.5
Eighteen and counting.
The Grand Valley State women’s track and field team produced dominant performances across the board during the three-day GLIAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships to win their eighteenth consecutive conference title in front of a home crowd Wednesday, May 3, through Friday, May 5.
The Laker women tallied 185.5 team points to more than double second-place Findlay (87). Head coach Jerry Baltes was voted GLIAC Coach of the Year for his efforts with the Laker women.
“We get good individuals,” he said. “We get good student athletes who are talented and competitive and work hard. I’m very proud of our ladies and their ability to keep things rolling. It could be very easy to put it in cruise control and not get the job done.”
The GVSU men finished third overall with 136.5 points behind national No. 1 Ashland (175) and reigning indoor national champion Tiffin (162).
“Both of those teams are very, very good,” Baltes said. “It was going to take a perfect three days for us.”
The Laker teams combined to win 10 events total, in addition to seven second-place finishes.
Involving herself in four of those podium finishes was sprinter Angela Ritter. The junior took home the gold medal in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the 4x400-meter relay, as well as the silver medal in the 4x100-meter relay.
“It’s always a humbling feeling,” she said. “GLIACs is always kind of a scary weekend for me because it’s event after event after event just testing all my training and being able to come back after each event. It’s a good feeling knowing hard work has paid off.”
Ritter joined Rachael Walters, Jessica O’Connell and Chant’e Roberts in the 4x400 relay. Their time of 3:43.41 broke the GLIAC meet record set by GVSU in 2016.
Ritter was voted Track Athlete of the Meet as well as High Point Athlete of the Meet by the GLIAC coaches for her multifaceted performance. Though the 4x400 relay was the toughest race of the meet, her late push to win the 100-meter dash was the most satisfying, she said.
“After the start I was behind after 50 meters,” Ritter said. “I thought I was going to lose it again like I did in the 60 indoors, where I had a really good prelim, and then I got to finals, and it wasn’t that I didn’t have a good race, but it wasn’t as good as I needed. I was trying not to let that happen again, and so I was really happy with how today ended up, being able to come back at the end of the race.”
One of Ritter’s teammates in the 4x400 relay also had an inspiring performance on the individual level.
Roberts ran a 55.50-second open 400 in the preliminary round. Then she shaved an entire second off that time in the final, finishing in 54.43 seconds. The time ties the seventh fastest mark in the event in Division II this season.
“I knew which parts of my race I needed to focus on to improve upon,” she said. “I was always going to go out there and try and run my best. So yes, I expected to win.”
Hearing she had moved well inside the top 10 in the country, Roberts’ grin was radiant.
“I have to tell my grandpa,” she said between shrieks of joy.
Dajsha Avery also had a big meet for the Laker women. The redshirt junior posted a lifetime best mark in the shot put. Her heave of 15.42 meters took the top spot.
The dominance of the ladies was summed up during the 5,000-meter run when Kendra Foley and Stacey Metzger led a slew of Lakers to score points. GVSU stole five of the top six spots in the event to take 30 points.
On the men’s side, Samora Nesbitt finished the last GLIAC meet of his career with a conference title in the triple jump. He was in first place from the beginning, reaching 15 meters on half of his jumps before ending with a meet-best mark of 15.04 meters.
“I wish the team could have ended with a first place too, but it feels good,” he said. “I hadn’t competed for a few weeks, so it was a good way to get back into it. I just want to do all that I can for the team, and leave them on a good note these last few weeks.”
Jaylin Golson also shone through for the Lakers. The redshirt freshman took second in the 400-meter dash, narrowly missing the GVSU record with a time of 47.59 seconds. His inspiring late kick in the 4x400 relay set up a photo-finish with Ashland and Tiffin to end the meet, as the three GLIAC track and field powers crossed the finishing line shoulder-to-shoulder.
“Jaylin Golson popped out of a shell,” Baltes said. “It was the second-fastest open 400 time in our history. And then he ran a great leg on the 4x4 and another leg on the 4x1.”
The Lakers will host the GVSU Last Chance Meet Friday, May 12, and Saturday, May 13, as some athletes will try to turn their performances into national championship qualifying marks, while others will try to further cement their place at the national meet. The season will culminate Thursday, May 25, through Saturday, May 27, in Bradenton, Florida, for the NCAA Division II National Championships.