Women's track and field collects top individual awards
After winning their fourth-straight track and field national championship in the outdoor season, the Grand Valley State University women’s track and field team has laid claim as the best in Division II and added three prestigious postseason awards to the trophy case.
GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes was named by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association as the National Women’s Coach of the Year.
“My name might be on it, but it’s really a representation of all of our student-athletes, the rest of our coaching staff, our support staff, administration, athletic trainers, sports information and games and event operations,” Baltes said. “Everyone contributed to our overall success.”
This year alone, Baltes coached four individual national champions and led the Lakers to their second outdoor national championship.
It is the second-consecutive year Baltes captured the honor, and his third award since 2007.
Meanwhile, assistant coach Lou Andreadis was named the National Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year for the first time in his career.
“He is deserving of it, definitely” said sophomore Kristen Hixson, who hit the second-best vault in Division II history in the outdoor season. “He is one of the reasons why I chose Grand Valley because I wanted a coach that was going to be there and would support me throughout my whole college career.”
Andreadis not only led the entire pole vault crew, but coached Hixson and senior Jocelyn Kuksa to new heights this season. It was their performance at the outdoor national championships that sparked high recognition. The pair finished first and second with Hixson clearing 4.15 meters, a Division II outdoor meet record.
It is the second straight year that a Laker assistant has been named women’s assistant coach of the year.
To cap off the awards, graduate student Betsy Graney was named the National Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, the first Laker to win the award since 2007.
Graney rewrote the Division II record book this season with the fastest time ever in the steeplechase, leading to her individual outdoor national title in the event. She also had the second-best time of the season in the 5,000-meter run, earning All-America honors in the process.
“I am really thankful for all the people who have helped me train and been so supportive through the whole process,” Graney said. “It blows my mind just thinking about it.”