Indoor track and field season off to the races

Zach Sepanik

The Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams opened their seasons on Friday, hosting the Laker Early Bird at the Kelly Family Sports Center.

The highlight of the meet came from junior sprinter Nathaniel Hammersmith, who set a new school record in the 300-meter dash of 34.62 seconds, breaking his own mark from last year. However, he finished second in the event behind Loyola University (Ill.) junior Mike Wetzel, who finished in a time of 34.35, a new Kelly Family Sports Center record.

Hammersmith was also a member of the 4×400-meter relay that hit a NCAA Division II provisional qualifying mark. Teaming with redshirt freshman Daniel Pung and juniors Mohamed Mohamed and Logan Hoffman, the group finished third in 3 minutes, 17.39 seconds.

Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Blake Donson earned a provisional mark with his first place effort of 18.00 meters in the weight throw. He also finished second in the shot put with a mark of 15.20 meters.
“First meet of the year, you just don’t know what you are going to get,” said GVSU men’s and women’s head coach Jerry Baltes. “Our coaching staff does a pretty good job of keeping the big picture in mind. My guess is some of the teams are a little ahead of us in training, where we are still in a base-building phase.”

On the women’s side, the defending NCAA champions hit 11 provisional marks, thanks in large part to the distance crew. Sophomore Allyson Winchester finished second in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:49.96. Close behind were redshirt freshman Jessica Janecke and juniors Molly Slavens, Kelcie Severson and Courtney Brewis.

Sophomores Madie Rodts and Hannah Osborn each picked up provisional times in the 3,000-meter run, while junior Kalena Franklin did as well with a winning time of 8.64 in the 60-meter hurdles. Senior Jamie Smith and junior Alyssa Zokoe finished first and second, respectively, in the weight throw, while the 4×400-meter relay team finished third in 3:54.65.

“I told my coaches I really wasn’t focused on times or anything,” said junior Brittney Jackson, who hit a provisional mark in the 60-meter dash at 7.66 seconds. “I just wanted to have a good, solid race. The 60 is so short, if you mess up your start it’s pretty hard to make up for it.”

The Lakers next meet comes on Dec. 14 when they host the GVSU Holiday Open.

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