Murphy sets Divison II record in women’s weight toss

Courtesy Photo / Liz Murphy
Liz Murphy throwing during a meet

Courtesy Photo / Liz Murphy Liz Murphy throwing during a meet

Kevin VanAntwerpen

Grand Valley State University thrower Liz Murphy set a new NCAA Division II record for the weight toss field event on Friday during the Lakers’ two-day trip to Bloomington, Ind.

“It just looked perfect from the start,” said runner Kayla Vallan, who witnessed the throw. “She let go and it just flew. It was crazy. Everyone was cheering her on, clapping and pumping her up.”

The sophomore’s throw reached a distance of 67-5, breaking her previous personal best of 62-11 1/2. It was not only the new Division II record, but also the fifth-best throw in NCAA history.

“I’ve been practicing a lot and I knew it was coming, but I never expected it to be that far,” Murphy said.

The trip also saw three runners qualify for the NCAA Indoor National conferences in the 800-meter run. Junior Monica Kinney and Senior Katherine McCarthy both hit NCAA provisional marks for the first time this season with times of 2 minutes, 12.49 seconds and 2:14.20, respectively. Junior Chanelle Caldwell topped her previous provisional marks with a time of 2:14.29

Despite setting records and hitting qualifying marks, not every story from the weekend was a success story – senior Kayla Vallar had originally set out to break the NCAA Division II record in the distance medley of 11:24 but fell short by a mere five seconds.

“It’s an eye opener when you go out there and perform to the best of your abilities and you know you have to perform better,” she said. “But you can’t let it discourage you. You have to go out and do it again.”

The meet was held at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and saw the approximately 55 members of the women’s track and field teams competing against the likes of both Division I and Division II teams, including Lincoln University, the University of Michigan and Notre Dame University.

Overall, the meet found the Lakers in good shape, said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. He said it’s simply one way to prepare the team for the ultimate goal – winning nationals.

“It’s the best competition we’ve faced so far,” he said. “That’s why we go to these meets – to get NCAA qualifiers, but also to get used to the pressure so that whether we’re at a conference or at nationals, we’re prepared. Some kids handled it really well, some melted under the pressure a little bit.”

As for nationals this year, the Lakers believe they have a clean shot. They’re currently ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II and have qualified players for nationals in almost every event.

“It’s to the point where we’re thinking, ‘We can really win this,’” Vallar said.

The next track and field meet will pit Grand Valley State University against Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw on Feb. 4.

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