Honoring Al

GVL Archive
Grand Valley Sophomore Kalena Franklin

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Grand Valley Sophomore Kalena Franklin

Zach Sepanik

More than 30 years of dedication to Grand Valley State University athletics has earned Al Owens historic recognition, as Friday and Saturday will mark the first annual Al Owens Classic for the men’s and women’s track and field teams at the new Laker Track and Field Stadium.

“I consider it a big honor,” Owens said. “Usually it is a memorial instead of a classic, so I’m glad it’s not that. It is a great honor to be recognized and I am humbled. It is just great to be involved with all the great kids that go through the program.”

Owens, currently the game operations assistant for the Lakers, has been an official at GV track meets since the Fieldhouse Arena was opened in 1982 and has helped run the scoreboard for football and basketball games. Upon deciding to retire in 1999, GVSU athletic director Tim Selgo offered him a part-time position, a spot Owens has occupied for 13 years now.

“Al has been around GV athletics for quite some time now and is someone that is always willing, and able, to give a helpful hand,” said GVSU men’s and women’s head coach Jerry Baltes. “He has always been great to our track and field program especially, whether as an official or someone just pitching in and helping out, and we wanted to honor him in return.”

The Lakers will look to continue their strong performance in the outdoor season, hoping to hit more provisional and automatic qualifying marks in their last home meet before hosting the GLIAC Championships in early May.

Following a victory at the four-team Hillsdale Invitational last Saturday, in which the No. 1 GVSU women’s team won 11 events, the squad will use the home atmosphere to push themselves.

“We are more familiar with the track so things will go more smoothly,” said sophomore sprinter Kalena Franklin, who ran a personal-record 14.05 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles last weekend. “We have a better chance to hit those faster times since we are at home. It is one of our last home meets before conference and we are excited, but it is getting down to crunch time.”

The No. 10 men also took first-place at the Hillsdale Invitational, winning 10 events to edge out Hillsdale University by three points. The team hopes to continue its progression toward its goal of placing at the 2012 NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships.

“We just have to keep making that progress as we move closer to the GLIAC Championships, and on to the NCAA Championships,” Baltes said. “I think we are in a positive spot and just have to keep working hard. Even though it hasn’t been beautiful to start the season, it has been a little bit better than last year. Really we just have to be ready for anything.”

GVSU will also be sending 17 student-athletes, primarily the distance crew, to Walnut, Calif., for their annual trip to the Mt. SAC Relays. The meet, which will take place from Friday through Sunday, will provide favorable weather and a deep field for the athletes to compete in and hopefully hit their fastest marks of the season.

“It is a great opportunity for our student-athletes to get out in great conditions and great competition, and hopefully race fast and earn trips to the NCAA Championships,” Baltes said.

As for Owens, he will be the starter for this weekend in Allendale, continuing his run as a Laker for life.

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