Lakers double up SVSU in spring opener

GV / Emily Frye
Senior Kayla Addison

GV / Emily Frye Senior Kayla Addison

Adam Knorr

After months of indoor competition, the Grand Valley State University track and field teams were more than ready for a chance to compete outdoors and showcase their talents under blue skies and sunlight.

Only a few were able to enjoy the weather, however, as the teams split up over the weekend. Ten distance runners headed south to North Carolina for the Raleigh Relays, while the rest of the squad stayed home to host conference rival Saginaw Valley State University on Saturday.

As is often the case in Michigan, the weather didn’t cooperate, and the majority of the meet was forced to move inside. But, as is often the case for GVSU, the majority of events were Laker victories.

The women left the Kelly Family Sports Center with a 110-49 victory after taking all but four events, while the men prevailed in all 16 of their events for a 112-47 win.

“Everything is a progression for us leading up to the GLIAC and NCAA championships,” head coach Jerry Baltes said. “We’re focused more on taking care of ourselves and making sure we can keep improving from within.”

Sophomore Darien Thornton picked up where he left off in the spring and took first place in both the hammer throw and shot put.

Thornton’s hammer throw of 64.97 meters was not only good enough to earn him an automatic qualification to the 2014 NCAA Division II Outdoor Championship, but also good enough for the top Division II toss this year.

“It was great to get these marks,” he said. “Now I don’t have to worry about hammer marks the rest of the season. I can just go out there and have fun.

“Today was pay day for all the work we did this winter.”

He and freshman Chris Saikalis also earned provisional qualifying marks for nationals in the shot put with throws of 17.70 and 17.03 meters, respectively.

Meanwhile, the women’s throwers took care of business in a similar fashion, as senior Alyssa Zokoe and sophomore Laura Schroeder also earned provisional marks while finishing first and second in the hammer throw.

While the majority of the team was working hard in Allendale, a select few runners were competing in far friendlier conditions in Raleigh. When all was said and done, the Lakers came home with six provisional qualifying marks courtesy of their long-distance pieces.

Junior Jessica Janecke placed fourth in the women’s 10,000-meter run with a time of 35:04.23, while seniors Molly Slavens and Alycia Thurston finished in eighth and 17th place to round out the trio of top-20 Laker finishes.

“With such a big race, it’s more important for us to finish with the provisional marks than it is to just win,” Slavens said. “We plan on getting more people to hit those marks and break some school records this year.”

Sophomores Kyle Flores and Chad Cini placed 27th and 36th in the men’s 10k for the Lakers in the “A” race, while classmate Joe Duff took home the only race victory for GVSU (30:39.96) in the “B” race for the 10k.

GVSU will attempt to follow up the strong, two-state outing with a three-day trip to the Eastern Illinois Invitational, which starts on Thursday in Charleston, Ill.