Thornton’s heave highlights Hillsdale Classic

GVL / Robert Mathews  
Kayla Addison

GVL / Robert Mathews Kayla Addison

Tate Baker

The Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track and field teams strive for consistency — and often thrive as a result.

The Hillsdale Classic offered plenty examples of this over the weekend, as fans were fortunate enough to see a record-shattering performance in the men’s weight throw and the triumphant return of an All-American hurdler.

“We saw quite a display of performances put on by our athletes this weekend,” GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes said. “We treat every meet with the same approach; eventually break out performances are a result, which we saw today.”

The men’s weight throw competition offered what may have been the most eye-popping display of athleticism of the weekend as sophomore Darien Thornton broke his school record with a toss of 21.18 meters.

The throw eclipsed his previous mark by more than 22.74 inches.

“I can’t say I saw that type of performance coming, but I was definitely on the verge of something like that with the way I’ve been throwing lately,” Thornton said. “It was a great feeling to set a new personal record. I just have to keep training, keep progressing, and more performances like this will come.”

The No. 5 Laker men also got provisional marks from senior Logan Hoffman in the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.50 seconds and junior Alan Peterson in the 3000-meter championship run with a time of 8:33.58.

“The results across the board were very satisfying for us as a whole,” Baltes said. “We need to eventually see some more kids step up for us down the road, but we’re content with where we are right now.”

The No. 2 Laker women returned to form as senior leader Kalena Franklin competed in her first meet since suffering an injury two weeks prior in a meet at Saginaw Valley State University.

Franklin didn’t miss a beat in her return and dominated the field with a trio of first-place finishes in the 60-meter hurdles with rounds of 8.55, 8.51 and 8.53 seconds. She then finished her day in the 4×400 meter relay with teammates Andrea Kober, Brittany Banister and Brittany Terry for a second-place time of 3:52.86.

“It definitely was a bitter feeling not being able to compete with my team in the past couple of weeks, but it feels great to be back,” Franklin said. “I really do have the best teammates. I could feel the support from all of them which really carried me this weekend.”

Kristen Hixson continued her impressive senior campaign in the pole vault by taking home first-place honors with a vault of 4.20 meters — the best NCAA Division II mark this year by four inches — for the lone automatic qualifying mark of the day for GVSU.

Sophomore Alexandra Kitz finished second with a provisional mark of 3.65 meters.

“She just continues to step up for us,” Baltes said of Hixson. “At this point in the year, as she is hitting the marks that she is, it’s exciting to see where she might be once the GLIAC and Division II championships come around.”

Both GVSU squads are back in action at the Kelly Family Sports Center for the GVSU Big Meet on Friday and Saturday.