GVSU track and field women win 2017 GLIAC Indoor Championship

GVL / Courtesy - GLIAC


GVL / Courtesy – GLIAC

Jacob Arvidson

Grand Valley State continued its dominance of the GLIAC this weekend, Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, Feb. 26, taking home the women’s indoor track and field title and taking runner-up on the men’s side.

The women, ranked No. 1 in Division II, scored 160.5 points to edge out second place Hillsdale (96.5 points).

“We had a lot of highlights on the ladies’ side,” said GVSU coach Jerry Baltes.

The Laker men, ranked No. 4 in the country, scored 131.5 points to finish behind Tiffin (167.5 points).

“We knew it was going to be close,” Baltes said. “(Tiffin) really went after it. Their kids competed well and performed well. We definitely had some things that didn’t go our way in some spots that we needed them too, but had we had a perfect meet, I don’t know if we would have been able to overcome the meet that they had.”

The women have won every GLIAC meet since 2000. Their excellence was again on display at the 2017 rendition of the meet in Findlay, Ohio.

Leading the charge for the women was Angie Ritter. The junior coasted to victory in the 200-meter with a time of 24.77 seconds. She also added a second-place finish in the 60, crossing the line in 7.58 seconds. Ritter returned again in the 4×400 relay to lead the Lakers to first place with a time of 3:46.41.

“Coming off the 60, taking second after winning the prelims by such a huge margin, I was definitely bummed,” she said. “So winning the 200 was such a redeeming feeling. It was a season best, so it made that feeling so much sweeter. It just felt great to know that I accomplished what I wanted and came to do.”

Kathryn Mills, Dajsha Avery, Chant’e Roberts and Rachael Walters all joined Ritter as event winners.

Mills cleared the bar at 1.69 meters in the high jump, winning on a tiebreaker. Avery’s 15.18-meter toss in the shot put was good for first place. The throw was a lifetime best for Avery. Walters was dominant in the 800, winning by over three seconds with a time of 2:09.11. Roberts rounded out the first-place finishers with a dramatic win in the 400 dash, beating out Tiffin’s runner with a lean to finish in 56.42 seconds.

Helping bring the men to their runner up finish was the joint performance in the 5,000.

“Our 5Kers did an incredible job,” Baltes said. “That was the only event we scored four people in.”

The Lakers left with a lump sum of 22 points in the event. Chris May (14:36.05) took first place, Nate Orndorf (14:42.37) took third, Josh Steible (14:52.42) took fifth and Alberto Gomez (14:55.91) rounded out the scoring in the event, finishing seventh.

Samora Nesbitt did all he could to support GVSU in the triple jump, completing the second-farthest jump of his career, as the current Laker indoor record holder leapt 15.23 meters.

Hunter Weeks also had a big meet, taking first in the high jump. He cleared the bar at 2.15 meters, tying Jeremy Pearson’s 17-year-old GVSU record. Brandon Bean also added points in the event, jumping 2.03 meters to finish in sixth place.

Zach Panning and Kevin Black contributed more strong performances for the men, finishing third and fourth in the mile. Panning crossed the line in 4:15.80 and Black finished in 4:16.94.

The women had several second place finishes, earning big points for the team. Kyra Hull put on a show in the weight throw with a heave of 19.79 meters. Alexis Duncan continued her strong indoor season in the long jump, leaping as far as 5.80 meters. Kelly Haubert posted the No. 13 time in Division II in the 5,000, crossing the finish line in 17:06.07, which, when adjusted for track size, equals 16:58.28. The distance medley relay of Gina Patterson, Jessica O’Connell, Walters and Kendra Foley also shined, finishing less than half a second out of first with a time of 11:38.51.

Up next is the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championship meet, a two day competition beginning Friday, March 10. The top-ranked Laker women will be eyeing the third national title in school history, while the men will look to win their first ever.

“We’ll take the next couple days to take a big, deep breath and try and get energy back into us,” Baltes said. “Hopefully we’ll recover quickly, get a session or two in this week, and then be ready to go next week. I think we’re in a good position. We should have good numbers qualified on both sides.”