California Dreaming

GVL Archive / Andrew Mills
Sophomore Ashley Botham participates in the one mile run during the Bob Eubanks Open held in the Laker Turf Building.

GVL Archive / Andrew Mills Sophomore Ashley Botham participates in the one mile run during the Bob Eubanks Open held in the Laker Turf Building.

Zach Sepanik

It was only 12 days ago that the Grand Valley State University women’s track and field team won the NCAA Division II indoor track and field National Championship. On Friday, however, the Lakers begin their outdoor season in Palo Alto, Calif., at the Stanford Invitational, one of four separate times this spring GVSU will be sending a part of its team to the Golden State.

“We did just what we wanted to do in our indoor season,” said junior Karie McDonald, who will run the steeplechase for the women this outdoor season. “We went in with a goal to win a national championship, and we did. It should help us in the outdoor season because we are going into it with momentum, and a lot of people are performing at a high point.”

Both the men’s and the women’s teams face the same schedule during the outdoor season. Besides the Stanford Invitational, other big meets include the Spartan Invite, the Mt. SAC Relays and the Long Beach Invitational.

However, the whole team does not travel to every meet. Each meet is specifically picked out for a particular event group from the track and field team that will provide the best competition against the rest of the field.

“With races in outdoor season, it gives every event group a big meet to go to,” said sophomore Ashley Botham, who will compete in the 1,500 meter run for the women. “For example, the throwers will go to a big meet in terms of the best competition for them. And then the mid-distance and distance competitors will go to the Mt. SAC Relays. For indoor track, the team stays together, and for outdoor track each event group is more on their own.”

The Stanford Invitational this week will be a huge test for four of the 10,000-meter runners. On the men’s squad, juniors Anthony Witt and Paul Zielinski will make the trip, and on the women’s side seniors Kylen Cieslak and Eileen Creutz will compete. Junior Tyler Emmorey will also compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase as well.

The meet will feature steep Division I competition from the University of Michigan to the likes of the University of Oregon, the University of Washington, Air Force Academy and the University of Alaska—Anchorage. Competitors from the Nike, Adidas and New Balance teams will also be there.

Although the competition will certainly be steep, for GVSU it is all to gain experience and run the best by the Division II outdoor national championships.

“We all like to travel, and it gives us better competition,” said junior Rebecca Winchester, who runs the steeplechase for the women during the outdoor season. “I think it benefits us a lot, and we get to face a lot of teams that we will see at the national meet. It also allows everyone to focus completely on their event. I think if we can have the same focus and intensity as indoor, I think we can win outdoor nationals.”

With no home meets on the schedule, the travel will play an important role for the teams throughout the season. The women’s goal of winning another national title remains the same, though.

“We don’t host any meets because our track is not in the best shape,” Botham said. “Next year, when our new track is built, we will host some meets.”

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