Women set to defend title, men will send eight to Track & Field National Championships

GVL Archive
Senior Daniel MacDonell

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Senior Daniel MacDonell

Zach Sepanik

Even with a strong familiarity to the national spotlight, the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track and field teams will be competing from Thursday to Saturday at the 2012 Division II Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in an unfamiliar setting.

The Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl on the campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo in Pueblo, Colo., will serve as the venue for competition. It will be the first trip to the facility for the 25 Laker athletes making the trip.

“We have a lot of quality kids who have been on this stage before,” said GVSU men’s and women’s head coach Jerry Baltes. “We know very little about the facility. It is sort of like the movie Hoosiers where it is a 10-foot basket and everyone has to play on that hoop. Same thing, except it is a 400-meter track with runways and we will be ready to compete in whatever the surface and elements present.”

Looking to defend their 2011 outdoor national championship, 17 Laker women qualified for this season’s final race. They are led by GLIAC Freshman of the Year Brittney Banister, who made the cut in the 100-meter dash and also the 200-meter dash with the 12th-fastest time.

Another sprinter, sophomore Kalena Franklin, qualified in the 100-meter hurdles.

To add to the team’s representation, three women hold the top-seed in each of their respective running events. Senior Chanelle Caldwell stands atop the 800-meter run, while graduate student Rachel Patterson owns the top time in the 5,000-meter run.

Finally, fellow graduate student Betsy Graney, who is the second seed in the 5,000-meter run behind Patterson, holds the top mark in the steeplechase.

“Jerry tells us all the time that we just need to do what we did to get here to succeed,” said junior Sam Lockhart. “Enjoy the moment, stay focused and build off of the season we have had.”

The depth continues for GVSU as senior Karie McDonald and redshirt freshman Hannah Osborn will join Graney in the steeplechase. Caldwell will also be a part of the 4×400-meter relay team, which further consists of Franklin, junior Leiah Hess and senior Adrienne Chandler. Patterson also earned the second seed in the 10,000-meter run and will be joined by freshman Ann Marie Arseneau.

With the track side having such a strong showing, the field spectrum also boasts three top seeds of its own. Sophomore Kristen Hixson tops the pole vault list and will be joined by senior Jocelyn Kuksa. Meanwhile, senior Lauren Buresh has the top seed in the shot put. She will be joined by Lockhart, who also earned the second seed in the discus throw, an event in which junior Jamie Smith also made the cut. Finally, junior Liz Murphy sits atop the field for the hammer throw with sophomore Alyssa Zokoe also getting a spot.

As for the men, eight athletes qualified for the three-day event, building on their 2012 indoor campaign.

“It is more than indoor and that is definitely what we want,” said sophomore Logan Hoffman, who qualified in the 400-meter hurdles. “A lot of our guys are seeded pretty well, but we still have to go there and show up. Just because we are seeded high doesn’t mean much when you go to the National Championships. Everybody is good.”

Seniors Anthony Witt and Jeff Nordquist will look to cap off their illustrious GVSU careers at the highest level. Witt qualified for the 5,000 and 10,000-meter runs, while Nordquist will compete in the steeplechase.

On the field, redshirt freshmen Trent Chappell and Bret Myers are in the field for the high jump and pole vault, respectively. Myers will be joined by junior Raphael Gelo, while sophomore Donny Stiffler qualified in the shot put and junior Andrew Gorley made the cut in the hammer throw.

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