GVSU track, field dominate outdoor opener

GVL / Robert Mathews

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews GVSU vs. SVSU

Pete Barrows

It was unknown in the day leading up if an outdoor meet would be possible as residual snow melt still coated Grand Valley State University’s outdoor facilities.

As a group of student-athletes competed in distant events hosted by N.C State in Raleigh, N.C., the temperatures back in state couldn’t be described as balmy, but the Lakers were able to successfully complete their first outdoor competition of the 2013 season, a dual meet against Saginaw Valley State. Thankfully for GVSU, who spent time earlier in the week shoveling the track, the icebreaking that took place Saturday afternoon was strictly metaphorical.

“It was decent day and I think it was a good icebreaker for the kids,” said GVSU track and field sprint, hurdle and relay coach Keith Roberts. “Coming out from indoor, we haven’t competed in a couple of weeks.”

The outdoor season is brief – the GLIAC conference meet, set to begin May 1, will be held in a month – and although it was only the first meet, GVSU took off out of the blocks without a stumble.

“All of our kids went out and competed really well, went after it and got some things done,” Roberts said. “We got to see some things, see what we can work on throughout the couple weeks of practice here, but we’ve improved in almost every area compared to this meet last year as far as performances go so we’re on track to do some big things.”

GVSU’s men’s team, ranked No. 11 in the U.S Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association poll, won their meet 118-41 while the lady Lakers, ranked No. 4 in the USTFCCCA computer rankings, defeated SVSU 107-47.

On the men’s side, GVSU won 15 of the 16 events that were contested and recorded five provisional marks along the way. Sophmore Bent VanEnk, who took the 100-meter dash in a time of 10.75 seconds, and junior Nathaniel Hammersmith, who won the 200-meter dash decidedly in a time of 21.55 seconds, were particularly impressive.

The GVSU women also checked in three provisional qualifying marks and won 13 of 16 events in the meet. Senior Kalena Franklin, who competed in three events including the women’s 4×400 relay, won both 200-meter dash (24.55 seconds) and 100-meter hurdles (14.24 seconds). Junior Andrea Kober won the 400-meter hurdles with a provisional qualifying time of 1 minute 2.22 seconds and like Franklin, showed off endurance and versatility.

The story of the meet however, as so often is the case, was senior thrower Sam Lockhart who once again decided to take a pen to GVSU’s record book, setting two, hitting one provisional mark and two automatic qualifiers.
Lockhart began by topping her own school mark of 54.62 meters by reaching 56.38 meters in discuss, the fifth best throw in NCAA Division II history, finished by topping her shot put record by .03 meters with a throw of 15.91 meters and then added a second place finish in the hammer throw for good measure.

“We expect good results,” said GVSU throwing coach Blaine Maag. “Our goals were a little under that so she (Sam Lockhart) kind of out performed her goals, but she’s capable of performing at that level all the time. I wouldn’t say that it’s surprising, but definitely pleased with it. We’re a little behind schedule, most of us are, because we didn’t get outside until this week. We’ve had very little outdoor training. Sam’s just a little bit above everybody, just her level of confidence and abilities.”

Back in action next week, the team, with the exception of the vaulters who will compete at Ferris State, will continue to cope with the elements as long as they have to as they prepare for the Spartan Invite hosted by Michigan Sate. There’s still plenty of work to be done and not much time left to do it.

“We had some good things that happened,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “It’s always good to get a W and we just have to keep building, keep working and come back stronger. Hopefully take another step forward next week and go from there.”
[email protected]