GVSU women’s track and field captures second in national championship

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Kendra Foley

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Kendra Foley

Brady McAtamney

The Grand Valley State Lakers women’s track and field team rolled into Bradenton, Florida, and captured a second place overall finish in the 2017 NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships.

With 44 total points, the Lakers finished one point ahead of Adam’s State for the runner-up spot. West Texas A&M claimed the first-place finish with 64 points.

The lady Lakers finished in the top four for the eighth consecutive season, a span that has now seen six top-three finishes and two National Championships.

Senior Kendra Foley won her first career individual track and field title, taking home gold in the 10,000-meter run with a time of 34:36.21. Foley also finished second in the 5,000-meter run, clocking in at a time of 16:26.52. Her pair of top-two finishes tallied 18 total points for the Lakers.

“It was really exciting,” Foley said. “Ever since I was a freshman, I wanted to win the 5K, and this was my first year running the 10k. I’m really excited I got to win a track race in my last meet ever. It means a lot to me.”

However, the most exhilarating part of the meet for Foley was knowing that her contributions propelled the Lakers to their lofty finish in the top two.

“(Scoring 18 points for GVSU) was the most exciting part for me I think,” she said. “I get a lot of confidence and purpose from doing it for my team and going out and leaving a legacy behind. I’ll hopefully be remembered for that. 

“That’s what’s most important for me. The team accomplishment means more.”

Sophomore Rachel Walters finished second in the 800-meter run, timing out at 2:06.72. Other Lakers who tallied points to the overall score were freshman Stacey Metzger (fourth in 5,000 meter, 16:28.71), junior Tiara Wiggins (seventh in 100 hurdles, 14.01), sophomore Chant’e Roberts (eighth in 400 meter, 57.50), junior Angela Ritter (eighth in 100 meter, 11.93) and junior Dajsha Avery (sixth in shot put).

“A lot of our kids came in ranked 10-20 and performed at a high level and competed very well to earn the top ten,” said head coach Jerry Baltes. “Individuals usually want top eight because they get on the trophy stand. A couple other athletes had amazing performances too.”

Additionally, freshman Allie Ludge finished 11th in the 1,500 meter while sophomore Lucy Buckholz came in 16th in pole vault.

The Lakers were ranked seventh in the nation headed into the weekend, yet made it their goal to place in the top four in order to earn themselves a spot on the championship podium.

“I’m proud of how the ladies competed,” Baltes said. “It’s great to see our kids continue to compete and stay focused and be tough over a three-day championship and see them compete for each other.”

Though Foley and other key seniors have seen their collegiate careers come to a climactic close, the Lakers expect to return 59 percent of their NCAA Championship scoring to the future 2017-18 group.

Baltes was proud of his star runner for being able to earn such an accomplishment in Bradenton, and Foley herself is satisfied with the way her time as a Laker ended on the track.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” she said. “I’m glad I ended on such a high note, but it’s hard to leave. It was a bittersweet moment crossing the finish line of the 5K because that just meant that it was finally over. It was emotional and sad, but I’m glad I finished on a high note rather than regretting it.”