Lakers tune up for GLIAC meet in home finale

Courtesy / Doug Witte
Sophomore Darien Thornton has broken Grand Valleys record in weight throw twice and is qualified for nationals.

Courtesy / Doug Witte

Courtesy / Doug Witte Sophomore Darien Thornton has broken Grand Valley’s record in weight throw twice and is qualified for nationals.

Andy Smith


Another meet led to yet another impressive showing from the Grand Valley State track and field teams at the Kelly Family Sports Center on Friday, as the well-oiled machine that is the GVSU T&F program geared up for the GLIAC Championships in its last indoor meet of the season.

The teams came away with eight individual and team wins, notched 16 provisional marks, earned two automatic qualifying marks and set a school and building record on Friday in the GVSU Tune-Up.

“Even though we sat a lot of runners out and got them the rest that they needed, we had a lot of good things that happened in this meet,” said GVSU coach Jerry Baltes. “A lot of runners were able to focus on the little things that will help them be successful next weekend.”

The GVSU men were led by two standout performers on the day – the first being sophomore thrower Darien Thornton. Thornton set a school record in the weight throw with a toss of 21.91 meters, which automatically qualifies him for the national championships and shatters his previous mark by almost a meter.

With the record-breaking throw, Thornton’s mark is now second in the NCAA, only .24 meters out of the top spot. He also received a provisional mark in the shot put with his throw of 15.87 meters, which earned him a third-place finish.

“Breaking the record gives me great confidence heading into the GLIAC Championships,” Thornton said. “It also gives the rest of the throwers on the team a great boost of confidence and gets them going by creating hype.”

Junior Sean Wells also showed that he is ready to go for next weekend’s big meet by tying his own school record in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 7.83, which automatically qualified him for the NCAA championships.

Patrick Fisch (mixed pole vault) also came away with a victory on the day, clearing a height of 4.81 meters.

The Laker women had a very successful meet and were once again led by the pole vault crew, which placed four athletes in the top five. Led by junior Alex Kitz, who cleared 3.96 meters, seven different Lakers notched provisional marks.

Jamie Roberts finished in second with her vault of 3.86 meters, Jennifer Schornak came in fourth at 3.76 meters and Whitney Bice landed in a tie for fifth with her vault of 3.61 meters.

Also coming away with victories on the day were Angela Ritter (200 meter dash), Laura Schroeder (weight throw), and the women’s 4×400 meter relay team of Jessica O’Connell, Katie Shaheen, Brittany Terry and Kylie Hicks.

“A meet like this builds fast times for everyone and it is trying to get everyone in the right mindset for the GLIAC Championships next weekend,” Ritter said.

The Tune-Up was the final indoor home meet for one of the most decorated GVSU track and field teams in school history. The senior class has 21 student athletes that have put together a number of quality accomplishments over the years, including seven cross country All-American honors, 12 indoor All-American and 18 combined outdoor All-American honors.

Out of a possible 20 GLIAC championships between the cross country and the track and field seasons, this year’s senior class has won 19, and has never lost a cross country GLIAC or regional championship.

The teams will try to add to their list of accolades and defend their indoor conference titles next weekend in the GLIAC Championships hosted by Saginaw Valley State on Saturday and Sunday.