Track and field teams leave Indiana relays with ‘sense of urgency’ for season

GVL Archive
RS Freshamn Hannah Osborn pulls away from the pack during the 1 Mile run during the Bob Eubanks Open held in Allendale.

GVL Archives

GVL Archive RS Freshamn Hannah Osborn pulls away from the pack during the 1 Mile run during the Bob Eubanks Open held in Allendale.

Zach Sepanik

Leaving the confines of the Kelly Family Sports Center for the first time this season, the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track and field teams went up against a heavy Division I field at the Indiana University Relays on Friday and Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.

The meet, which pitted the Lakers against Division I teams like the University of Louisville and Indiana University, gave GVSU a slight mid-season realization that there is still work to be done.

“I think we all came in thinking we would compete a little better than we did,” said GVSU assistant coach Nick Polk, also the assistant distance coach. “We just need to have more of a sense of urgency, a sense of getting after it and trying to compete at a really high level. We are not quite there at this point in the season.”

On day one, the Laker women cleaned up in the one-mile run, finishing as the only school with more than two runners in the top 10 of the final results, leading the way with four runners.

Senior Karie McDonald finished third with a time of 5 minutes, 1.50 seconds. Junior Ashley Botham was close behind with a time of 5:03.27, good enough for fifth place. Redshirt freshman Hannah Osborn finished seventh in 5:06.13, while sophomore Madie Rodts rounded out the top 10 with a time of 5:07.18.

“It is always nice to have strong people on your team to run with,” McDonald said. “It helps us to push each other, especially like at nationals last year. It brings a lot pride when you can show other schools how much depth you have and how we all work together to achieve the same goals.”

As a team, three GVSU women hit NCAA Division II provisional qualifying marks on day one, while day two saw 10 women finish in the top 10 of their event.

On the men’s side, three athletes hit qualifying marks on day two.

“It was pretty much just not backing down from the challenge,” said senior sprinter Xavier Parnell, who finished 13th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.38 seconds. “It was great for us because at conference and nationals, we run on a 200-meter track. To get the quickest times we just need to get on the track, see how it feels and get used to it.”

Meanwhile, sophomore Bret Myers cleared 4.75 meters in the pole vault to finish in seventh place and get the lone qualifying mark for the men’s team on day one.

On day two, senior thrower Daniel Vanek hit the only automatic qualifying mark for the men, finishing third in the shot put with a toss of 18.47 meters. Vanek finished the event as the highest-ranked Division II competitor.

While it was not an ideal weekend for the Lakers, the focus now shifts to Saginaw Valley State University this week, the first meet where the team will have an opportunity to score. Still, the Indiana University Relays will provide a solid gauge for all the athletes going forward, especially against the competition they faced.

“It was the first time we traveled this season. It’s always that first experience, getting out of a van after driving for five hours. It’s a shock to your body,” Polk said. “I think we got there and realized how much more work we still have to do. We have a good base, but there is still a lot ahead of us.”

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