GVSU track and field continues to break records on their way to nationals

GVSU Track and Field take the GLIAC Championship title for both men’s and women’s on Sunday February 25, 2018. GVL / Archive

GVSU Track and Field take the GLIAC Championship title for both men’s and women’s on Sunday February 25, 2018. GVL / Archive

Jerod Fattal

The GVSU men’s and women’s track and field teams were on the road again, competing in the Hilltopper Relays and the Spartan Invite on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6. 

The Lakers started the weekend in Bowling Green, Ky., running in the Hilltopper Relays hosted at the Western Kentucky University campus. 

“We got our foot in the ground this weekend and it was the first meet in about five weeks for a lot of our kids,” said assistant coach Sean Denard. “We are definitely heading in the right direction in all of our groups and hopefully in May we will be ready to perform at our best.” 

GVSU started the meet strong, sweeping the men’s pole vault with Alex Peskin finishing first after a judge’s decision and a vault of 4.70m, which barely edged out teammate Andrew Koenigsknecht, who set a new personal record with a 4.70m vault as well. Michael Martin followed Peskin and Koenigsknecht, completing the sweep with a vault of 4.55m and a third place finish. 

“Our pole-vaulting group was the best group out there by far,” Denard said. “Coach Lou (Andreadis) has a great system and we have a lot of talented vaulters who work hard.” 

Brad Warman headlined the throwers, placing second in the shot put with a distance of 15.98m. 

“Brad is one of the better freshman in the entire country and we are just trying to get him some more experience,” Denard said. “We think he has a good shot at being one of the only throwers competing at nationals under the age of 20 later this year.” 

The women’s pole vaulters built off the men’s success with Elli Kimes, breaking her previous personal record of 4.07m with a first-place vault of 4.20m. 

Judith Essemiah and Dajsha Avery finished the Lakers’ day in the throwing events with Essemiah finishing second in the hammer throw with a mark of 49.54m and Avery finishing third in shot put with a toss of 13.84m. 

“Emma (Richards), Dajsha (Avery) and Erika Lechner are all pushing toward being All-Americans together this year,” Denard said. “They just need to become more consistent and continue to improve as a group.” 

Richards and Mary Hecksel continued the throwing momentum into Saturday, taking first and second in the discus with marks of 49.80m and 49.13m. 

Nicole Sreenan, Angelica Floyd, Sarah Beulla and Willow Stuedemann translated the team’s early success onto the track, winning the 4x100m relay with a time of 46.10 seconds. 

“They are not just a good team because they are really fast,” said assistant coach Reynaldo Radlin. “They put high expectations on each other and they know that in order for us to be successful at the national level, we have to have strong relays.” 

Jessica Eby rounded out the day on the women’s side, crossing the finish line of the 400m hurdles in 1:01.59 seconds and earning a gold medal. 

Thomas Capers, who is already the owner of two individual GVSU records in the 300m and indoor 400m dash, added to his trophy room Saturday with a new school record in the 400m dash. Finishing in 47.21 seconds, Capers broke the previous record set back in 2002 by .14 seconds.

“The first meeting we had together, he told me that he felt he was lacking in his race strategy,” Radlin said. “We have put a ton of focus on that this season and you could see the improvements. His first two hundred meters were really well run and that’s tough to do from lane eight.” 

Daniel Walker followed Capers lead in the next event, the 400m hurdles, finishing first place with a time of 51.86 seconds. 

Hunter Weeks and Ryan Mount led the way for the Lakers in the field events, taking first and second in the high jump with jumps of 2.13m and 2.10m. Justin Scavarda also had a strong showing, winning the discus with a toss of 50.69m. 

The Lakers may have improved off of last weekend’s performances, but if they want to reach their goals, they are going to have to continue to motivate themselves each day at practice. 

“We want to be team national champions,” Denard said. “We were so close this past year at indoors to winning it all, and only losing by four points is something that drives this team.” 

The men’s and women’s teams will both be back in action Saturday, April 13 in multiple meets, headlined by the Gorilla Classic in Pittsburg, Kan., hosted by Pittsburg State University.