GVSU competes at EIU Big Blue Classic

GVL / Sara Carte
Grand Valley Track and Field thrower, Mike Prestigiacomo, throws shot put during the GVSU Mike Lints Alumni Open Meet in the Kelly Family Sports Center on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016.

Sara Carte

GVL / Sara Carte Grand Valley Track and Field thrower, Mike Prestigiacomo, throws shot put during the GVSU Mike Lints Alumni Open Meet in the Kelly Family Sports Center on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016.

Jacob Arvidson

Grand Valley State track and field took a road trip to Charleston, Illinois from April 1-2 to take part in the Big Blue Classic hosted by Eastern Illinois.

Once again, the Lakers proved they aren’t fazed by Division I competition. The high-caliber opponents didn’t slow GVSU down, but the conditions did. Heavy winds took their toll on the athletes and affected performances in all events.

“I can tell you it was really, really windy out there,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “So, there was nothing good from a time perspective.

“Going through the two-day meet, conditions weren’t very favorable for producing lifetime bests or personal records in most events. We just focused on competing and being tough and I thought our athletes did a great job of that across the board, just handling the situation to the best of their ability and competing hard.”

Despite the wind, the Lakers were still able to achieve one automatic qualifying mark and 15 provisional qualifying marks between the men’s and women’s teams.

Denzel Graham and Mike Prestigiacomo emerged with breakout performances in the men’s discus, taking third and fourth place, respectively. Graham’s automatic qualifying mark was the highlight of the meet for the Lakers. His throw soared 56.03 meters (183 feet, 10 inches). Prestigiacomo fell just short of an automatic mark with a heave of 55.12 meters (180 feet, 10 inches).

“In the discus we had two guys hit huge marks,” Baltes said. “They both had big throws in the windy conditions. That will probably get them into the national meet.”

With a strong wind at his back, Lawson Bright-Mitchell posted a time of 10.48 seconds in the men’s 100-meter dash, beating the GVSU record of 10.50 seconds set in 1972 by Robert Eubanks.

“Lawson Bright-Mitchell ran a great time,” Baltes said. “Wind-aided, but got under our school record, so that was really good.”

On the women’s side of the 100-meter dash, Angie Ritter earned a fourth-place finish and a provisional mark, clocking in at 11.89 seconds.

“The wind definitely wasn’t ideal, but you just have to keep a positive attitude and run what you can anyway,” she said. “Thankfully, it’s early enough in the season that we have many more opportunities. Outdoor season brings all kinds of obstacles and you just have to try to persevere.”

Jaime Roberts continued her strong run of form in the women’s pole vault. Even with the wind swirling around her, the senior cleared the bar at 3.94 meters (12 feet, 11 inches) to earn a provisional mark.

“Not a super high mark (for Roberts), but again, it was windy and cross winds made for very tough conditions,” Baltes said.

Another bright spot for the Lakers was represented by Dajsha Avery. The sophomore earned provisional marks in both the women’s shot put and the discus. Her throw of 14.22 meters (46 feet, 8 inches) in the shot put was good for second place and her final distance of 45.87 meters (150 feet, 6 inches) in the discus was good for fourth.

The women’s 100-meter hurdles also gave GVSU something to cheer about. Tiara Wiggins and Beatriz Indurain took fourth and fifth, respectively. Wiggins finished in 14.22 seconds and Indurain finished in 14.27.

The men’s 4×400-meter relay team of Kenny Jones, Bright-Mitchell, Sean Wells and Luke Vasilion didn’t earn a provisional mark, but Baltes was pleased with their 42.56-second performance.

“The time wasn’t super fast, but I thought our men’s 4×400 did a great job of getting the stick around the track,” Baltes said.

Next up for the Lakers is another trip down south. On April 8, most of the team will travel to Western Kentucky for the Hilltopper Relays, while a few others may head to Michigan State.

“The sprinters, jumpers and throwers will go down to Western Kentucky,” Baltes said. “Distance-wise, we may run a few kids over at Michigan State, depending on how training goes and how the weather looks.”