GVSU pole vaulters shine at Tune-Up Meet

GVL / Emily Frye
Junior Skylar Schoen takes on the pole vault on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Junior Skylar Schoen takes on the pole vault on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.

Jacob Arvidson

The Grand Valley State women’s pole vaulters stole the show at the GVSU Tune-Up Meet on Feb. 19.

Jaime Roberts recorded her second automatic qualifying mark of the season, while Skylar Schoen and Krista Nauseda each registered provisional marks. In addition, GVSU alumna Kristen Hixson recorded an Olympic trials qualifying mark.

Hixson was proud of each of her former teammates for their increasingly strong performances.

“I love it,” she said. “I’m excited for all the girls. They’re doing super well and I hope they can bring back a couple places from nationals. I know that they can all jump higher, but it’s exciting to see. I’m really proud.”

Hixson’s fellow Lakers were as excited for her as she was for them.

“She’s at practice with us working hard,” Roberts said. “She deserves it. She’s putting in the time and getting on big poles, so to watch her succeed is awesome.”

For Hixson, it helps being able to compete in a familiar environment like the Kelly Family Sports Center.

“I feel at home here,” she said. “I feel comfortable here. There are a lot of familiar faces and fans. Jumping in a comfortable environment helped a lot today. I got to jump high and get on some bigger poles.”

Hixson’s jump of 4.62 meters was a new personal record. With a few months still left before the Olympic trials in July, she hopes she can clear even taller heights.

“It feels really good,” she said. “I feel like it has been a long time coming. Fifteen feet was kind of just a barrier. Now that I’m over it, it’s just the beginning. I never like to put a number on it because once I make that it goes up again. If it’s 10 centimeters at a time, or it’s five centimeters at a time, as long as the height’s going up I’m okay with it.”

GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes had high praise for his former star.

“Hixson keeps doing great,” he said. “Hopefully there’s more in the tank and hopefully she can put it together in July out in Eugene, Oregon at the Olympic trials and have a shot to make the U.S. team.”

Roberts cleared the bar at 4.08 meters for just the second time this season. She was happy with the results one week before the GLIAC Championships.

“I felt pretty confident with my jumps,” she said. “I’m excited. Hopefully this week in practice we’ll get any more kinks out before next weekend.”

Roberts led the way for GVSU, but Schoen and Nauseda’s provisional marks were still worth noting. Shoen cleared the bar at 3.78 meters and Nauseda cleared at 3.68 meters.

In addition to the women pole vaulters, the GVSU throwers had another big day. The men and women combined for seven total provisional marks in the weight throw. Kyra Hull led the way for the women with her first-place throw of 18.50 meters. Darien Thornton led the way for the men with his second-place throw of 20.29 meters.

The GVSU Tune-Up also was used to recognize the Laker seniors. Just before the final event of the evening, each senior was given a personalized baton from Baltes.

“It’s always nice to pay tribute to a group that has done a lot for our program,” Baltes said. “There’s certainly more to do with conference and nationals yet to come and then outdoor season. But they’re a great group of individuals who have done a lot for our team, not just on the track, but in the classroom and as people.”

The Lakers will travel to Tiffin University to take part in the GLIAC Championships on Feb. 27 and 28.