GVSU track and field ready to take on Division I opponents

GVL / Robert Mathews
Senior Amy Reynolds

GVL / Robert Mathews Senior Amy Reynolds

Pete Barrows

The Grand Valley State University indoor track and field program is one of the top programs in the country and they have the hardware to prove it. This Saturday, they’ll put their reputation to the test for the first time officially in 2013 when they welcome competition from around the state.

The Kelly Family Sports Center will once again play host and the Lakers will compete against Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University, and Hillsdale College in the GVSU Quad, then will be followed by a dual-meet between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University in the Kelly Center.

“It’s a really exciting weekend for track and field in Michigan,” said former GVSU All-American and current assistant coach Nick Polk. “We have six of the top teams in Michigan. We get to see competition between Division I and Division II and host a meet that’s very unlike any meet we’ve ever seen before in our facility with Michigan and Michigan State.”

With four warm-up meets already under their belt this season, GVSU indoor track is already ahead of the curve. The men’s team jumped rankings from 16th to fifth, and the women remain at No. 1 after impressive performances in the Mike Lints Alumni Open.

“Especially on the guys side, this has been the best start we’ve had in quite some time,” said track and field head coach Jerry Baltes. “We’ve had a lot of young kids step in.

Ahead of schedule, this year’s team will be tossed into scored completion earlier than ever.

“Normally at this point in the season, we’re not talking about winning meets,” Polk said. “We’re talking about trying to run qualifying times to make it to the NCAA’S. For the first time this early in the season we’re talking about coming together as a team to try to win a meet, which isn’t normally the case. This is going to be great prep for conference and nationals for us.”

The competition will be impressive all day, but the Lakers remain determined.

“All three programs are great programs with great competition and athletes,” Baltes said. “We’re definitely hyped up and excited to compete, and unlike the last four meets we’ve posted, there’s going to be a winner and loser at the end of the day from a team perspective and we definitely want to win the darn thing.”

Junior Logan Hoffman is also ready to start chasing down a few goals this weekend.

“As a team, we had a little goal setting session and we decided that we kind of want to put aside places at nationals right now and get as many guys as we can to the national meet,” Hoffman said. “Buy as many plane tickets as we can. Take it step-by-step, we just want to get there first.”

As a division II program, GVSU would be out of their league in many other sports – not track and field.

“One of our goals is to be able to compete at the highest level regardless of division,” Polk said. “We recruit a lot against those schools. We are pulling for the same type of athletes, same kids, so we should be able to compete with them.”

Junior hurdler Kalena Franklin is optimistic about her team’s chances.

“We’re going against two schools that are Division I, hoping to crush them,” Franklin said. “To be honest, we just hope to murder them in all areas. Our girls are ready.”

Admission is free to all students and $7 at the door for all other admissions. The quad meet will begin at 1 p.m.

“We’ll be bringing in a lot of people to the university and to the campus that haven’t probably been here,” Polk said. “The best thing would be to have a lot of campus support for this.

One way to consider it is if our football team were playing those teams. It’d be a big deal, so hopefully we get the same love.”

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