T&F teams complete busy weekend at EIU

Courtesy / Doug Witte
Sophomore Darien Thornton has broken Grand Valleys record in weight throw twice and is qualified for nationals.

Courtesy / Doug Witte

Courtesy / Doug Witte Sophomore Darien Thornton has broken Grand Valley’s record in weight throw twice and is qualified for nationals.

Andy Smith

The Grand Valley State track and field teams racked up 11 provisional marks and an NCAA qualifying mark over the weekend at the Eastern Illinois University Big Blue Classic in Charleston, Ill.

“It was a great first outdoor meet for us as a team and we had a lot of good performances over the weekend,” GVSU coach Jerry Baltes said. “Since the outdoor season is so short, we have to make the best out of every opportunity that we have to get ourselves ready for conference and the national championships.”

The Laker men, who moved up to the No. 5 spot in the latest USTFCCCA Division II rankings, were once again led by indoor All-American Sean Wells in the three-day event. 

Wells finished third in the 110 meter hurdles with a blistering time of 14.01, once again breaking his own school record of 14.03 set last weekend at the Raleigh Relays.

The hammer throw was another event that stood out for the team, as two athletes showed what they could do by hitting provisional marks. Darien Thornton hit an NCAA automatic qualifying mark for the second week in a row with a first-place throw of 65.73 meters, while Mike Moon hit a provisional mark with his throw of 60.02 meters.

“We did really well as a team in the tough conditions that we faced,” Moon said. “We came out had some really nice throws and achieved some (personal records) as a team. A meet like this builds confidence for us moving forward as a team and helps us realize things that we do need to work on, but once we get in the better weather conditions the numbers should climb in the right direction for us.”

Three runners placed in the top 10 in the 5,000 meter run. Trevor Sharnas placed seventh (15:08.10), Peter Tomkiewicz took eighth (15:08.72) and Kousei  Yajima finished ninth (15:10.13).  

The Lakers hit four other provisional marks on the men’s side from Chris Saikalis (second in shot put), Thornton (fourth in shot put), Trent Chappell (fourth in the high jump) and Chris Saikalis and Blake Donson (seventh in discus).

Laura Schroeder earned the lone qualifying mark on the women’s side Friday for her performance in the hammer throw (58.90 meters). 

“It felt really good to hit a PR in the hammer throw,” Schroeder said. “It shows that my hard work that I have been putting in every week is paying off. I changed a few things and it worked, and the tough competition brought my game to the next level.”

The GVSU women had five other provisional marks and two victories on Saturday. Alexis Duncan hit a provisional mark with her first attempt in the long jump (5.94 meters) while Rebecka Anderson’s 45.15-meter performance in the javelin throw gave her a victory a provisional mark. Sarah Talbot, Jamie Roberts, Alexandra Kitz also hit provisional marks. 

The Lakers are back in action all over the place next weekend. They will be competing in Bowling Green at the Western Kentucky University Hilltopper Relays (Bowling Green, Ky.), the Hillsdale Invitational (Hillsdale, Mich.) and the George Mason Invitational (Fairfax, Va.).