Lakers start outdoor track and field season right against Saginaw Valley

Zach Sepanik

The dawn of a new era began Saturday for the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track and field teams as they defeated Saginaw Valley State University at the brand new Laker Track and Field Stadium.

The No. 16-ranked men had three athletes hit NCAA Division II provisional marks as they won 126-54, while the No. 1-ranked women swept 12 events en route to a 123-45 victory.

“In the first meet for outdoor, we had some great performances all the way across the board,” said GVSU men’s and women’s head coach Jerry Baltes. “Once we get into more training, better weather and more competition, it should put us in a great spot as we move through the year.”

The 3,000-meter steeplechase saw strong performances by both the men and the women with each runner capturing first place. Senior Jeff Nordquist set a provisional mark with a time of 9 minutes, 16.31 seconds. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Hannah Osborn crossed the finish line with a time of 11:07.28.

“At practice we usually just do steeple drills twice a week,” Osborn said. “We also do extra strength training for it. We didn’t do any water jumps last week, but you can’t train too much beside the running aspect. It is always curious to see where you stand at this point in the year compared to where you were last year.”

Senior sprinter Xavier Parnell also had several big performances throughout the meet for the Laker men. In the 100-meter dash, he took first in a time of 10.78 seconds, and followed that up with a second-place finish in the 200-meter dash in 22.12. Parnell also helped the 4×100-meter relay team, consisting of freshmen Brent VanEnk and Jesse Schwartz and sophomore Nathaniel Hammersmith, claim first place in 41.95.

“The training has paid off,” said Parnell. “Coming from indoor, you can really see the conditioning take effect, even this early in the season. That is encouraging. As long as we progress, we can only get better from here and we should be alright. It is a great starting point.”

Junior thrower Donny Stiffler hit a provisional mark in the shot put with a throw of 17.41 meters, and also took first-place in the discus, while Hoffman earned the last provisional mark on the men’s side with a time of 53.46 in the 400-meter hurdles.

The women were again led by the throwing crew. Junior Liz Murphy set an automatic qualifying mark in the hammer throw with a toss of 57.52 meters in a first-place effort. Senior Lauren Buresh hit a provisional mark in the shot put, while junior Sam Lockhart did so in the discus.

In the sprints, freshman Brittney Banister took the top spot in the 100-meter dash, with sophomore Leiah Hess and senior Adrienne Chandler finishing first and second in the 400-meter dash. Finally, in the 1,500-meter run, the Lakers claimed the first three positions as senior Karie McDonald finished in 4:36.08, with junior Julia Nowak and senior Chanelle Caldwell close behind.

“I think it was a meet of getting used to the elements and the size of the track,” Osborn said. “There were some great times, but it was a transition meet. Overall, the team did great. If everyone progressively improves, we should be good to go.”

The Lakers are back in action this Saturday as the vaulting crew will head to Michigan State University to compete, with the throwers, sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers traveling to Duke University for the Duke Invitational. The distance group will take the weekend off to train.

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