Track and field turns focus to GLIAC

GVL Archive
GVSU Long Distance Runnners lead the pack

GVL Archives

GVL Archive GVSU Long Distance Runnners lead the pack

Zach Sepanik

Three and 13 will be what the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track and field teams have in the back of their minds on Friday and Saturday in Findlay, Ohio. The women’s team will shoot for its 13th-straight GLIAC Championship, while the men go for their third.

“The biggest thing is just focus, composure, keeping the momentum going off of the Tune-Up,” said GVSU head men’s and women’s coach Jerry Baltes. “Knowing what we have been training for all year is this GLIAC Championship and being ready to go when we step off the bus in Findlay on Friday.”

The women’s streak began in 2000, and since the new millennium they have rattled off 12-consecutive GLIAC titles. The resounding feeling among all team members is that they want more.

“Just because we have won 12 straight doesn’t mean that we are going to sit back and not work hard to keep winning,” said junior thrower Sam Lockhart. “We are still hungry no matter what, and we are never satisfied.”

On the other side, the men had won nine straight GLIAC Championships from 2000 to 2008, but were knocked off by Ashland University in 2009 before the Lakers stormed back to win the next two.

“We still want to go out there and beat up on everybody,” said senior sprinter Xavier Parnell. “We have the best conference in the nation for Division II. It is going to be very competitive. The meets that we had so far this year have prepared us for this. It won’t be any different from the Big Meet or the Indiana University Relays, so we have been exposed to the level of competition already.”

For both teams, Ashland will pose the biggest threat to dethroning GVSU as the indoor track and field kings and queens.

“They are our biggest competition, but every team pretty much has somebody, somewhere,” Parnell said. “I think our depth should neutralize that and it should be good for us. I expect to win.”

That depth is what has been the catalyst for the Laker’s success this season, and in order to come away with two GLIAC championships this weekend, it is a key factor that will have to prevail over the competition, Baltes said.

“I think the biggest thing in the conference is each team has some very good individuals,” he said. “It is going to be competitive all the way up and down each event on both sides. We are strong all the way across the board. I really don’t feel that we have any events that we have holes in, or that we can’t score. We feel our depth and consistency
should put us in a good position come Saturday afternoon.”

To get to this point, the coaching staff has made sure each athlete has brought a strong focus to practice each day in order to perform to the best of their abilities come Friday.

“What we talk about is not taking the opportunities for granted no matter what situation you are in,” Baltes said. “Our goal is to go over there and compete for two championships. It will take a total team effort from everyone being ready to compete and supporting one another, to bringing some energy and enthusiasm as well.”

Each athlete feels the hard work they have put in this season will do just that.

“From where we have come at the beginning of the year, I can honestly say we have a great chance,” Parnell said. “We just have to step up, show up like I know we can and compete to the best of our abilities. We should come out with a trophy.”

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