Big Meet means big opportunities for GVSU

GVL / Megan Sinderson
Jordan Chester, Sophomore, running the mile at the GVSU quad meet.

Megan Sinderson

GVL / Megan Sinderson Jordan Chester, Sophomore, running the mile at the GVSU quad meet.

Pete Barrows

It’s safe to say few athletes will find themselves lonesome Friday or Saturday at the Kelly Family Sports Center. Last year, 1800 athletes and 80 teams competed in Grand Valley State University’s Big Meet and comparable attendance is expected this year.

“One of the cool things about it is that there are teams from all over,” said GVSU distance coach Nick Polk. “We’ve got Division II teams like Adams State coming, teams from the Midwest, a lot of teams we’ve competed against – Illinois schools, Ohio schools, Indiana schools – new people.”

Few athletes will be out purely for themselves either.

“Another cool thing about this meet is that people are just looking to run fast,” Polk said. “They’re not necessarily looking to win races – it’s more of a time trial atmosphere. Everyone’s here to help each other run fast.”

With only one more meet left after this weekend separating the Lakers from the GLIAC Championships, which will be held here at GVSU on Feb. 23 and 24 there won’t be a better opportunity for athletes to run fast the rest of the way.

“This is a big weekend for us,” said GVSU’s head track and field coach Jerry Baltes. “This is our qualifying weekend. In a lot of events, this is our last really, really big shot. We can still qualify those last two weeks, but this is our big weekend that we’ve been shooting for to get fast times.”

The GVSU men ranked back up to No. 5 this week in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll as the GVSU women narrowly held out at No. 1. Both teams are in good shape and there will be time to improve both placements in the coming weeks.

“Just across the board, I think there’s at least one person in every event where we can try and get a big mark,” said sprint, hurdle and relay coach Keith Roberts. “Conference (GLIAC Championship) is another week where we try to do that, but conference is more about that final score at the end of the day.”

For now, it’s the times, not the placement, which will need to be tended to.

“The goal is to just try to hit qualifying times,” Polk said. “I’m not really concerned if our guys are first, or fifth or tenth. As long as they hit the time we want them to hit.”

With the indoor season nearing a close, Baltes has his team paced for an exciting finish. With both conference and national titles up for grabs, it’s still anyone’s race and Baltes emphasizes that his program does not take the indoor season lightly.

“A lot of programs will train through the indoor season,” Baltes said. “We’re not training through the indoor season. We’re ready to go and we’re going to put our best foot forward.”
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