GVSU track and field teams shine at Indoor Nationals


Courtesy / gvsulakers.com

Jerod Fattal

The men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at Indoor Nationals in Pittsburg, Kansas on Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9. 

GVSU saw more of the same dominance on the second day, as the GVSU women’s team finished second in the indoor championships, while the men’s team finished fourth.

40 Lakers represented GVSU at Indoor Nationals, but before they had the chance to win national medals in Pittsburg, the program earned four U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association regional awards.

 Zach Panning and Allie Ludge were both named the Midwest Region Men’s and Women’s Track Athletes of the Year, while head coach Jerry Baltes and assistant coach Aaron Watson received the Midwest Region Women’s Head and Assistant Coach of the Year awards.

“It’s a credit to the rest of program,” Baltes said. “We don’t win these awards without the amazing student athletes we have in our program.” 

The Lakers started the meet strong on Friday, earning 12 All-American honors over the course of the first day. 

“It’s important to just go out and be the best you can be (in championship meets),” Baltes said. “We wanted to stay focused on what we could control, execute our race plans and let the results speak for themselves.” 

The women’s team earned the most points (21) of any other team on Friday, with the biggest performance coming from Bobbie Goodwin in the weight throw. She won an individual national title with a throw of 20.75M. 

“She came in ranked sixth and we never talked about her winning the individual title,” Baltes said. “But deep inside, she really believed in herself and it was inspiring to the rest of the team.” 

Allie Ludge earned a silver medal with a time of 4:49.03 seconds, finishing only .08 seconds off of first place.

In the final race of the day, the DMR team of Rachael Walters, Heather Johnson, Abby Crouch, and Allie Ludge earned a bronze medal, crossing the line in 11:29.05 seconds.  

In the 800M, Dennis Mbuta took home a bronze medal with a time of 1:51.33 seconds.

The highlight of the day came in the 5000M, where Zach Panning crossed the line in 13:36.87, earning a silver medal, while breaking his own personal record by 12 seconds and the school record by five seconds in the process. 

“It was an outstanding effort,” Baltes said. “He’s a guy that everyone looks too as a leader for both his words and actions.” 

Saturday saw more of the same dominance for GVSU, as the women earned a second place finish on the back of 64 total team points and 12 podium finishes in their respective categories.

Among those on the podium was Rachael Walters, who broke a school record in the 800m with a time of 2:05.09. Elli Kimes and Carly Livingston also tied for second in the pole vault, as they both cleared 3.93m.

Other top-three finishes included Alli Ludge placing third in the mile and the 4x400m relay team of Walters, Jessica Eby, Sarah Beulla and Heather Johnson crossing the finish line third.

For the men, Mbuta earned a national runner-up finish in the 800m while also setting a new school record at 3:10.81. Panning placed third in the 3,000m run, while the 4x400m relay team  of Daniel Walker, Thomas Capers, Jaylen Hasan and Andrew McFarland broke the indoor school record in the event by 1.29 seconds.

Grand Valley State will now prep for the 2019 outdoor season, as they will compete in the Florida Relays, Raleigh Relays and the Davenport-select meet from March 28-30.