GV battles poor weather conditions in first outdoor meet in Michigan

Courtesy Photo / Margaret Gallagher - SportsImageWire.com
Junior distance runner Tyler Emmorey

Courtesy Photo / Margaret Gallagher – SportsImageWire.com Junior distance runner Tyler Emmorey

Zach Sepanik

For the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track and field teams, the Spartan Invite was just a meet to get a race under their belts, but the cold weather in East Lansing on Saturday made for poor race conditions.

Cold weather or not, the Lakers had a solid day at the unscored meet with seven provisional marks from individual performances.

“Most people did well because it was our first race of the [outdoor] season,” said Simon Nyang, a senior distance runner. “We wanted to start off on a good note. As of today, we were just getting our legs going. The key is to try to improve each week as the season goes on.”

Nyang finished in seventh place in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 3 minutes, 56.25 seconds.

The relay teams served as the highlight on the men’s side. The 4×400 team of freshmen Deonte Hurst, Logan Hoffman and Mohamed Mohamed and senior Eric Lowe finished first with a time of 3:20.20. Later on, the 4×100 team of freshmen Aaron Dewberry and Nathaniel Hammersmith, junior Xavier Parnell and senior Jovon Faulk finished in second place with a time of 42.01.

The field events also saw strong performances, especially from sophomore Donny Stiffler, who earned an NCAA provisional mark in the discus throw with a toss of 162 feet, 11 inches.

“Today, everyone went for it,” Nyang said. “They ran fast to try and make the travel squad, and what I saw was everyone giving it their best. We had to show that we have the potential to run in conference. If you can make the travel team, then you are able to run in conference.”

On the women’s side, sophomore thrower Sam Lockhart led the way by claiming the top spot in the shot put with a provisional mark of 48-2 1/2 and finishing third in the discus with a provisional throw of 149-11.

The relay teams were also a strong point for the women. The 4×400 team of red-shirt freshman Aileen Lemanski, junior Jade Hull and seniors Adrienne Chandler and Kayla Vallar finished in first place with a time of 3:54.72.

“Everyone was performing really well, and considering all the conditions, we did really well as a team,” said freshman distance runner Madie Rodts, who ran the 1,500-meter race for the first time Saturday. “We are still going strong and working toward another national championship. It was pretty good for the first meet.”

Weather conditions is something the team will have to adjust to in outdoor season that weren’t a factor during the indoor season. Even with the time off from the last race of the indoor season, however, the team did not seem to lose a stride in their first outdoor meet.

“It’s not always going to be perfect conditions,” Rodts said. “You can only do your best. We train and work harder, we will get stronger, then the team will improve and times and jumps will improve as a whole. So hopefully we will perform well at conference and at nationals.”

Although it was the first meet and early in the outdoor season, both squads look forward with high expectations.

“After we came back from the Indoor National Championships, let’s keep this rolling, and let’s have the goal to win two more GLIAC championships and make it six for six for the year,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “We want to get as many people to the national championships and get our men in the top-10 and our women back on the podium. That is the carrot way out in front of us. We have the talent, ability and experience that if we work hard and prepare and get better and better, we can accomplish all those goals.”

Both teams will next see action when they send athletes to compete in the Miami Invitational and Bulldog Invitational this weekend.

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