Men take first, women take second at GVSU Open

GVL / Emily Frye      
Wuoi Mach on Friday Jan. 20, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Wuoi Mach on Friday Jan. 20, 2016.

Jacob Arvidson

The Grand Valley State men’s track and field team put on a strong performance at
home at the GVSU Open Friday, Jan. 20. They edged out South Florida by 19
points to take first place with a score of 130.33, while the women’s team took
second, totaling 128 points and falling just short of Eastern Michigan.

“It was a step forward,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes.
“We just want to make some steady progress every week. The distance runners
opened up, we had some good performances there. We had some personal records
across the board–season bests, lifetime bests–we just have to keep making
steady progress and get better every time we come out.”

Samora Nesbitt set the tone in the men’s triple jump,
leaping 14.68 meters to finish first and earn a provisional qualifying mark
which puts him in position to qualify for the national meet.

Chris Saikalis added a strong showing from the throwers as
he threw a 16.99-meter toss in the men’s shot put to take first place and hit a
provisional mark.

Mike Moon also put up a large number for the throwers. His
19.47-meter mark in the weight throw was good for a provisional mark and second
place. Only All-American and GVSU graduate Darien Thornton threw farther than
Moon in the event.

The women’s throwing events also continued to produce
consistent scores. Kyra Hull, Kaylyn Hill and Dajsha Avery each hit provisional
marks in the weight throw for the second straight week with Hull’s 18.71-meter
heave leading the way.

Avery and Hill finished at the top of the shot put field as
well. Avery took the cake with her 14.45-meter throw, but Hill wasn’t far
behind, taking second with her 13.45-meter toss.

“With throwing your numbers can incredibly change in one
meet,” Hill said. “We need every single opportunity we can to try to hit a
better mark. It’s so tight to get in for throws in Division II (for nationals)
and GLIAC because everyone is about the same mark. 

“We come out here and we
throw every single meet because we need every single throw to move that mark.”

The women’s high jump also produced a strong showing as
three Lakers hit provisional marks. Samantha Saikalis, Kathryn Mills and Lauren
Sayre each cleared the bar at 1.65-meters. Saikalis won the tiebreaker and
Mills took second in a jump-off.

“I feel good,” Saikalis said. “It’s what I wanted to jump
today, so I’m content. This year it has been nice because we have a solid group
of high jumpers and we’re all pretty much neck-and-neck going into it, so it
really pushes us to do better. That inner-squad competition is good for us.”

The Lakers had several other big moments on the day, but
they came on the road at Indiana University during the Gladstein Invitational.

“It was good stuff from them and hopefully that experience
pays off for them down the road,” Baltes said.

Emmanuel Arop finished third in the 60-meter dash with a
time of 6.88 seconds, earning him a provisional mark. The time also puts him in
the top five fastest times in Division II this season.

Gary Hickman took sixth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time
of 8.13 seconds. The time was good enough for a provisional mark and puts
Hickman in the top 10 in Division II.

On the women’s side, Angela Ritter, Rachel Walters and Tiara
Wiggins all earned provisional marks and pushed closer to a place at the
national meet. Ritter crossed the finish line for the 400-meter dash in 56.49
seconds to take fifth place. Fifth place also went to Walters in the mile when
she crossed in 4:54.69. Wiggins took fifth place as well, finishing the
60-meter hurdles in 8.70 seconds.

The women’s 4×400-meter relay of Jessica O’Connell, Walters,
Eskolunbe Puente and Ritter also earned a provisional mark, finishing in fourth
place with a time of 3:47.21.

The Lakers are back in action at home Saturday, Jan. 27 at
the Kelly Family Sports Center for the Mike Lints Alumni Meet.