GVSU Track & Field athletes score big numbers at Mike Lints Alumni Open


GVL / Alexis Velazquez

Holly Bihlman, Staff Writer

This past Saturday, Feb. 1, the Grand Valley State Track & Field athletes competed at home, leaving with some high scores and an optimistic outlook on the midseason before GLIAC Championships. With three weekends and five individual meets left before them, the team is cranking out the last of their qualifying scores and working hard to improve every meet. 

On the women’s side, many athletes were placing high on the scoreboards for almost all of the events. Elianne Kimes excelled in the pole vault at 4.00 meters, along with Kassidie Stimmel and Carly Livingston tieing for third at 3.85 meters.

Natalie Graber took first place in the 1-mile with a time of 4.53.29, followed by Jessica Gockley and Hanna Groeber not far behind in second and third. Andee Kimes ran a 1.39.12 in the 600-meter run, Molly McLaughlin took second place with a 2.16.17 in the 800-meter run, Anna Obi scored a 12.04-meter triple jump and Angelica Floyd scored a 5.72-meter long jump.

In the shot put, Erika Lechner did especially well, winning first place with 14.04 meters, and Judith Essemiah took first as well in the weight throw with 18.05 meters. 

The men performed just as well, starting with Andrew McFarland, scoring a 1.19.39 in the 600-meter run, followed by John Groendyk and Noah Fuerst taking first and second place in the 800-meter run with times of 1.52.95 for Groendyk and 1.53.07 for Fuerst.

GVL / Alexis Velazquez

The 4×400 meter relay went well for the men as well, taking fifth place with Andrew McFarland, Noah Fuerst, Tyler Walters and John Groendyk at 3.24.05 minutes. Jacob Battani had a 5.21-meter pole vault, and finally, highlighting the meet, Connor Schwartz finished first in the 1-mile with an outstanding time of 4.09.97. 

“I thought we had some great steps forward,” said GVSU coach Jerry Baltes. “I sort of divide the season into three parts, so we’re transitioning from the early season to the mid-season. This was probably the first mid-season meet where you really start to look and anticipate and hope to get those big performances and big jumps.”

An overall optimistic outlook on the remainder of the season for Baltes, but there is still a lot more work to do in order to keep up with the competition. 

Next week a few athletes will be competing at Notre Dame in Southbend, Indiana, while a few others go to Akron in Cleavland, Ohio, hopefully scoring well and meeting some new competition for the season.

In two weeks, Friday and Saturday the weekend of Feb. 14-15, over 2,000 student athletes will be competing at GVSU, so the preparation only progresses for the track and field athletes. 

“Every meet is a chance to qualify for the national meet, so the sooner you can get the mark and still move forward preparing for the national meet is a good thing,” Baltes said.

The pressure is starting to build for the runners without qualifying scores yet, but there is still two opportunities for high scores in order to compete nationally. 

GVSU was ranked as No. 1 in the NCAA DII Track and Field index on Jan. 30 with a total of 203.29 points, followed by Lincoln and Northwest Missouri. The goal is to stay up there on the charts and show their competition what they can do in the next two weeks.