Record breaking track meet at GV


GVL / Meghan Landgren

Josh Carlson, Staff Writer

Records are meant to be broken, and the Grand Valley State University track and field team proved that on Saturday Jan. 23, with two Laker athletes setting school records at the Mike Lints Alumni Open.

Nicole Sreenan ran her way to an automatic qualification and school record in the 400m with a time of 53.47 and a provisional qualification in the 200m race with a time of 24.01. Another record for the Lakers was broken by redshirt senior Isaac Harding in the mile with a time of 4:03.14. Junior Tanner Chada was close behind him with a time of 4:03.74, which also would have broken the previous Lakers record. The previous record was broken by Dennis Mbuta 4:03.84 in 2020.

Coach Jerry Baltes knows everyone on the team has intentions to improve and excel for the Lakers. He’s been happy with his athletes’ record-breaking results so far.

“Sreenan was awesome last year,” Baltes said. “She really just picked up where she left off and continues to do great things. Of course, Harding has been a great addition to the roster, coming in as a grad-student from his days at the University of Michigan. He’s a great leader, a great worker, and a great racer. Those two had exceptional performances this weekend.”

New to the program, and in his second time competing in a Lakers uniform, Harding showed his instant transfer value to the program last Saturday.

“It took me a couple of seconds after to realize that 4:03 was under the school record,” Harding said. “It was a pretty awesome feeling. It was in the back of my mind that I could get that time but it was kind of a surprise.”

Shortly after etching his name into school history, Baltes gave the redshirt senior a unique way to celebrate his achievement.

“We’re early in the season right now, so we are kind of trying to train through this meet a little bit,” Harding said. “So, a little bit after the race, the coaches gave us a workout to do. There wasn’t a ton of celebration until later, but they were obviously satisfied with how the race went.”

The Lakers team had other notable finishes at the meet. Graduate student Allie Ludge gained an automatic qualification in the 3,000m getting first place for the women’s side with a time of 9:28.96. Two-time GLIAC indoor champion, junior Anna Obi, finished first in the triple jump (11.40m). Senior Angelica Floyd sped her way to first in the 60m with a time of 7.59 seconds.

For the men’s team, freshman Jackson Blanchard got his provisional mark, and a first-place finish in the 60m hurdles with an 8.18. Mbuta ran a time of 1:52.31 for first in the 800m and his teammate, junior John Groendyk, finished close behind for second with a time of 1:52.76. Junior Ryan Mount and freshman Elijah Kosiba placed first and second in the high jump leaping 2.06m for the Lakers. Senior Marcus Lubbers cleared 4.75m in the pole vault for a first-place finish and sophomore Chance Setzke finished first in the long jump with a distance of 6.48m.

The last ten months of no competition and only being able to train has been tough on the student-athletes. Setzke is thankful he gets to compete this season and hopeful that it continues to work out for the Lakers.

“It feels really good to be back because we had no idea if we were even going to have a season in the first place,” Setzke said. “We have been taking it week by week. There’s a lot of COVID test, and a lot of protocols to follow even to be here each week. The coaches are really honest, they are like a parent to us, following our schedules apart from their own, doing extra, and we really appreciate it.”

The protocols for the meets have caused it to have a much different feeling than in previous years. Now, meets only allows athletes on the turf and no spectators. It also limits how many athletes compete in their events. That doesn’t change much for the Lakers, who are staying focused for when it comes time to go.

“There’s a lot that’s different, but you just focus on what’s the same and what you can do,” Baltes said. “Let’s just go out and compete, that really hasn’t changed. When the gun goes off, or when you step in the ring or the runway, we are ready to go and compete at a high level. The most important thing is focusing on what you can control and the opportunities that are in front of us.”

The Lakers track and field team will look ahead to their next opportunity Friday, January 29th at 2:00 P.M. They will be hosting the Bill Clinger Classic at the Kelly Family Sports Center, hoping to continue their hot start to the indoor season.