GV track and field teams dominate national tournament


Courtesy of GVSU Athletics

Josh Rochette, Editorial Intern

The men and women’s Grand Valley State University indoor track and field teams both entered last week’s NCAA Division II tournament as champions of the GLIAC. The men were ranked second behind Ashland in the polls and the women were at the top of the rankings.

This thriller of a national competition found the rankings to prove true, with the women securing their third indoor title and the men falling 17 points short in second to Ashland. The action was spread across three days from March 11-13 and brought GVSU’s best from Allendale to Birmingham, Alabama.

The women’s title is the fifth national title of head coach Jerry Baltes’ 22 seasons at GVSU, though his tenure has shown to be one of major success over those years.

“For half the roster, this was their first time at a national meet, so to have that, come in, and still take care of business is promising,” said Baltes.

Though the men came in behind Ashland, they still distanced themselves from the competition by showing the same depth on events that won them the GLIAC title.

“The more 10-point spots the better, but nickel and diming we call it, is getting all those other points to stack on top of that,” said Baltes.

The Lakers had several notable performances throughout the event from the likes of the distance medley relay, senior Dennis Mbuta in the 800-meter run, senior Isaac Harding in both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter run, and senior Justin Scavarda in the shot put.

Dennis Mbuta was the only national champion to come from the men’s team this indoor season, but the women came out with several of their own. Among those were senior Ellianne Kimes in the pole vault, senior Angelica Floyd in the 60-meter dash, the distance medley relay team, and senior Nicole Sreenan in the 400-meter dash.

Though all of the women’s national champions performed to the best of their abilities and contributed to the win as a whole, Sreenan alone put up 21 points across 3 events. She ran in the 4×400 meter relay getting 4th place, then the 200-meter dash to get 3rd, and finally, a first-place finish in the 400-meter.

Sreenan was named Midwest Track Athlete of the Year for the second indoor season in a row, and Baltes was named the best women’s coach in Division II track and field.

“I got that award last year, but the season ended before nationals,” Sreenan said. “To get it again and win a national title makes it feel more real.”

Baltes named Sreenan as a key performer for the women and named her as the woman on the team that gets at it harder than the rest, something that the scoresheet corroborates.

The indoor season may be over, but the outdoor season picks up in less than a week on March 19, with the men and women of both teams competing in Tampa. They look to continue the indoor season dominance and begin in Tampa on proving why the Lakers belong on top.