Track and field starting off spring season on fire


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Shawn Robinson, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University track and field team has been on an absolute tear this season despite all of the obstacles COVID-19 has presented. After not having a season last year, both national and school records have been broken and this team has proved to have some special talent on the roster. 

“We got a lot of really, really good records out there,” said coach Jerry Baltes. “Individuals have stepped up and have gotten stuff done. We’re only three weeks into the season and individuals have done a great job all the way since the pandemic started. They’ve continued to train at a high level and kept their goals at the forefront of why they’re training.”

Staying safe, wearing masks, and getting tested has become normal for college athletes in their everyday lives during COVID-19. In the midst of all of this however, the team has still been successful and stayed resilient. 

“It’s been a challenge for sure,” Baltes said. “You just have to stay at it, keep the grind, stay focused and control what you can control. You have to make sure your making decisions for the right reasons. You can’t necessarily be in fear of the virus but respect the virus and understand if you don’t, it can affect your teammates and housemates. We have to understand that every decision you make not only affects you but everyone around you as well.” 

Although the pandemic has been a challenge, the GVSU track team has still stayed focused on their goals for this season. Dennis Mbuta, a senior distance runner, has been off the charts this season. Earlier this year in February, he was part of the medley relay team that broke the GVSU and National Division II record. 

“Being able to race this year feels good,” Mbuta said. “It feels good to have my name up there with other great athletes. It’s a great honor.”

In 2019, Mbuta finished first in the GLIAC Indoor Championships in the 800-mile and the distance medley relay. He also broke a GVSU record in the 800 at the GVSU Big Meet. 

“After that season, I felt good about myself and what I had accomplished,” Mbuta said. “Not having a season last year in 2020 made me upset of course, so I felt that during this season I had to set the bar high for myself and make sure I was training and doing everything coach wanted me to do.”

This season, Mbuta has broken the 800-mile indoor GVSU time again with a time of 1:48:62. He has also broken the outdoor 800m as well, finishing the race at 1:48:24.

Even though track and field is more of an individual sport, Baltes has made sure this team his team has stayed together. 

“It’s difficult because everyone may be in different places when training and competing,” Baltes said. “We try to keep the team as a center point and find a greater good in what we’re trying to accomplish for the team. Over the next two, three weeks as we get closer to the conference championship, that’ll be the focus of our moving forward and trying to bring the team together even more so.”

With the GLIAC and NCAA Championships coming up next month, the team still has more to accomplish and much work to do. 

“The big goal for the team is to come out with that national trophy,” Mbuta said. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, practicing, and training making sure we’re ready to go.” 

The GVSU track and field team is ready for whatever challenges come their way. With a handful of meets left in the season before championships, the team looks eager to finish out this season and continue to compete at a high level, maybe even breaking more school and national records along the way.