GV track competes in day one of the GLIAC championship


GVL / Sydney Lim

Brian Bloom, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s track teams hosted the GLIAC championship meet starting on Feb. 26-27. On day one of the championship meet, the men’s team dominated the competition recording 81 points. The second-place team, Northwood University trailed behind with just 35 points. The women’s team also held onto a narrow lead after day one of the meet, scoring 59 points.

“We came out and got some good things done,” coach Jerry Baltes said. “Jessica Gockley in the 5k was outstanding; both DMR’s were lights out. To come out and run those times solo is just outstanding at a conference championship. We advanced a lot of athletes to the conference finals.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams advanced a plethora of runners to the finals starting Feb. 27. 

“A lot of people focus on the winning side of things,” Baltes said. “At our team dinner, I challenged us to focus on competing at a high level, competing with passion, with enthusiasm and for each other. If we do that on day two, we’ll get a lot done and we’ll have positive results.”

The men’s team saw 27 athletes advance to compete in the conference finals. Of those 27, a number of athletes took first place overall for the preliminary races including senior Enael Woldemichael in the 5000m with a 200 track record time of 14:25.61. Senior Makiyah Smallwood took the 60m hurdles, posting a time of 8.09 and the Distance Medley Relay team of sophomore Caleb Futter, sophomore Myles Rhodes, junior John Groendyk and sophomore Isaac Harding ran a time of 9:40.86; this time is now the new GLIAC championship meet record, 200 track record and 300 track record.

“We should have a nationals time in the DMR,” Harding said. “It’s a confidence builder for me personally, having a good mile, it’s very satisfying. For about the last 200 meters (of the DMR), Coach (Baltes) was telling me I needed about a 30 second 200 to get nationals time, so I was just trying to not think about much and just pump my arms faster and not let my form deteriorate.”

On the women’s side of the meet, 32 runners advanced to the conference finals on Feb. 27.

“I’m really proud of (the team),” senior Jessica Gockley said. “Two weeks ago, we were disappointed about our performances, so it’s nice to come back and compete again when everyone is running well.”

Junior Judith Essemiah threw a distance of 20.08 meters in the weight throw, beating her distance from last year’s meet when she won the GLIAC championship. Like the men’s 4000m Distance Medley Relay, the women’s relay team of sophomore Klaudia O’Malley, freshman Taryn Chapko, sophomore Molly McLaughlin and senior Allie Ludge placed first, running a time of 11:36.49. The final member of the women’s meet to win her event was Glockley in the 5000m run. She shattered the GLIAC championship meet record and the 200 track record with her time of 16:29.42.

“(To carry momentum into day two) we need to just take it race by race,” Gockley said. “I just focused on the 5k and doing the best I could and once the race is over, it’s all about recovering well, eating, feeling well and focusing on the next race.”

The men’s and women’s teams will be back in action on March 11, as they travel to Pittsburg, Kansas to compete for a national championship trophy. 

“Everything is a progression, everyone is in different spots, some of our crew is in the national meets, so they had different preparation this week and they weren’t necessarily making (the GLIAC championship) their focus,” Baltes said. “Some of our throwers weren’t on their “A”-game Saturday, but that’s because they’re set up to be ready to go in two weeks.”