Grand Valley State University’s men’s and women’s track teams started their indoor season on the right foot with strong performances from both sides of the team, building on the team’s success in 2020.
The team kicked off Dec. 3 with the Holiday Open, proving they haven’t skipped a beat with 22 team NCAA DII provisional scores (13 men, 9 women) and having two athletes, senior Isaac Harding and the junior Tanner Chada, with record times in the men’s 5,000 metres.
The record was set by Zach Panning in 2019 (13:46.87). Harding finished in third place with a time of 13:41.87, while Chada followed just behind his teammate in 13:45.19, both receiving their provisional scores for the day.
For the men’s field events, runner-up Eli Kosiba took first place in the men’s high jump, jumping 2.07m, earning his provisional mark. Kosiba was joined by sophomore Myles Kerner and freshman Matt Thomas who also earned their provisional marks in the shot put.
On the women’s side, they have had success in the distance events with five provisional marks. Sophomore Klaudia O’Malley, Senior Allie Ludge and Senior Hannah Becker all got their 3000m scores. Sophomore Sarah May and sophomore Kayce Rympa also got their marks in the women’s 5,000.
In the women’s field events, junior Judith Essemiah won the shot put event earning her provisional score while second Alaina Omonode finished fourth.
“(We) just have to stay focused on the day-to-day process of controlling what you can control,” coach Jerry Baltes said. “(We have to keep) doing the right things inside of training, outside of training, and keep improving steadily. At the end of the vacation, we’ll start by taking a step back, then we’ll start moving forward and building momentum as we move from meeting to meeting.
After winter break, the Lakers hosted and participated in the Bob Eubanks Open on Saturday, January 14. Athletes were able to take a little break from competition because they had so much success at the start of the season. Building on that initial success will be key for the team leading the rest of the season and into conference meetings starting in February.
Baltes noted that these first encounters will help athletes competing in the distance events get a footing and rest after winning the national cross country championship last fall. The teams also have an impressive record to remember, having also won last year’s national championships in track and field.
“We actually don’t face a lot of individuals this weekend,” Baltes said. “At the end of the break, we want to make sure that everyone is in a good physical and sanitary situation. Our distance kids have been running a lot this fall, so we’re a bit more patient with them. So it’s a huge training week for us. That doesn’t mean those who are competing can’t go out and post positive results, but ultimately it’s a starting point and hopefully we will progress and build from there.
The indoor season is just getting started for the Lakers this winter, and it will continue until the University of Michigan Invitational Tournament in Ann Arbor on Jan. 22, where the Lakers will return to peak form.