GVSU's Hixson Earns Spot in Nationals at Mike Lints Alumni Open

GVSU's Hixson Earns Spot in Nationals at Mike Lints Alumni Open

Provided by GVSU

ALLENDALE, Mich. - The Grand Valley State track and field teams hosted the Mike Lints Alumni Open inside the Kelly Family Sports Center on Friday (Jan. 17) and the women's squad officially put its name on the list for the 2014 NCAA Division II Indoor National Championship meet thanks to senior Kristen Hixson.

In her first competition of the 2013-14 indoor season, Hixson, a former national champion, took over the top spot in the pole vault in all of Division II. Hixson won the event with a height of 4.15 meters (13'7.25"), giving her the top mark in Division II this season by nearly six inches and officially earning her spot at the national championship meet as it was an automatic qualifying mark. She becomes the first GVSU track and field athlete this year to earn an automatic qualifying mark.

The women's track and field team, which was ranked #2 in the preseason USTFCCCA rankings this week, got 13 provisional qualifying marks and four event victories on the day in addition to Hixson's automatic mark.

In other field event action for the women, senior Alyssa Zokoe won the weight throw with a provisional mark of 18.34 meters (60'2"), followed by sophomore Laura Schroeder hitting a provisional mark of her own as the runner-up with a best toss of 18.13 meters (59'5.75"). Freshman Becca Leppelmeier, whose weight throw mark of 15.99 meters was only a centimeter short of a provisional mark, did hit a provisional mark in the shot put with a throw of 13.57 meters (44'6.25"), good enough for second place.

Six provisional qualifying marks were had by the Lakers' 3,000 meter team. Junior Jessica Janecke won the event with a time of 9:48.20, leading a group of five Lakers to finish inside the top eight of the event. Sophomore Allyson Winchester was fourth (9:53.27), junior Hannah Osborn was fifth (9:53.97), junior Jordan Chester was seventh (9:58.72) and senior Madie Rodts was eighth (9:58.99). The last provisional mark of the event went to senior Molly Slavens, who finished in 11th with a time of 10:07.00.

Senior Kalena Franklin was part of three provisional marks, including an 8.68-second performance in the 60 meter hurdles, the top mark of prelims. She hit a provisional mark in the 400 meter dash with a time of 55.96 seconds to finish second, and joined sophomore Brittany Terry and seniors Andrea Kober and Lisa Galasso to hit a provisional mark in the 4x400 meter relay with a time of 3:51.21 to win the event.

Galasso hit a provisional mark of her own in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:11.53 to finish third.

In men's action, the Lakers dominated the weight throw competition, sweeping the top four spots, all with provisional qualifying marks. Sophomore Darien Thornton notched yet another victory with a toss of 19.53 meters (64'1"), and he was followed by sophomore Blake Donson in second (18.59m/61'0"), sophomore Jay Lechner in third (18.14m/59'6.25") and freshman Lovell Peterson in fourth (17.47m/57'3.75"), all with provisional marks.

Thornton also notched a top-five finish in the shot put with a mark of 15.22 meters (49'11.25"), but was outdone by freshman teammate Chris Saikalis, who finished third with a provisional qualifying mark of 15.90 meters (52'2").

Senior Tendo Lukwago was in action for the first time this indoor season and he did not disappoint, winning the triple jump with a mark of 14.50 meters (47'7"), a provisional qualifying mark.

Another field event victory and provisional qualifying mark went to junior Trent Chappell in the high jump, as he won with a height of 2.07 meters (6'9.5").

The final men's victory of the meet came from sophomore Sean Wells in the 60 meter hurdles. Wells was the top qualifier in prelims with a time of 8.29 seconds, then blew that mark away in the finals with a time of 8.10 seconds to win the event with a provisional qualifying time.

Wells then teammed up with senior Logan Hoffman, sophomore Daniel Pung and freshman TJ Burnett to finish second in the 4x400 meter relay with a provisional qualifying time of 3:18.00.

Freshman Bryce Bradley hit a provisional mark in the 3000 meter run, finishing with a runner-up time of 8:26.32.

Both the men's and women's teams won their respective sides of the score competition, with the men tallying 128.5 points and the women recording 127.5 points.

The Lakers will be back in action next Friday (Jan. 24) at 3 p.m. in University Center, when they take on GLIAC rival Saginaw Valley State in dual-meet action inside the Ryder Center on the campus of SVSU.