Two School Records, Two Automatic Marks at Big Blue Classic
Provided by GVSU
CHARLESTON, Ill. - The Grand Valley State track and field teams traveled to the Eastern Illinois Big Blue Classic and came away with a plethora of top marks, as the men and women combined for 23 qualifying marks, including two automatic marks in addition to two new school records.
The squads will send student-athletes to both the Hillsdale Invite (Hillsdale, Mich.) and the Hilltopper Relays (Bowling Green, Ky.) next Saturday (Apr. 12).
On the men's side, Darien Thornton hit the lone automatic qualifying mark, unleashing a throw of 64.05 meters (210'2") to win the event. He also placed fourth in the shot put with a provisional mark of 16.59 meters (54'5.25"), while Chris Saikalis finished second in the event with a provisional mark of 17.22 meters (56'6").
The best individual performance at the meet may have come from Tendo Lukwago, who hit two provisional marks and set a new school record. Lukwago won the long jump with a mark of 7.22 meters (23'8.25"), then hit a school-record triple jump mark of 14.90 meters (48'10.75") to win that event, as well. He beat his own triple jump mark of 14.56 meters (47'9.25") set last season.
Bret Myers put his name on the provisional qualifying list as well, winning the pole vault with a clear of 5.00 meters (16'4.75"). Nathan Dekam, who finished fourth in the discus throw, notched a provisional mark of 49.18 meters (161'4").
On the track, the lone men's qualifying mark belonged to Sean Wells, who finished third with a provisional time of 14.26 seconds in the finals.
A school record fell in the 4x800 meter relay for the Lakers, an event that is not run often by GVSU student-athletes. The team of Jeremy Wilk, Bryce Pulley, Nicholas Wharry and Ethan Barnes won with a school-record time of 7:42.95, besting the previous record of 7:44.01 set back in 2008.
On the women's side of the action, a familiar face found herself hitting an automatic qualifying mark, as Kristen Hixson won the pole vault with a height of 4.20 meters (13'9.25"), the top mark in Division II this outdoor season by 8.25 inches and only 0.25 inches off her own school record. She paced a group of five Lakers who hit qualifying marks, with the other four notching provisional heights, including Caley Faulkner in fourth (3.75m/12'3.5"), Jennifer Schornak in sixth (3.75m/12'3.5"), Alexandra Kitz in 11th (3.60m/11'9.75") and Skylar Schoen in 15th (3.60m/11'9.75").
The hammer throw duo of Laura Schroeder (second; 54.79m/179'9") and Alyssa Zokoe (fifth; 52.61m/172'7") hit provisional qualifying marks, while Rebecka Anderson hit GVSU's first provisional javelin mark in years with a first-place toss of 43.35 meters (142'3").
Rounding out the women's throws performance was Becca Leppelmeier, who hit a provisional mark in the shot put with a toss of 13.52 meters (44'4.25").
On the running side of things, Kalena Franklin had her first huge outdoor performance of the season, winning the 100 meter hurdles in a time of 13.66 seconds, the fourth-best mark in Division II this season, and finishing second in the 200 meter dash (24.36), both provisional qualifying marks.
In distance action, Hannah Osborn posted the fourth-best steeplechase mark in Division II this season with a winning time of 10:45.01, pacing a trio of Lakers to hit provisional marks. She was followed by Katelyn Cliff in third (11:04.07) and Jordan Chester in fourth (11:05.20).
Allyson Winchester posted a provisional qualifying mark and picked up a victory in the 5,000 meter run, crossing the line in a time of 17:04.50.