GVSU - Hixson's Historic Vault Highlights Opening Day of 2014 Outdoor Nationals

GVSU - Hixson's Historic Vault Highlights Opening Day of 2014 Outdoor Nationals

Provided by GVSU

ALLENDALE, Mich. - The Grand Valley State track and field teams kicked off competition at the 2014 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Thursday (May 22) at the GVSU Track & Field Stadium, with the women's squad claiming the team lead after day one behind a historic performance from a familiar female vaulter.

After day one of competition, the Lakers lead the women's team race with 28 points, followed by New Mexico Highlands (15), Ashland (14), Pittsburg State (11), Central Missouri (10) and Adams State (10) to round out the top five.

On the men's side, Thornton's eight points has the Lakers tied for fifth with American International and St. Augustine's. Leading the men's competition is Adams State (15), followed by Ashland, Findlay and Southern Indiana all tied with 10 points.

The first Laker competing on day one was sophomore Darien Thornton in the hammer throw. Coming in to the meet with the second-best hammer throw on the season, he stayed true at his entry seed, coming away with a runner-up finish in the first final event of the 2014 nationals. Thornton had a best toss of 65.92 meters (216'3") for the second-place finish, picking up eight team points for the Lakers. Freshman Mike Moon also competed in the event for GVSU, finishing 17th with a throw of 53.37 meters (175'1").

Kristen Hixson dominated the field in the women's pole vault competition, claiming the outdoor title with room to spare, hitting a new all-time Division II record in the process. Hixson was the final competitor standing after clearing 4.20 meters (13'9.25"), then proceeded to clear 4.30 meters (14'1.25"), 4.40 meters (14'5.25"), and then cleared 4.50 meters (14'9") on her third and final attempt, the final height setting a new championship, facility and GVSU record, putting herself at the top spot on the Division II All-Time Outdoor women's pole vault list. It is her third NCAA Division II national title (2012 indoor, 2012 outdoor) and the 4.50 meter mark is the eighth-best women's pole vault in the world this year.

Also earning All-American honors in the women's pole vault was Jennifer Schornak, who finished fifth with a vault of 4.00 meters (13'1.5"). Finishing 12th was Jacqueline Williams (3.80m/12'5.5"), while 13th was Alexandra Kitz (3.80m/12'5.5") based on clearing the bar later than Williams, and Caley Faulkner (3.70m/12'1.5") finished 18th.

In the men's long jump, sophomore Logan Howe finished 13th with a best mark of 7.26 meters (23'10").

A pair of Lakers earned All-American plaudits in the women's hammer throw, as sophomore Laura Schroeder finished fifth with a toss of 57.64 meters (189'1") and senior Alyssa Zokoe was just behind in sixth with a throw of 56.40 meters (185'0") to give GVSU a total of seven points in the event. Freshman Jenae Linville finished 19th with a best throw of 48.14 meters (157'11").

The women's 4x100 meter relay team of Carly Scott, Kayla Addison, Michaela Lewis and Brittney Banister, participating in a preliminary competition, qualified for Saturday's finals by finishing eighth with a time of 46.64 seconds.

Bryce Pulley, with a time of 3:58.21, finished 15th in the 1,500 meter run.

Sarah Talbott, competing in the long jump, had her best mark of the day in her first attempt, finishing 19th with a jump of 5.58 meters (18'3.75").

In the women's steeplechase prelim, the Lakers had a strong showing, as all three Lakers competing have advanced to Friday's final. Hannah Osborn had the third-best prelim time with a mark of 10:41.52, while Katelyn Cliff was seventh (10:47.22) and Jordan Chester was 11th (10:48.63).

TJ Burnett (10th; 52.59) and Logan Hoffman (13th; 52.66) had strong showings, but finished just outside the top-nine final qualifying positions in the 400 meter hurdles.

Unfortunately, the same close-but-no-cigar situation plagued Andrea Kober in the women's 400 hurdles, as she was 11th in the preliminary round (1:00.99), only .18 behind the final qualifying spot.

In the final event of the day, and the only other scored event on day one, the Lakers picked up seven points behind a third-place finish by junior Jessica Janecke (35:29.58) and an eighth-place finish by Courtney Brewis (35:36.57) in the 10,000 meter run. Also running for the Lakers in the event were Alycia Thurston, who finished 11th (35:56.84) and Molly Slavens, who finished 17th (36:29.64).

The schedule for the GVSU student-athletes in Friday's competition is below.

2:00pm – Men’s Discus (Donson)

4:30pm – Men’s High Jump (Chappell)

5:00pm – Women’s Discus (Leppelmeier)

5:45pm – Women’s 200m Prelim (Franklin)

6:00pm – Men’s 800m Prelim (Barnes, Wilk)

6:35pm – Men’s 110m Hurdle Prelim (Wells)

6:40pm – Women’s 110m Hurdle Prelims (Franklin)

7:25pm – Women’s 3000m Steeplechase Final (Osborn, Chester, Cliff)

7:45pm – Men’s 4x400m Prelim

8:05pm – Women’s 4x400m Prelim