Pete Barrows

Sports Journalist —

Archive for January 2013

Award named after GVSU’s Baltes

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Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

In the bowels of the Grand Valley State University Fieldhouse Arena, there is a hidden shrine. Tucked away in the basement, down a hallway rarely traversed by students, office room 97 could be passed a thousand times and never given a second glance. A workspace shared by distance track and field coach Nick Polk and head coach Jerry Baltes, the office, subtle and modest, is everything you’d expect a coach’s office to look like – that is, until you cross the threshold, sit down on the tightly arranged leather love seat and look around.

Trophies and plaques decorate every available inch and seemingly pour from the walls. To catalogue the treasure trove in full would require a separate article, but 50 GLIAC Coach of the Year titles, 33 Great Lakes/Midwest Regional Coach of the Year awards, six national championships and counting headline the haul– and it’s only taken coach Baltes 14 years to collect the bounty.

GVL / Robert MathewsJerry Baltes

GVL / Robert Mathews
Jerry Baltes

Last Thursday the U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced that the Division II Women’s Program of the Year Award had been renamed in Baltes honor.

“It’s our honor to name this award after coach Baltes,” said Sam Seemes, CEO of the USTFCCCA. “His teams at GVSU have shown great excellence in recent years and his name will forever be etched with this award. His team made history as the first to earn a Division II triple crown and that should be celebrated for generations to come.”

GVSU Athletic Director Tim Selgo was pleased with the extension of the program’s legacy as well.

“We are very proud that coach Baltes has been honored by the USTFCCCA with the naming of the Division II Women’s Program of the Year, the Jerry Baltes Award,” Selgo said. “It is a well-deserved honor for Jerry and will bring great recognition to GVSU for many, many years. This is just one more way that Jerry, his staff and student athletes have put Grand Valley into the national limelight.”

With over 107 All-Americans produced during his tenure, Baltes hasn’t been able to do it on his own. It has taken time and many contributions to pave the track.

“It’s humbling, but the thing of it is that the recognition is because of so many other people involved in our program over the years,” Baltes said. “Prior to me getting here and Tim Selgo and the administration committing to track and field, which hadn’t been done before, all the way back to coach Bill Klinger who started the program on very little to nothing, and of course all of our student athletes over the years, my assistant coaches and our athletic trainers.”

The magnitude of the accomplishment was not lost on Baltes, but he doesn’t intend to linger.

“It was unexpected, but hopefully it’s not the last thing that I’m responsible or recognized for,” Baltes said. “It’s a great recognition, but we’re just moving full speed ahead and working hard to try and accomplish that next positive thing as a team.”

For Baltes, it’s the days, not the accolades, that count.

“What we just try to focus on is the everyday process,” Baltes said. “Getting up every day and stepping out of bed with a positive attitude, ready to work hard and do well whatever you do. Whether that’s in the classroom, or at track practice, or community service, or working your part time job or being a good brother, sister, friend – whatever it is. If we do that, those type of things good every day, or do well at the everyday things, the big things will eventually happen.”

Off to a strong start in 2013, the Lakers won’t be allowed to linger either.

“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and try to do well,” Baltes said. “We’ve got a good season started here, but we’ve got a long ways to go.”

To read the original post “Award named after GVSU’s Baltes”, click here at the Lanthorn online.


Written by peterdbarrows

January 31, 2013 at 8:36 am

Freshmen adapt to fuel track, field team

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Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer 

Courtesy / Doug WitteSean Wells

Courtesy / Doug Witte
Sean Wells

When it’s clear that you’re going to have to sustain off of something other than mom’s cooking, sleep in a bunked bed in a confined dorm room you’re sharing with a roommate, both of which are capable of cramping your style, the burning realization dawns that being away from home has its drawbacks. Being a freshman away at school can be tough, there’s no doubt about it. However, being a student athlete on top of that can be downright trying.

By the looks of it, track and field student athletes are having very little difficulty with the adjustment so far.

“Well, I can say firsthand that everyone tells you that college is a big transition and that it’s going to be tough and you can kind of wipe it off like it’s not a big deal,” said freshman miler and 3,000-meter runner Kate Cliff. “Once you get there, you realize there are a lot of extra stresses and you have to grow up a lot quicker and I’d say that our team is really, really welcoming and has made the transition easier for all of us.”

Sean Wells, freshman 60-meter hurdler and 200-meter dash participant, and Darien Thornton, freshman shot-putter and weight throw participant, have been two of the more impressive performers on the top five nationally ranked men’s team all season.

Wells, who has taken first in the 60-meter hurdles in both the Mike Lints Open and GVSU Quad Meet, never expected to be a contributor this early in his career.

“Definitely not what I expected,” Wells said. “From being in senior year in high school and hearing that you really have to adapt to everyone, I was just coming in here wanting to learn, wanting to get faster, racing the faster guys. This year surprised myself, you know, just training hard.”

The current GVSU school record in the 60-meter hurdles is 8.02 seconds set in 2007 by Garron Lucious. With a personal record of 8.2 in the distance established, Wells already has his sights set on creating a legacy.

“I’m going to make sure I beat that, at least by the time I finish here,” Wells said.

Thornton too has already surpassed his expectations, but has his sights on what the future might bring.

“I didn’t expect it,” Thornton said. “I wanted it more than expected it. I wanted to work hard. It was a goal, definitely a goal, and with the help of coach, looks like we’re getting that goal.”

Besides achieving personal records and All-American honors, team achievements are points of emphasis.

“I don’t know about this year, but soon to come I want to get a national title,” Thornton said. “We had a good recruiting class this year, coming in for next year.”

Freshman distance runner Amy Creutz understands the correlation of both personal and team goals already.

“If we all do our part and all make our own individual goals – whether that be All-American, make an automatic time – I think overall our team will be successful,” Creutz said.
It’s evident is that the freshman class has been successfully integrated. How this happened is another matter entirely.

“I guess for me just having the support of the upperclassmen has been huge,” said freshman distance runner Alison Work when categorizing the early success. “They’ve been really encouraging and really supportive, pushing us to take that extra step and reminding us to do the little things every day – keep on our nutrition and sleeping.”

The acceptance of coaches has been a universal factor, as well.

“Encouragement from the coaches, especially because you think ‘freshman, no one’s really going to pay attention to you,’ but the coaches are really involved,” said freshman distance runner Katie Shaheen.

Mom’s cooking will undoubtedly still be missed, but the clearly symbiotic relationship and early growing process that has taken place this year has benefited all parties involved.

“I don’t think I could be here and not be on the track team,” Thorton said. “I don’t know if I could make it.”

To read the original post “Freshman adapt to fuel track, field team”, click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

January 31, 2013 at 8:31 am

GVSU men come away victorious, but the women come up short

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By Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

During Grand Valley’s September 8th ‘Black-Out Game’ 83-46 drubbing of Notre Dame (Ohio), an attendance of 15,139 fans was calculated – good for the second highest mark ever recorded at Lubbers Stadium. The sport was football, not basketball, despite what the score might indicate

Football-fan-flocks did not congregate for the GVSU Quad Meet on Saturday, but the 1,062 was a healthy count for the likes of indoor track and field at a Division II university.

Megan Sinderson/ GVLAllyson Winchester, Freshman, during the 3000 meter run at the GVSU quad meet.

Megan Sinderson/ GVL
Allyson Winchester, Freshman, during the 3000 meter run at the GVSU quad meet.

As anticipated, it was a busy day of track and field at GVSU. Two meets and five other schools, four of which were Division I, were hosted. 45 NCAA Division II qualifying marks were collected by the Lakers (21 by the men, 24 by the women) and a new record was paced by the GVSU men’s 4X400 team, consisting of juniors Nathaniel Hammersmith, Chris Teitsma, Mohamed Mohamed and Logan Hoffman.

The men’s team, ranked fifth heading into the meet, tasted victory for the first time officially this season, ousting Eastern Michigan by a score of 164.5 to 154.5. Central Michigan finished third with a score of 124, and Hillsdale took fourth with 61.

The women’s squad, ranked first heading into the day, had to settle for second place. The Lakers were 2.5 points back on Eastern Michigan with one final race to go. The 4X400 set-up as a thriller with the meet on the line. The Eagles held on with a score of 166.5 to the Laker’s 162. Central Michigan finished third with 97 points, Hillsdale fourth with 67.5.

On the day, 9 points were awarded to first place, the lady Lakers only needed 4.5.

“Eastern is really, really good, and has a really good squad,” said GVSU head coach Baltes. “I think they’ll compete for the MAC title. They’re ranked, I believe, ninth. On the flip side, I would have loved to beat them. I’m sure we could have on the ladies side gone one spot, you know flip-flop with Eastern Michigan – we take a few more points, take a few points away, there’s a different score. We just needed a couple of things to go our way here and there and we’re in a little better spot.”

The loss was disappointing, but freshman Katie Shaheen was able to trace a silver lining.

“It was definitely nice to keep everyone on their toes,” Shaheen said. “It motivated everyone and made us all work harder. I know that although some people might not say it, if we were way ahead some people would have been like ‘oh, we’re way ahead’, but Eastern gave us a really good run for our money. It brought a good team dynamic.”

Junior Kalena Franklin was once again one of the top performers, turning in a 8.53 second second-place finish in the 60-meter hurdle, but chose instead to defer to her male teammates.

“Our boy’s 4X4 broke the school record and they’re in fifth right now,” Franklin said. “The boys haven’t run for nationals yet, but they’re right there.”

Coach Baltes was unwilling to address the national championship picture quite yet.

“I don’t know national championship, but top four bring home a trophy so that’s something that you definitely want to strive for,” Baltes said. “We’re ranked fifth right now and those rankings usually hold true. If we can stay in that range, we should be in the mix.”

The 2013 season has gotten off to an undeniable strong start, but it’s just the beginning, A dual-meet with Saginaw Valley State is scheduled for Friday and both the men’s and women’s teams still have points of emphasis to consider. During an intermission nestled between the conclusion of the GVSU Quad Meet and the commencement of University of Michigan and Michigan showdown, GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes took the opportunity to huddle his team.

“What I want you guys to evaluate and accept is that every point matters,” Baltes said. “My point is that every place matters. That’s the point,”

The GVSU track and field teams will next be in action this Friday, when they travel to take on rival Saginaw Valley State in a dual meet at 4 p.m.

To read the original post “GVSU men come away victorious, but the women come up short” click here 

at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

January 28, 2013 at 9:34 am

GVSU study reveals men and women still aren’t equal

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Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer

Evolution requires millions of years to transgress nature, but in sports, an evolution has transpired right in front of our eyes over the course of 40 years.

Made effective June 23, 1972, the infamous Title IX is an educational amendment that guarantees that no person on the basis of sex shall be excluded from participation in any activity receiving federal financial benefits.

Today, women comprise 42 percent of high school sports participants, 43 percent of intercollegiate sports participants, and most assume that this is only the beginning for women in sport.

A recent study conducted by the associate professor of psychology at Grand Valley State University, Robert Deaner, cautions against that assumption.

Inspired by Deaner’s observation that there’s a strong belief governing our policy that’s at odds with evolutionary theory, the study is predicated off of three extensive surveys.

The study, titled “A Sex Difference in the Predisposition for Physical Competition: Males Play Sports Much More than Females Even in the Contemporary U.S.” was published by PLOS ONE.

“I keep an open mind, but I don’t expect we’re ever going to find in our lifetime that women’s interest is really as great as men’s in competitive sport, especially in the so-called masculine sports with the direct competition that might involve physical contact,” Deaner said.

The conclusion: that on average, American men actually play sports about three times as often as American women and that it’s no accident that they do. In what Deaner describes as the evolved male predisposition hypothesis, he discusses evolutionary factors that predispose males toward sport and dispels the notion that men and women only differ because of the social environments that shaped them throughout their lives.

The question is does Title IX need to be adjusted?

“I think it does. I’m not a law expert, but I’ve read quite a bit on the topic and for the most part the policies (are) implemented under the assumption that men and women, in general, have equal interest and our research shows that’s not true,” Deaner said.

Deaner said the study was not done to undercut women or their rightful place in sport in anyway.

“I want to make it clear that the study is not claiming that there aren’t any women who are deeply interested and really proficient at sport – of course there are and the idea is not to demean them or take away their opportunities,” Deaner said.

GVSU has built a reputation on hosting one of the most well-accomplished and equitable athletic programs in the country. Most agree that there’s a clear balance in resources allocated to each gender and that both sexes train and prepare to equal extents.

“In both men’s and women’s sports, you see individuals that are just more competitive than the rest of them and I don’t think there’s any difference there,” said GVSU athletic director Tim Selgo. “I think there are more similarities than differences.”

Some, like Jerry Baltes, head coach of both the men’s and women’s track and field and cross-country at GVSU, were even optimistic for further growth.

“As we’ve seen since the seventies, the gap has come much closer together,” Baltes said. “It’s probably not going to be as a great a rate over the next 10 years, 20 years, but I would think it would continue to inch closer as more woman have participated and do encourage their children and grandchildren to partake.”

Whether or not a plateau in sports gender equity has been reached remains to be seen. Is it evolution or social norms that have a greater impact?

GVSU currently is able to fund scholarships to the fullest extent allowed by the NCAA for all of its women’s programs, but cannot do the same for men outside of football and basketball, although men try-out and walk-on in more frequency.

“In a context of intercollegiate varsity sports, we at Grand Valley have 11 women varsity sports and nine men’s,” Selgo said. “That’s a reflection of 60 percent of our student body is female. That is something that I think Grand Valley has always taken pride in, that we’ve sponsored a number of sports for our women that are reflective of the student body, interests and abilities.”

To read the original post “GVSU study reveals men and women still aren’t equal” click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

January 23, 2013 at 6:34 am

GVSU track and field ready to take on Division I opponents

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GVL / Robert MathewsSenior Amy Reynolds

GVL / Robert Mathews
Senior Amy Reynolds

By Pete Barrows
GVL Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University indoor track and field program is one of the top programs in the country and they have the hardware to prove it. This Saturday, they’ll put their reputation to the test for the first time officially in 2013 when they welcome competition from around the state.

The Kelly Family Sports Center will once again play host and the Lakers will compete against Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University, and Hillsdale College in the GVSUQuad, then will be followed by a dual-meet between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University in the Kelly Center.

“It’s a really exciting weekend for track and field in Michigan,” said former GVSU All-American and current assistant coach Nick Polk. “We have six of the top teams in Michigan. We get to see competition between Division I and Division II and host a meet that’s very unlike any meet we’ve ever seen before in our facility with Michigan and Michigan State.”

With four warm-up meets already under their belt this season, GVSU indoor track is already ahead of the curve. The men’s team jumped rankings from 16th to fifth, and the women remain at No. 1 after impressive performances in the Mike Lints Alumni Open.

“Especially on the guys side, this has been the best start we’ve had in quite some time,” said track and field head coach Jerry Baltes. “We’ve had a lot of young kids step in.

Ahead of schedule, this year’s team will be tossed into scored completion earlier than ever.

“Normally at this point in the season, we’re not talking about winning meets,” Polk said. “We’re talking about trying to run qualifying times to make it to the NCAA’S. For the first time this early in the season we’re talking about coming together as a team to try to win a meet, which isn’t normally the case. This is going to be great prep for conference and nationals for us.”

The competition will be impressive all day, but the Lakers remain determined.

“All three programs are great programs with great competition and athletes,” Baltes said. “We’re definitely hyped up and excited to compete, and unlike the last four meets we’ve posted, there’s going to be a winner and loser at the end of the day from a team perspective and we definitely want to win the darn thing.”

Junior Logan Hoffman is also ready to start chasing down a few goals this weekend.

“As a team, we had a little goal setting session and we decided that we kind of want to put aside places at nationals right now and get as many guys as we can to the national meet,” Hoffman said. “Buy as many plane tickets as we can. Take it step-by-step, we just want to get there first.”

As a division II program, GVSU would be out of their league in many other sports – not track and field.

“One of our goals is to be able to compete at the highest level regardless of division,” Polk said. “We recruit a lot against those schools. We are pulling for the same type of athletes, same kids, so we should be able to compete with them.”

Junior hurdler Kalena Franklin is optimistic about her team’s chances.

“We’re going against two schools that are Division I, hoping to crush them,” Franklin said. “To be honest, we just hope to murder them in all areas. Our girls are ready.”

Admission is free to all students and $7 at the door for all other admissions. The quad meet will begin at 1 p.m.

“We’ll be bringing in a lot of people to the university and to the campus that haven’t probably been here,” Polk said. “The best thing would be to have a lot of campus support for this.

One way to consider it is if our football team were playing those teams. It’d be a big deal, so hopefully we get the same love.”

To read the original post “GVSU track and field ready to take on Division I opponents” click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

January 23, 2013 at 5:55 am

Track and Field return home for annual GVSU Mike Lints Open

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By Pete Barrows

GVL Staff Writer 

GVL / Robert Mathews Freshman Carson Jones

GVL / Robert Mathews Freshman Carson Jones

In a sport where every fraction of a second matters, it was the years that mattered in Friday night’s Mike Lints Alumni Open.

It was the 12th annual hosting of the event named in honor of the former Grand Valley State University student athlete and coach who was lost tragically in a car accident in October of 2001. Between 60 and 70 former Grand Valley State track and field athletes returned for the festivities.

“It’s important to me and it’s important to our alums that come back and celebrate Mike’s life and our program’s history,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “None of these guys knew Coach Lints, but it’s a way to honor him.

“He gave a lot to the university and our program as a student, as an athlete, and as a coach. It’s an important night for me and it’s a special night for us.”

Fifteen schools were in attendance including local schools Aquinas College, Calvin College, Cornerstone College and Hope College. With close to 800 athletes competing, the meet was one of the largest the Kelly Family Sports Center will host all year.

Friday’s meet was the fourth non-scored home meet of the season for the Lakers. The 2013 season is only in its warm-up stages, but so far the prognosis is strong. Sixteen NCAA Division II provisional qualifying marks were hit on Jan. 18, including five event victories.

“I thought it was a great second meet of 2013,” Baltes said. “I think we had some bright spots across the board and kids stepped up and got to keep moving forward. Our vaulters are vaulting very, very well right now and our throwers continue to throw well.”

Returning alumni agreed with the assessment.

“This team is hitting marks that we’ve never seen before,” said 2012 graduate Jovon Faulk. “They’re hitting them (now) where they should be at later in the season.”

Fellow graduate of the program Xavier Parnell has noticed the growth as well.

“They’ve really progressed since we left, bright future ahead of them,” he said.

The Lakers will get their season well into gear on Jan. 26 at 1 p.m., in what is sure to be a huge day in track and field in West Michigan. The seconds will officially count for the first time this season asGVSU hosts Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University and Hillsdale College for theGVSU Quad Meet. The University of Michigan and Michigan State University will follow up the act at 6 p.m. with a dual meet held on the same Kelly Family Sport Center accommodations.

“I think our atmosphere’s good, our team energy (is good) so that’s the biggest thing early in the year,” Baltes said. “As long we keep the focus and the mindset and keep working hard, we’re going to do big things over the course of the year.”

Taking advantage of their years, returning alumni like Faulk and Parnell have also helped to provide motivation for the season ahead.

“We trying to just keep their (current GVSU track athletes) minds strong, that’s one thing,” Faulk said. “When people start second guessing themselves, they seem to mess up. You can’t over-think anything. You have to keep going forward, never backwards. Just run.”

To read the original post “Track and Field return home for annual GVSU Mike Lints Open” click here at the Lanthorn online.

Written by peterdbarrows

January 20, 2013 at 5:05 am