Panthers hope to continue success at GVSU

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

The Eastern men and women’s track and field teams return to action at Grand Valley State (Michigan) Friday for a one-day meet.

The Panthers are coming off of a successful weekend at the Notre Dame Meyo invitational in South Bend, Ind. where they earned seven Top-15 performances the first day and six Top-20 performances the second day.

Coach Tom Akers thought his team competed well last weekend and the week before at Indiana, despite facing opponents they were unfamiliar with.

“I thought we really competed at Notre Dame,” he said. “Over at Indiana, I thought we just outran or jumped well, especially since we never really competed against our competition. That is generally when your best performances comes, when you just go out and compete.”

Both the men and women’s distance medley relay teams had Top-15 finishes last weekend, while junior Paxson Menard set a new personal record of 14:39.63 in the 5,000-meter run. Menard’s time was also the best finish by an Ohio Valley Conference runner in that event this season.

Sophomore Maria Baldwin also set a new personal record of 17:17.35 in the women’s 5,000-meter run. Teammate Rachel Garippo earned her way to sixth all-time in the Eastern record books with her time 17:28.41 in the 5,000-meter run.

Akers is looking for more strong performances like these as the OVC championships on February 26 and 27 continue to near.

“Hopefully we can keep that same mindset going into this weekend and continue to build on that over the next couple weeks heading into the conference championships,” Akers said.

At this point in the season last year, Eastern was in the same position as they are now, coming off of a performance at Notre Dame heading into the GVSU Big Meet.

“Last year we had some really good performances up there coming off of a good performance at Notre Dame,” he said. “Hopefully it will be the same this year. We had some really good performances this past weekend so hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.”

Even though the meet is scheduled for both Friday and Saturday, Eastern will only be competing Friday. The one-day meet is still considered a full meet with all events covered, so Eastern will be taking the whole team to Allendale, Mich.

Akers said that a one-day meet has a couple of advantages over a two-day meet, namely an extra day of rest.

“It gives you the rest of the weekend off so that’s good,” he said. “It saves budget money, so you’re not spending too many nights up there, so those are the big advantages.”

The track events are set to begin at 9 a.m. Friday with the field events beginning at 11:30 a.m.


Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]