May 26, 2012
PUEBLO, Colo. - The Grand Valley State women's track and field team entered the 2012 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field National Championship as the top-ranked team in the country and they are leaving the same way, successfully defending their outdoor crown at the Neta and Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl on Saturday (May 26). It's the second straight outdoor title for GVSU and the fourth straight track national championship overall (2011 indoor, 2011 outdoor, 2012 indoor).
GVSU won with 90 points, 11 better than Lincoln (Mo.), who finished as the runners-up with 79. Adams State finished third with 59, while Central Missouri (56.5) and Grand Canyon (41) rounded out the top five. Western State was sixth with 33, New Mexico Highlands finished seventh with 31 and GLIAC-rival Ashland paired with Abilene Christian to finish in a tie for eighth with 25. Mary rounded out the top 10 with 24 team points.
GVSU led from wire-to-wire, beginning with Liz Murphy's (Washington, Mich./Romeo) title in the women's hammer throw on day one and it ends with the Lakers scoring 90 team points, the most any women's team has scored in the championships since 2006.
After the Lakers won two individual national titles on each of the first two days, they weren't able to replicate that task on the final day, but still got multiple All-American performances.
In the shot put, the Lakers finished second and third to earn 14 big points in the team standings. Junior Sam Lockhart (Lansing, Mich./Sexton) placed second with a toss of 15.88 meters (52'1.25"), a new GVSU school record, while senior Lauren Buresh (Stanwood, Mich./Morley-Stanwood) finished third in her attempt to defend her shot put national title. Buresh had a throw of 15.53 meters (50'11.5").
Buresh had won the last three shot put national championships (2011 indoor, 2011 outdoor, 2012 indoor) and finishes her career with her fifth All-American honor.
Freshman Brittney Banister (Flint, Mich./Carman-Ainsworth), who came in to the national championships with the 22nd-best 100 meter time in Division II, capped her spectacular rookie season with a fourth-place finish in the 100 meter finals, crossing the line in 11.60 seconds. Banister was the only freshman in the 100 meter final.
In the 800 meter run, senior Chanelle Caldwell (Toledo, Ohio/Indiana Tech) came home eighth with a time of 2:17.89, her mind-boggling 13th All-American honor of her career and the sixth time she has been in the top eight of the 800 meter event.
Seniors Rachel Patterson (Rochester, Mich./Miami (Ohio)) and Betsy Graney (Harper Woods, Mich./William and Mary), who both won individual national titles at this year's championships, earned their second All-American honors of the weekend as they both placed in the top eight of the 5,000 meter run.
Patterson finished third with a time of 17:48.86, just two seconds behind the leader. Graney came home in sixth with a time of 17:57.10 as the Lakers collected nine team points from the event.
Finally, in the 4x400 meter relay, GVSU finished fourth with a time of 3:43.18. The relay was put together by Caldwell, senior Adrienne Chandler (Okemos, Mich.), junior Leiah Hess (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview) and sophomore Kalena Franklin (West Branch, Mich./Ogemaw Heights) as they all earn All-American honors, including Caldwell's 14th of her career.
Sophomore Kristen Hixson (Remus, Mich./Chippewa Hills), who won the pole vault on Friday (May 25), broke an NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championship record with her vault of 4.15 meters (13'7.25").
"This was a great accomplishent for our lady Lakers," said head coach and reigning national coach of the year Jerry Baltes. "It was a total team effort from start to finish. I am proud and thankful for everyone that has helped us get to this point."
The Lakers sent 17 female student-athletes to the 2012 championship and 12 of them are coming home with at least one All-American honor from the meet.