GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championship
Written by Luke Daigneault
At the GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 1st and 2nd (hosted in our very own Margot V. Bierman Center), the Charger distance and middle-distance runners showed great dominance among some of the top athletes in the country. All four titles won over the course of the two day meet were in the range of 800 to 5000 meters, and each was in dramatic fashion.
Nearing the end of the first day, it came time for the second-to-last event, the 5000 meter run. Returning champion, Josh Mirth, was in the race, but it would be a much harder fought battle to the podium than it was last year. The starter pulled the trigger, and they were off. Mirth led for the first 800 and then let some competitors from Grand Valley take over the lead for a while. One by one, the runners fell off the pace until there were only three left. With a kilometer to go, Mirth jumped to the lead daring Peterson and Bradley of Grand Valley to go with him. Fatigue was setting in, but he never gave up the lead. At the bell lap, those three were all still in contention for the gold medal. Blazing around the first curve, blue led black. The crowd began to roar as they knew this would be a tight finish. On the last curve of the last lap, Bradley made a move to pass on the outside. He gained the lead, but the extra energy he used to pass on the turn cost him in the final 60 meters when the bearded Charger, Joshua Mirth, mustered his last ounces of strength to edge him just before the line, winning the race by a mere twenty-two hundredths of a second. Those twenty-two hundredths promoted Mirth to the status of repeat champion.
Immediately following this race, the Charger women toed the line for the 4000 meter Distance Medley Relay which consists of a 1200m leg followed by a 400, 800, and finally a 1600 (mile) for the final leg. Emily Oren took things out strong in the 1200, relaxing at first, but putting the Chargers in a strong lead over the last two laps. Then it was freshman Jessica Hurley’s turn to take the baton. The other teams fought to catch her, but Hurley never relinquished the lead during her two lap leg. Now, it was Amy Kerst’s turn. The 800 meter specialist was in her element when she took the handoff. The Ferris and Grand Valley runners made up some ground briefly, but they were not ready for her blistering finishing speed as she rushed to get the baton to the final runner, Kristina Galat. Galat got out well, but Jessica Janecke of Grand Valley and Anna Rudd of Ferris caught up to her. This played to Galat’s advantage, however, as she was able to draft off of these lead runners over the long 1600 meter leg. The determined Charger hung on until the last possible moment when, rounding the last curve, she put on a sudden burst of speed leaving GVSU and Ferris in the dust and finishing with a new Bierman track record of 11:47.50—number 2 in the NCAA. This team has a serious chance at winning a national title next week.
Sunday was equally exciting. In the women’s mile, Sophomore Emily Oren, who led off the Distance Medley Relay the night before, waited until there were three laps to go in the race before taking the lead. She strung out the pack with her surge and then nailed the coffin of her competitors shut with a final burst of speed in the last 150 meters. She’ll be looking to mix it up with the top women in the country next week at the NCAA championships in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
In the women’s 800, another member of the Distance Medley Relay, Amy Kerst, pulled a classic sit-and-kick dropping the hammer on Lisa Galasso of Grand Valley in the final 200 meters of the race. She finished comfortably under the Bierman track record with a time of 2:13.31.
Distance coaches R.P. White and Samantha Kearney were all smiles following a very successful weekend.
Luke Daigneault is currently a freshman at Hillsdale College, majoring in Economics and minoring in Philosophy. Luke runs for the cross-country and track teams and is involved in the Fairfield-Gadfly Group on campus.