NMU competes at St. Scholastica in preparation for GLIAC indoor meet


Leslie Luehmann and Natalie Bertucci performed well for the Wildcats, as the NMU track team got one last chance to compete before the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Indoor Championships.

The NMU women’s track team competed in the Lake Superior Challenge, an unscored meet, at St. Scholastica College on Saturday, Feb. 16 in Duluth, Minn.

“It went really well. It was a big meet so there was a lot of competition, a lot of different competition, too,” NMU head coach Tom Barnes said. “We’re getting ready for the GLIAC, so we didn’t expect to get our best times this weekend, but we did get really good times and we’re going to work hard this week and rest up next week to be ready.”

The ‘Cats were led in the meet by juniors Bertucci and Luehmann. Luehmann placed first in the long jump and third in the 55-meter hurdles. Bertucci won the 55-meter hurdles and finished third in the high jump.

This is the first meet this season where Bertucci did not break or tie an NMU record in the 55-meter hurdles.

Also finishing in the top three for the Wildcats were senior Danielle St. Onge, who finished third in the 55-meter dash, senior Kaylee Laakso (second in the 200-meter dash) and freshman Michele Bisig (second in the 5,000-meter run).

The Wildcats will be off this weekend as they look to get rested for the GLIAC Indoor Championships March 1-2. The team will be trying to improve on last season’s seventh place overall finish in the GLIAC indoor competition.

“I think, realistically, we can get fifth or sixth place. We have a really good conference, which is great; there are a lot of teams (in the GLIAC) ranked in the top 25 right now,” Barnes said. “If we are able to get a fifth or sixth, we will have beaten one or two of the top 25 teams.”

GLIAC teams ranked in the top 25 of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association include Ashland (No.1), Grand Valley (No. 2), Hillsdale (No. 3), Findlay (No. 4), Ferris State (No. 21) and Saginaw Valley (no. 23). The six teams that are currently ranked in the nation are the teams which finished ahead of the ‘Cats in last season’s conference meet.

Barnes said he expects several NMU athletes to place in the conference meet. Luehmann is ranked second in the triple jump, fourth in the long jump, and fifth in the high jump in the current GLIAC top performance sheet, a list of the conference’s top performers; Bertucci is ranked sixth in the 55-meter hurdles. Many Northern athletes are ranked just outside of the top eight on the performance sheet. The top eight finishers in the GLIAC meet place and score team points.

“Just to place in our conference in the top eight is going to be an accomplishment; it truly is the best (division-II) conference in the country,” Barnes said.

This meet will be the first scored meet for the ‘Cats this season. Barnes said the team has matched up well against the GLIAC teams they faced in non-scored competitions so far this season.

The conference meet takes place Feb. 29-March 1 at Findlay University in Findlay, Ohio.

“I guess we are about ready to go,” Barnes said. “It’s always exciting to compete in a conference meet, so we’re real anxious to get out there and see what we can do.

“This is what we’ve worked for during the whole indoor season,” he added.