The NMU track and field team broke three school records and finished in seventh place at the 2008 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Indoor Track and Field Championships, February 29-March 1.
Northern scored 37.50 points in the two-day event. The Wildcats were six points out of sixth place, as Saginaw Valley State had 43.50 points. SVSU is ranked No. 24 in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national rankings. Grand Valley State won with 188.50 points.
“I’m real happy with the result,” NMU head coach Tom Barnes said. “This was the most points we’ve ever scored in the indoor championships, and I think we have a chance to improve before the outdoor conference meet.”
All six of the teams who finished ahead of the Wildcats were ranked in the top 25 in the national coaches poll.
“We have the toughest conference in the nation,” Barnes said. “We love the tough competition, but to even get seventh is an accomplishment.”
NMU and SVSU finished the first day of the competition tied for sixth place with ten points each, but Saginaw Valley State pulled away from the ‘Cats in the second day of competition.
“We showed a lot of determination,” Barnes said. “I thought we had a real great effort last weekend and we came through in the competition.”
The Wildcats were led by senior Danielle St. Onge, who placed second in the triple jump with a distance of 35-07.75. Teammate Leslie Luehmann, a junior on the team, finished in third, an inch behind St. Onge. The pair’s jumps scored 14 points for the team. Leuhmann also placed fifth in the long jump.
The fourth-place finish by the Wildcats in the distance medley relay was the highest-placed relay team for the ‘Cats. The team composed of sophomore Erin VanEnkevort, sophomore Maegan Hendershot, sophomore Bibiane Mahy and senior Danielle Stein ran a 12:37.81 in the event.
Senior Kaylee Laakso set a new NMU record as she placed fifth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 58.84. Sophomore Angie Leckson set a school record in the shotput as she transitioned from the women’s basketball team to the track team and placed seventh in the shotput with a new NMU record throw of 41-01.75.
“It was great to get the record as a senior,” Laakso said. “There was a lot of incentive to get the record now, and I really worked for it.”
Junior Natalie Bertucci tied her previous school record in the 55-meter hurdles as she finished fifth with a time of 8.52. Sophomore Karin Diebold was the other record setter for the ‘Cats in the meet, with a vault of 10-01.5
Also placing for Northern was the 4×400-meter relay team of freshman Brittnee Balbierz, Laakso, freshman Jessica Trotochaud and VanEnkevort who ran a 4:11.25 enroute to a seventh place finish. Freshman Michele Bisig was eighth with a time of 18:52.21 in the 5,000 -meter run.
With the outdoor season wrapped up, the Wildcats have a month to train before beginning the outdoor season at the Bulldog Invitational at Ferris State.
“We’ve been training real hard and conference was a little break from that,” Laakso said. “Now we have to get back to working hard every day and getting ready for outdoor (season).”
Barnes added that he thinks the team will be looking at a high finish at the GLIAC outdoor championships in April.
“We have a couple of distance runners who are going to keep improving as the season goes on, and a couple of freshmen who are going to keep getting stronger with experience,” Barnes said. “This team has real potential to do great at the end of the season.”