Ferris heads into the GLIAC Championship at Grand Valley State on the heels of a successful Tune-Up meet.
Hopes are high as many runners competed well in their events; Ferris sophomore sprinter Shea VanKlompenberg won the women’s 400 meter, and senior mid-distance runner Ryan Chute claimed fourth in the 3,000 meter run, to name only a couple top finishes.
Junior thower Jessica Pilling took first in shotput and fourth in the weight throw. Freshman thower Alison Busick also placed in the top 10 in both throwing events, while taking sixth in shotput and ninth in the weight throw.
On the men’s side, Ferris senior thrower JJ Vandenburg placed eighth in shotput and 10th in the weight throw. Ferris sophomore thrower Sam Goode followed Vandenburg’s placing in shotput with a 10th -place finish of his own, while taking 16th in the weight throw at the Tune-Up meet.
With the championships looming, runners and throwers alike are prepared to battle for the top spot in the conference, as individuals and as a team that will face the bigger programs of the GLIAC like GVSU and Ashland.
“I think we are very competitive with the bigger teams,” Ferris senior distance runner Anna Rudd said. “The team has run really well up to this point, and everyone has been very focused, and the results have shown on the track.”
Rudd won the mile run at the Tune-Up meet, with a national provisional qualification time of 4:53.67, whilst also placing eighth in the 800 meter. She looks to help lead the women’s team in the championships.
The Bulldogs have standouts on the men’s side that will compete for the number one spot in the GLIAC as Chute and junior mid-distance runner Connor LaRowe look to lead the pack in the mid-distance runs.
“The team has really improved over prior years, and I think we will do well next week at conferences,” Chute said. “This is the best track season we have ever had as a group in my opinion.”
As a senior, Chute has helped lead the Bulldogs to where they are now. He flew past opponents’ times with a 4:08.25 mile and an 8:24.66 in the 3,000 meter.
Ferris will lean on the experience and coaching of fourth-year head coach Steve Picucci to give the Bulldogs a chance at winning their first conference championship in 22 years for the men’s program and 19 years in Ferris women’s history.
“Steve is one of the best coaches in the nation and has given us the confidence to perform well,” LaRowe said. “He’s making us more fit than we have ever been, and he is getting some of us to perform at a national caliber level for the first time.”
Ferris seeks its fourth men’s and fifth women’s GLIAC title this year, dating back 27 years in the program’s past.
LaRowe, Chute, Rudd and others will run for the number one spot in their respected events, and hopefully a chance at a GLIAC team title.
The GLIAC Championships will be held Saturday, Feb. 23 in Allendale at Grand Valley’s Kelly Family Sports Center.