Adrian, MI – The Grace Christian University track & field teams took on big competition and high temperatures Friday at Siena Heights University for the “Don Kleinow Invitational” and saw exciting results. In a field that featured 24 other teams, the Tigers showed grit and competitiveness during a marathon of a meet that lasted almost 12 hours long.
In the end, two school records were smashed by Makensie Mondy in the 100m dash and Jada Reese in shot put and sophomore Ben Bird made history becoming the first male athlete from Grace to compete in the steeplechase event.
“It really was an amazing weekend for our program,” stated Grace head coach Gerry Verwey after the meet. “Between the amazing day we had here at Siena Heights with a bunch of new personal bests, some new school records, and an obvious willingness to compete and beat the bigger schools, combined with Kent Herring competing at Indiana State University in the decathlon at the same time, I just could never imagine us doing all this when we started this team from scratch a few years ago.”
Verwey added, “It was a busy day for sure with multiple events occurring and even me video chatting with Kent down in Indiana to help him decide on his approach for pole vault, but there are so many memories from this weekend that will keep me smiling for a while. We still have a ton of work to do though to clean up some technique and mental focus but we’re getting there.”
Freshman Makensie Mondy (Kentwood, MI) broke the 100m dash record in a time of 13.49 seconds. The previous record had been set by Lydia Peters in 2019. Mondy also walked off the track with a new personal record in the 200m dash, finishing second in her race, with a time of 28.16 seconds.
Senior Jada Reese (Macomb, MI) smashed the women’s shot put record with a huge throw of 9.51m. The previous record, held by Chenice Peterson, had stood since 2017.
Senior Lucy Nusbaum (Holland, MI) continued her strong performances in the 400m dash, finishing in a time of 1:09.44.
Senior Zyan Tatum (Grand Rapids, MI) found new season best times in both the 100m and 200m dashes, finishing third in her 200m heat along the way.
The 400m relay team of Tatum, Mondy, Nusbaum, and Reese also set a new season best time of 56.29 seconds.
Sophomore Ben Bird (Allendale, MI) made school history as the first ever male competitor for Grace in the 3k steeplechase competition. Last year, Tiger Cassidy Olsen became the first female competitor in the event. The 3,000m steeplechase race consists of five barriers spaced throughout the track, with one having a water pit behind it, that racers must negotiate over through the laps of the race. Bird finished with a time of 12:48.58.
Freshman Devin Bartee (Muskegon, MI) had a big day in both long jump and the 100m dash. Bartee ran a new personal best in the 100m of 12.34 seconds and demolished his previous best distance in long jump with a leap of 5.48m.
Junior Angel Becerra (Allendale, MI) threw his second best effort this season in javelin and ran an impressive 200m race under the lights at the end of the meet, finishing in 29.95 seconds. Becerra and Reese (for the women) were scheduled to compete in discus, as well, but the event was canceled due to darkness.
If you have been wanting to watch your Tigers in action, your best opportunities are this week and next as the track & field squads are competing in the Grand Rapids area both weekends. This week, Friday and Saturday, the Tigers will be at Grand Valley State University for the “Al Owens Classic” with the javelin competition occurring on Friday (4/21) at noon and the rest of the events on Saturday (4/22) beginning at 11 AM.
The following weekend at Davenport University, javelin (2 PM), the 10K race (6 PM) will occur on Friday (4/28) with the remainder of events kicking off on Saturday (4/29) with field events at 11 AM and running events at 1 PM.
These are the final two meets of the season for the Tiger prior to the NCCAA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships in Columbia, South Carolina on May 10-12th.