GVSSR – 06/10/19 – Full Episode *Season Wrap*

Welcome back to the newest addition to
the Grand Valley State Sports report on WGVU.
I’m your host Jake Levy, this is our last episode of another incredible year as
GVSU athletics continues to dominate in Division two. GVSU sent many of its
teams across the country to compete for national titles and today we’re going to
recap them for you GVSU softball traveled out to Denver,
Colorado to compete in the Division two World Series.
Head coach Dana Callahan and senior Kayleigh Rynard will join us in studio to
talk about the team’s Final Four finish. Also joining us in studio later on today
to talk about GVSU postseason performances will be GVSU athletic
director Kari Becker. GVSU track and field was down in Kingsville, Texas to
compete in the outdoor track and field national championships. We’ll hear from
head coach Terry Baltus and a few student-athletes on their team
performances. We’ll also recap for you both the men’s and women’s golf teams
and the women’s tennis teams postseasons. In today’s show lock it in Laker nation
as the Grand Valley State Sports report starts, for a final time, right now. The Grand Valley State women’s golf team
saw their 2018-19 season come to a close with a 14th place finish at the NCAA
Division two national championship tournament.
The Lakers carted a final round 338 on the last day of stroke play. Finishing
the tournament with a 94 over 970. This was the Lakers 12th straight appearance
at the national tournament and their seventeenth in the last 18 years. Junior,
Katie Chipman earned a tied for 12th place in the 95 player field after she
carted rounds of 76, 74 and 79 to finish with a 10 / 229. Senior Mackenzie
Blomberg capped her Laker career with a tie for 47th place at the national
tournament after she finished with a 242. Junior Morgan Jackie-Wolfe and freshman
Aaron Johnson were separated by just one stroke as they finished tied for 72nd
and 74th respectively. Jackie-Wolfe finished 32 / while Johnson finished
with a 33 /. Rounding out the Lakers was Ginger Maria Solpose who finished
with a 36 / 255 with a final record of 51 and 10 in a
final for finish in the division 2 world series. To say the GVSU softball team had
a good season would be an understatement. The 51 wins is good for the second most
in program history while the World Series appearance is just the team’s
fourth. Joining us now in studio to talk about the season is head coach Dana
Callahan and senior student-athlete Kayleigh Reinard and coach we’ll talk
with you, I just said all the big things you guys did this year now that you’ve
had about a week to kind of reflect what does this season mean to you? Oh it’s
just one of those unforgettable seasons you know we had such a good group of
players and and great parents, great support from fans and administration and
everybody that followed us. It’s just one of those things that you’re gonna
remember for the rest of your life Kaylee especially the last two years
you’ve really seen this program take off back to that prominence that it’s had in
its history. What did this season mean to you and their senior class? Um just to go
out on such a high note was really awesome.
The team chemistry was great, really more than we could have asked for. It stunk to
see it you know not end you know how we wanted to but at the end of the day one team
gets to go out on their own terms and to make it that far
was definitely a accomplishment. Coach, kind of a heartbreaking loss in that
opener of the College World Series but to see your team rebound the way they
didn’t win those next few games that said a lot about this team how far they came. Oh
absolutely. They you know we’ve had our backs against the walls several times
throughout the seasons with injuries and illnesses and and just being down and
stuff and and they’ve always bounced back and they had their goal in mind and
they went after it so it’s just that it shows a character of this team and what
kind of culture that we had all year. Now Kaylee I know you also ran cross country
for a couple of years you played two very different positions going from
center field to catcher. Can you kind of take us through? What it’s like
between games because I know especially here where the catcher is
calling their own games you go from kind of that reactionary center field
position to now running the show behind the plate. What was that transition like
for you between games? I mean I think I’d adjusted well growing up I was always a
catcher and calling games was something I really enjoyed and so that was, you
know the normal for me, but centerfield was a bit of an adjustment. But after
playing there a few years I I loved it and just you know being wherever the
team needed me to be and that was kind of the attitude that every player on our
team had and yeah I just enjoyed being out there and yeah. It took a
little while in the beginning of the season, I’ll ask both of you to kind of
reflect on this to find that groove of the lineup, but it seemed like about
midway through the year all of a sudden everything was clicking on all cylinders
and this offense really took off for you to be a part of that, how cool was that offense this year? It was awesome and the strongest I’ve ever been a part of. Just
1 through 9 everyone would have hit the ball and you never felt like there was a
spot in the lineup like oh you know we’re not gonna be able to produce
because at any moment anyone was going to be able to step up so yeah. And it
took a little bit of time but I think that’s normal and especially our goal
was to be playing our best at the end of the season so if it took time to kind of
figure that out we were ok with that as long as we got there. And coach you were
talking about this whole year about you were winning while still figuring
things out and then it kind of all came together for it. Yeah you know I mean you
have several freshmen on the field and you never know how they’re gonna respond
and so you know you’re trying to find their comfort zone, you’re trying to find
the comfortable spot in the lineup that hitters feel their best their most
confident and you know it took us a little while with experimentation and I
think we got there and we were finally firing on all cylinders.
But yeah the freshmen you know you never know how they’re gonna respond to the
the next level so to speak and they responded more than we could have
anticipated and that put together a really nice lineup. Kaylee there’s a lot
of freshmen sophomores in this lineup for you being one of those seniors to
lead this group how was the interaction between senior class and from those
younger players coming up? I think just trying to really get them to be
confident in their ability because they are so talented and I don’t even think
they realize how talented they were and so to just say that you’ve been playing
this game your whole life it’s not any different.
A little faster pace, a little more talent, but they’re right there and they
were, they were ready to play so just trying to get them to go up there, be
confident and do their thing you know. Every year you guys start the season in
Florida and on the road and Luis in that dome but to end it to go to Colorado to
go to that college role series as you said it didn’t quite end the way you
want but how was that experience for you and the student-athletes? It’s just, it’s
awesome and every team wants to get to that point and there are a lot of teams
that, that don’t and so for me and the other seniors to get that experience
twice and to go there to compete at such a high level and be right there with
those teams, just awesome the memories. The experience just more than, more than
we could have asked for and obviously the injury to Hanna earlier in the year
kind of put a lot of pressure on Alison in this College World Series. Coach she
was fantastic this postseason. Oh she was absolutely. She, she knew that
she was the one we were gonna give the ball to and she took it and she ran with
it and and it was just one of those things we just didn’t catch a break
every now and then when we needed to score the runs that we needed to support
that, but the defense played fantastic. I don’t think we had an error in the four
games out there so you know we were right with every team out there it was
just like I said we didn’t catch that break when we needed it and, but we
played as well as we could play and they left it all on the field and I couldn’t
be more proud of them. Every game was close and to see how
tight it was throughout those games that was really an elite competition for you
guys, do you guys get the feeling obviously at the College World Series
everything is up a level but you guys get the feeling we’re playing the best
in the nation right now? Yeah I mean I think and every team to get to that
point you, you have to be playing your best softball. And so for us to be right
there with them it really says something about our program. And yeah at the end of
the day you know one hit one play can change the outcome of game and so it’s,
it’s tough when you don’t get those breaks, but at the same time just awesome
to be playing that competitive of softball. Since you’ve had a week now to
kind of look back, how do you remember your softball career at Grand Valley State? Just the people and Grand Valley as a whole I’m so glad I ended up here and met the
friends that I have. The coaching staff and the people just proud to be a Laker
I wouldn’t change a thing looking back. And coach to reflect on this senior
class as Allison just got drafted to play in a pro softball league
what does this senior class mean to this program? Oh they, they were the
glue. They led this team in ways that, that myself and the coaching staff
couldn’t do that and you know like she said just bringing the freshmen and
getting them introduced to our culture and, and given them the confidence that
they needed to actually create this team and this senior class is going to be one
we miss. It was the first class that I recruited. Kaylee was recruited prior to
me as a head coach but the other three. So I’m very proud of this group and
we’re gonna miss them but the legacy that they’ve left behind to the, the
younger players I think is gonna carry on. And then obviously you had the knee
injury which is never a good thing but to come back the way you did and to have
those last two years there has to be something so special you’ll take with you forever? Yes, tearing my ACL I always say it was the the worst and the best thing that
happened to me. It gave me this last season and going out on such a high note
learn about a lot about myself about the game and yeah just coming back stronger
having two, two more seasons it’s great. And coach now as you turn your
attention to next season what can we look forward to coming to the fall next
year? Get ready for another great season. You know we’ve got six freshmen coming
in, that are planning to come in and you know we’re just got to kind of figure
that out. Again we’ve got some holes that we’re gonna have to fill with Shannon
and Kaylee and Allison, Rachel leaving and so we’ll have some experimentation
in the fall but we’ve got some talented players and we’re looking forward to
getting them on board. Well it was a great season in 2019, congratulations to both
of you, thank you. Stay tuned as we recap more Laker postseason action on
the Grand Valley State sports report. The Grand Valley State men’s golf team
completed the season at the NCAA Division two national championships in
Daniels, West Virginia with an 11th place finish shooting a 54 hole score of 881.
Making its first appearance at the NCAA Championship since 2008 the 11th place
finish equaled the 2000 squad as the program’s best finish of the NCAA
Championships. Senior all-american Alex Scott who is playing his final event for
the Lakers turned at a final round 74 and finished tied for 6th overall with a
213. Scott finished seventh a year ago playing as an individual his second
round score of 65 was the low round of stroke-play among all competitors
through 54 holes. Senior Mitchell White shot a final round 74 and finished 21st
overall with a 217 while fellow senior Bryce Messner closed with a 77 and
finished 57th with a score of 223 Sophomore Eric Nunn fired a final round
76 and finished 78th with a 54 hole score of 228 and junior Owen Rush shot a
243. The GVSU track and field teams competed
in the 2019 outdoor national championships in Kingsville, Texas in May.
The men’s team would finish fourth at the national championships on the backs
of some pretty incredible performances from Zach Panning as he dominated the
5,000 and 10,000 meter races. Panning was announced as the National Track and
Field outdoor athlete of the year after the meet. While the men’s team as a whole
would be crowned the program of the year across Division 2 track and field. GVSU would have three other all-americans on the men’s side as Jacob Batani, Dennis
Buda and Tanner Chadha would secure honors in their events. The Grand Valley
State women’s track and field team finished third after they scored 47 and
a half points during the event and all the Lakers had 13 athletes earned 18
all-america honors during the championships. The Laker women would
finish in second place for program of the year after a national championship
during the cross-country season. For a final time this year we caught up with
the head man himself Jerry Baltus along with some student athletes to give us a
rundown of the 2019 NCAA Championships. Wow usually as any track meets a bumpy
road or ups and downs and you know coming in we thought our ladies could
challenge for a podium spot and if everything went well maybe second
winning was probably gonna take incredible effort guys we thought you
know things are gonna have to go really really well to get a podium and over the
course of the three days I don’t think we had, we had a good meet, we didn’t have a great meet. We had a few people have great performances but whereas in
indoors when the ladies were second and the guys were fourth I felt like a lot
of things really fell in our place especially on the ladies side scoring 60
some points that we did inside, indoors so I thought we battled. I think that’s
the biggest thing we just kept competing you know we had a lot of things that
didn’t go our way. I mean ledges in I think fourth fourth place was 50 or 40 meters
ago and gets passed by to you know Hana or uh, Maddie’s got a shot to finish seventh
and gets leaned out so we had a lot of those things we had like four or five,
six people get 10th place so things weren’t totally going our way but we
just kept there, kept grinding and supporting each other and cheering each
other on and we had enough strong enough performances
for the ladies to be third and then the fourth and you know certainly helps to
have a Zach Panning in your back pocket and you know that was a magical weekend for
him and, and great to see. Couldn’t happen to a better person, better
teammate. Just, just top-notch individual he’s a good runner he’s a way better
person certainly Rachel and Zack are you know gonna be hard to replace and very
meaningful and important but all our seniors are you know you know Zach and
Rachel maybe a little bit more soaked as they score a few more points but there’s
people in our program that never score a point for our program that bring great
value to to our program and our team everyday and so we’re always gonna miss
our seniors but you know those two are it’s a pretty good they’re pretty good
so we’re gonna miss them you don’t replace those those shoes you know
hopefully you don’t replace them usually with one person usually it takes three
or four to start with so they’ve just been outstanding. Well just helps you get
more options than to get stuff done there’s more options for things not to
go your way but certainly you know more options for things to get done so and
certainly that 10k starting out with Gina finished in third and just as great
effort that was a huge lift for us and you know a jump start the four by one
making the final which they weren’t supposed to and then you know Lucy today
and the pole vault was just incredible every bar she cleared I was like man that
was an awesome a performance to sort of end her career and then she went out and
Benton cleared another bar so just outstanding for her you know and we had
it throughout you know and Rachel toes the line you know you’re gonna get a
great effort I was really hoping she could get a national championship title
for herself she’s so deserving she’s worked so hard
easiest person I’ve ever coached just does what you asked and you know you
want to see that person get that be, be on the top of the podium she certainly
deserves that she’s been just awesome for our program. My career has been
amazing I definitely you know dreamed of becoming an all-american didn’t think
it’d ever amount to anything then I ended up doing this is all I’ve
wanted coming into you know school at Grand Valley and I’m really proud of how
it all played out. The people I met, the people I got to run with, race against, I
couldn’t have asked for a better career. In the beginning wasn’t easy but I think
that my perseverance through everything that I went through in my life personal
life and through track was definitely kept me through things and I had a
fantastic four years and I would never take it back. Awesome career just so
thankful for ending up at Grand Valley and having the opportunity to be coached
by by such amazing people and having so many great opportunities to run fast and
just incredibly blessed with with the administration at Grand Valley. The
coaching staff, all my professors and just, just I can’t even put into words
how thankful I am for for everything that Jerry and Watson and and really
everyone at Grand Valley has done for me and I’m looking forward to moving on and
and, and continuing to run. But Grand Valley is always going to have a special
place in my heart. The Grand Valley State women’s tennis
teams season came to an end on May 22nd after they fell to Lin in the sweet 16
of the NCAA Division two Women’s Tennis Championships in Altamonte, Springs
Florida. The Lakers end their season with an
impressive 23 and 5 overall record GVSU fought hard and doubles, but Lin
scored the matches first points with winds from the number 1 and number 3
pairings Maria Liko and Madison Ballard dropped a tough decision from the number
one doubles while Livia Christman and Nicole Heiniger were defeated from the
number three doubles. Marilee Canellopoulos and Vera Griva played out of
the number two slot as their match went unfinished after they were down three to
two in singles. The Lakers were unable to find their groove as the Fighting Knight
scored three straight points to clinch the match. Ballard played from the number
two position and felt while Leko was defeated from the number three spot Lin
scored one more point on the afternoon after Canellopoulos stopped a decision
from the number four singles position. Grand Valley State ended 2018-19 season
with an overall record of 23 and 5 and seized five seniors student-athletes
graduate this year. The GVSU athletic program continues to
be a standard in Division two as they continue to increase their lead in the
director Cup standings. Joining us now to talk about the winter and spring sports
seasons as well as what lies ahead for the lakers athletics program is
director of athletics Kari Becker. And Kari first of all congratulations on a
fantastic 2018-19 season another director’s cup potentially another
Presidents Cup in the GLIAC. What does this year mean to you in this program? Well
you know I, I don’t want to say it’s just another year because we don’t take
anything for granted and it’s, it’s a great year that we celebrate every
single victory along the way celebrate all the accomplishments of our student
athletes and when you can in the end I have a great student athlete body that
has a great GPA, they’re graduating, they’re having a great student athlete
experience and oh by the way they’re winning and you’ve put it all together
and that just means we have the right people in the right spots. You look at
how great this program is and it’s sometimes very hard for people that work
in the department to think of how impressive this is year in and year out
because it kind of becomes the standard but it’s new to these new kids that come
in new coaches, new pieces all the time so it’s important to celebrate those
small victories along the way. You bet and, and then challenge, challenge
everybody to continue to evolve and stay ahead of the competition because don’t
think that they’re slowing down and so we have to sustaining success is far
different than that climb to the top in some ways it’s harder to maintain a
certain level of excellence but if again if you I mentioned if you have the right
people in the right spot they’re always gonna be striving to be better to change
to find the next best thing to make sure we stay on the cutting edge whether it’s
with skills and our sports and coaches whether it’s in the external side and
our social media our website and those types of things and we’re always
continuing to challenge our coaches to evolve with the changing needs of
today’s student athletes. We talked about the winter season we haven’t had you on since
the fall so you look back at that winter season in a microcosm. Six athletic
programs, six make a trip to the national tournament, how impressive is that? Well
that’s a fun winner. I always tell people don’t call me between mid-november and
end of December and then about all of March and hopefully I went from the road
trips were great, I went from the men’s women’s swimming and diving national
championships in Indianapolis our men’s basketball team had a great GLIAC
championship that thrust them into the NCAA regional tournament so I drove from
Indy to Lewis University up in Jolie, Illinois. Our women’s basketball won and
that they were staggered and they’re scheduled so it was perfectly scheduled
just for me to make it so my associate AD Erica Wallace and I got in the car
and drove from Joliet, Illinois to Drury which is in Springfield, Missouri and
then so that was a whirlwind of a week weekend. Yeah I think I was racing you
down there in the GV trucks we all found our way down there but it’s still
such an impressive winter you turn the page to spring down even more success to
talk about. You bet, not to, not mention indoor track and field what amazing win
or two so it was a busy March thank goodness I have some associate ease that
love to watch championship so fast-forward to the spring
yeah in April people don’t realize a spring, April to May is a busiest time of
year for Grand Valley athletics and and you know assuming that we continue to
win but even even without the championship season we have so many
sports going on so many home events and so it’s a lot to get to but you know
what that’s what that’s the fun part of being an athletic director it’s not the
8:00 to 5:00 in the office it’s the night, nights and weekends out out of the
fields and courts. And it was an awesome trip. Everybody gets to go to these
national championships like you said the entire athletics administration staff
was spread all over 17 of the 20 sports this year found themselves in the NCAA
postseason which is incredible. A reason why I, based on our calculations another
enacted directors Cup is coming to Grand Valley State and that’s something that
really does prove that you’re the standard of Division two. Well absolutely
and I think yes if our if our math is correct and I got invited down to the
luncheon for Wednesday so outlook is good that we should bring back another
crystal cup but yeah it’s it’s fun we kind of divide and conquer our entire
staff starting with associate ADs to like yourself go into different places
and and bring in the championships back to our fans wherever they’re at whether
it’s here or all over the country so it’s an important piece of what we do
and I think that’s what makes it special too is no matter where we’re at
everybody can share in that it’s great to talk about the success on the field
in the competition but now decide things are really developing at Grand Valley
State as well you talk about the Lakers listen program the new nutrition station
all the things that Grand Valley State did this year to really bolster the
support of student athletes both physically mentally emotionally was very
big to see absolutely we pay our coaches to recruit quality student-athletes and
develop talent and skill development through the
context of their sport as administrators we have to do everything outside of that
the rest of the story the rest of the student has the experience that goes
into giving them. The resources and platforms and spaces to be able to be
successful in their sport athletically and academically so Lakers Listen was,
it’s a peer, it’s a peer based platform for mental, mental health awareness and
having conversations student-athletes having conversations with
student-athletes in terms of whether they’re recovering from an injury and
the mental piece of that or dealing with some things academically or dealing with
some personal issues there’s a space for that. We have amazing resources on campus. This brings it back into the athletic department where student athletes can
talk to student athletes in the world that they live the refueling station is
a big hit our a student athletes are hungry it doesn’t matter if you’re a
250-pound defensive end or 120 pound on a cross-country student-athlete they’re
hungry they’re on the go they don’t always have time so to have a
pre-workout post-workout snack it was I think critical we have to listen to our
student athletes and what they’re dealing with don’t go in from downtown
campus back it’s not just two hours a day they’re carving out they have to
find time to eat sleep do their rehab get their injuries taken care of and
practice and then recover so it’s a lot that goes to it so any little thing that
and those are the things that I think that make a difference we’re you know
we’re doing some great things we’re gonna open the football Center here
February 19th dedication of our football Center so doing some improvements that
will continue to help us sustain that success by continuing to recruit quality
student-athletes because let’s face it facilities matter when they have choices
where we’re just broke I shouldn’t say ground but floor for our
expanded championship lobby this salgo showcase the champions has outgrown
itself 120 trophies we have in storage and that shameful so we’re gonna
continue that into the upper Arena lobby creating the first phase a Hall of Fame
room and then bring in some trophy cases and so that’s gonna be exciting because
that next crystal cup doesn’t have a place to go so we’re gonna make a place
that’s definitely a good problem to have but you mentioned student-athlete a
couple of times and the incredible numbers of the GPA that your
student-athletes put forth this year just speaks volumes about the priorities
that this program has to win in the competition but also succeed in life
absolutely I mean that’s what it’s that’s what it’s
all about if we’re not getting it done there then we’re not for helping the
university fulfill the mission and we’re certainly not helping our
student-athletes achieve their goals they come here to get an education and
we want to help them achieve student-athlete success academically
athletically and socially so it’s all part of that well-rounded experience and
so they’re graduating at a high rate sixty percent of our student athletes
had a GPA of 3.0 or higher again this year and so that’s doing real well well
it’s certainly some well-deserved arrest enjoy it let’s get right back to it next
year but congratulations on a great season and thank for your time thank you
we’re right back to wrap up this season to the Grand Valley State Sports report
right after this that’s all the time we have this season on the Grand Valley
State sports report we will return to act it in the fall to continue to bring
you all the action from around GVSU don’t forget to head to the summer movie
night at Lubbers Stadium where Wreck-it Ralph – Ralph breaks the Internet will
be playing for all ages on June 26th at 7 p.m. For a complete schedule of all
Laker games as well as stories across the entire athletic program visit GVSULakers.com. To see more of this show head to our youtube channel at
youtube.com/wgvu35. Make sure you hit that subscribe button to get updated
video and highlights all year long. A big thank you to everyone who made this show
possible this year from coaches to student-athletes and administration we
thank you. For the entire crew here at WGVU I’m Jake Levy, have a great summer
Laker nation and anchor up

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