GVSU's Panning, Ludge, Baltes and Watson receive special USTFCCCA honors

GVSU's Panning, Ludge, Baltes and Watson receive special USTFCCCA honors

NEW ORLEANS – Regional athletes and coaches of the year for the 2019 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field season were announced Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Each of the eight regions honored both genders' top track athletes and field athletes and the top men's and women's head coaches and assistant coaches.

Grand Valley State's Zach Panning and Allie Ludge, and coaches Jerry Baltes and Aaron Watson represented the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with Midwest Region athlete and coach of the year awards.

Panning, a senior from Fort Wayne, Ind., is ranked second nationally in the 5,000 at 13:58.19 OT and third nationally in the 3,000 at 8:01.12 OT. He is also ranked 21st nationally in the mile at 4:08.37 OT and anchors GVSU's fifth-ranked DMR team.

Ludge, a junior from Grand Rapids, Mich., is ranked third nationally in the 3,000 at 9:23.70 OT and sixth nationally in the mile at 4:48.31 OT. She won the individual title in the mile at the GLIAC Championships and finished third in the 800 at the same meet. Ludge is also the anchor of the third-ranked DMR team in the nation.

In his 20th year at Grand Valley State, Baltes led the Laker women to the No. 2 spot in the national rankings on the strength of 25 qualifiers to the NCAA Championships. Earlier this season, the Lakers won the GLIAC indoor title in absolutely dominating fashion, scoring nearly twice as many points as the runner-up team.

Watson, named Midwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year, has a large distance contingent that will compete at the NCAA Championships. GVSU will have no less than 13 entries in events from 800 meters to 5000 meters, plus a distance medley relay for the national championships. The group also compiled 25 points in the 3,000 and 24 points in the 5000 at this season's GLIAC Championships.

The NCAA DII Indoor Nationals are March 8-9 at Pittsburgh State in Pittsburgh, Kan.

Complete USTFCCCA Release