NEW ORLEANS - Grand Valley State's Zach Panning and Rachel Walters were named United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Region Track Athlete of the Year Awards, and Ashland's Lindsey Baker was named a USTFCCCA Midwest Region Field Athlete of the Year.
Awards were announced Friday by the USTFCCCA.
The USTFCCCA also released its Division II all-region teams on Tuesday. Fourty men and 41 women representing the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference were honored. The top-5 individuals in each event from each region earned All-Region honors, in addition to each of the members of the region's top-3 relay teams. The regions used for this award – Atlantic, Central, East, Midwest, South, South Central, Southeast and West – match those used during the cross country season.
Panning, a senior from Fort Wayne, Ind., is ranked first nationally in both the 5000 and 10,000. His time in the 5000 of 13:37.94 made him the seventh fastest performer in NCAA DII history, while his mark in the 10,000 of 28:30.77 slotted him in as the ninth fastest all-time performer. Walters, a senior from Lowell, Mich., is ranked first nationally in the 800 at 2:04.15, a time that made her the sixth best performer in NCAA DII history. She is also a member of the fifth ranked 4×400 relay team in the nation.
Baker, a freshman from East Liverpool, Ohio, is ranked first nationally in the shot put at 16.41m (53-10¼). She is also ranked eighth nationally in the hammer at 58.04m (190-5) and 14th nationally in the discus at 50.54m (165-10).
GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes was named the region's coach of the year. Ashland's Ernie Clark received the men's region assistant coach of the year award, while GVSU's Lou Andreadis was named women's regional assistant coach of the year.
In his 20th year as Head Track and Field Coach at Grand Valley State, Baltes led the Laker men to the GLIAC Championship by a 49-point margin on the strength of wins in five individual events. The Lakes enter the NCAA Championships ranked seventh with 14 student-athletes competing in 15 events. Baltes led the GVSU women's track and field team to a dominating win at the GLIAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a 142-point margin of victory. The team ranks first in the region and first overall nationally headed into the NCAA Championships with 21 women set to compete in 23 events.
Clark, who is in his fourth year at Ashland, had his sprints/hurdles/relays group combine for two auto and seven provisional marks for outdoor nationals. He coached Myles Pringle to the No. 24 ranking in the world with a 45.54 in the 400. Currently ranked No. 9 in the U.S., Pringle has posted the No. 14 and 15 times in NCAA DII history this season. He also coached Trevor Bassitt to the U.S. rank of No. 45 in the 110H and U.S. rank of No. 55 in 400H to go with being named the GLIAC High Point Track Athlete of the Meet and Track Athlete of the Meet, respectively. His group scored 91 points at the GLIAC Championships.
Andreadis, is his 18th year with the program, turned Grand Valley State into a pole vault powerhouse as he has eight of his pole vaulters on the NCAA qualifying list which included four of the top-8 in the entire country. His Vaulters swept the top five spots at the GLIAC Championships scoring a total of 33 points to help the Lakers win their 20th straight GLIAC Championship.