VU Track & Field Continues to Build on Impressive 2017 Indoor Campaign with Big Weekend at GVSU - Athletics
Grand Rapids, MI – The Vincennes University Track and Field teams continued their impressive indoor season on Friday and Saturday at Grand Valley State University’s Big Meet by throwing down 5 marks good enough to be in the top 10 in the NJCAA in their specific event, and by adding several more athletes to their list of national qualifiers this season.
Sophomore Stoney Prowell got the Trailblazers off to a hot start at GVSU on Friday by picking up the team’s first win of the meet by taking 1st in the 600m dash. Prowell clocked a time of 1:20.27. That mark narrowly misses the school record by .47 tenths of a second, and currently sits as the 4th fastest time in the NJCAA in the event. Prowell would double back on Saturday, and take a win in the 400m dash as well to round out his weekend.
Fellow Sophomore Jordan Down’s joined Prowell, and several of his teammates in throwing down big performances at the Kelly Sports Complex this weekend, by taking 2nd in the pole vault with a leap of 15’ 3 ¾”. That jump currently sits #4 in the NJCAA in what is shaping up to be a very tight contest nationally in the vault. Downs also competed in the long jump, taking 5th, and tying his PR with a jump of 22’ 11 ¼”. Downs again, narrowly missed the NJCAA qualifier by ½”.
Sophomore Jose Abel Cano Pallares qualified in the Mile with a season best time of 4:23.40. That mark currently sits 10th in the NJCAA in the event.
The Women’s Distance Medley Relay consisting of: Sydney Davidson, Elizabeth Bristow, Maisie Lay, and Anais Da Silva raced to the 2nd fastest time in school history, and the #3 time in the NJCAA this year by running 12:37.46. Da Silva preceded that the night before by breaking her own school record in the 3,000m run in a time of 10:06.54. That time currently sits 2nd in the NJCAA, adding to what was already an impressive list of top 5 times for Da Silva who also sits in the top 5 in the: Mile, 5,000, and Distance Medley Relay.
Freshman Marlowe Mosely also tacked another event onto his national qualifying list by qualifying in the 400m dash with a time of 49.19 seconds. He was narrowly edged out by fellow VU teammate Stoney Prowell, but still finished 2nd in the event. Mosely has now qualified in the 4x4, 600, and 400m dash.
A pair of freshman half-milers punched their ticket to Pittsburgh state as well on Saturday. Sydney Davidson qualified in the 800m run with a season best time of 2:24.26, and fellow freshman teammate Maisie Lay qualified with a time of 2:25.79. Both ladies had qualified in the Distance Medley Relay earlier in the day, but this was the first in what is sure to be many individual events that the two stud middle distance runners will qualify in.
National stand-out Varvara Klyuchnikova finished in 4th in the High Jump under difficult conditions at the Kelly Sports Complex. Coach Chris Gafner said, “For right footed jumpers, this place is really tough because you have to mark your steps on the track. So you have to watch for runners who are racing at you, and you may have to speed up or slow down your approach, which really can throw you off.” Freshman Jamesha Western also continued her very strong indoor campaign by finishing 4th in the shot put.
The Vincennes University Track and Field teams will be in action again this Friday as they Travel to Trine University for the Region XII Indoor Championships. Start time is set for 2:00 p.m. EST! Go Trailblazers!
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Track and Field
The Vincennes University Track & Field Teams have consistently been among the NJCAA’s top Div. I programs.
In building itself into an elite junior college program and maintaining that status for more than four decades, VU has recorded consistent top-10 national team finishes and amassed eight NJCAA national team titles, while crowning 32 individual national champions. Along the way, members of the Trailblazer Track & Field Teams have earned 108 NJCAA All-American designations, while about 287 VU competitors have been national placers and three have garnered national records in track & field competition.
Success breeds success and the strong Trailblazer recruiting class for the 2017-18 school year indicates that VU’s achievements on the national level will continue into the future.
As for the program’s heritage, many VU athletes have gone on to star at the NCAA level, including NJCAA record-holder Natalia Bartnovskaya who followed up her stellar VU career by becoming the Kansas Jayhawks' school record-holder in both indoor and outdoor pole vault, a two-time NCAA First-Team All-American and a NCAA national champion for Kansas in 2013. Other notable alumni include Ryan Smith who won the NCAA title in the shot put for the University of Indianapolis in 2013, Tatiana Zhuravela who won a discus national title for the University of Indianapolis in 2014 and Pierre Banks’ 110 meter hurdle championship for Wayland Baptist in 2014 .
Head Track and Field Coach Chris Gafner
Chris Gafner is in his 15th year at Vincennes University and his 13th season as head coach of the VU Men's and Women's Track & Field and Cross Country Teams. He also coaches VU Cross Country student-athletes to compete in the NJCAA Half-Marathon Championship Meet each season.
Since Coach Gafner took over the Trailblazer programs, VU has had 27 national champions and 77 NJCAA All-Americans. In addition, VU has produced the NJCAA careers of five NJCAA national athletes of the year, three NJCAA national records and 196 national placers. Coach Gafner was the 2012 NJCAA Coach of the Year.
The Trailblazer men and women have turned in 22 top-10 team finishes and five top-5 team performances at indoor and outdoor national championship meets during Coach Gafner’s VU tenure.
In addition to athletic success, Coach Gafner’s cross country and track & field teams have won numerous academic awards. Both teams have finished in the top 3 nationally in team grade-point average on several occasions and have claimed numerous individual NJCAA and USTFCCCA Academic All-American awards.
Coach Gafner is level 2 certified by United States Track & Field in the jumps, sprints, hurdles and relays.
Prior to VU, Coach Gafner was an assistant track & field and cross country coach at Lansing Community College in 2002 and 2003. He was the head track & field and cross country coach for the 2001 and 2002 seasons at Mt. Vernon Academy in Salt Lake City, UT.
A 2001 graduate of Siena Heights University, he also attended Lansing Community College. During his college career, Coach Gafner was a seven-time national qualifier in track and a member of two national champion cross country teams.
Coach Gafner is a devoted family man. He is married to his wife, Linzie and has three children: John, Emma and James.
VU Assistant Coach Tim Marsee has garnered several NJCAA Assistant Coach of the Year awards over the past several indoor and outdoor track & field seasons. Marsee was named the USTFCCCA’s Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year just before the 2017 NJCAA Outdoor National Championships. Marsee would coach athletes: Jordan Downs, and Aintzane Casterlenas Martinez to win NJCAA Outdoor National Titles in the Pole Vault, and would coach Richard Griffith to a runner-up finish, as well as Merica Valdez to a 3rd place finish in the event. Marsee also coached Jamesha Western to an NJCAA All-American finish in the hammer throw, making that 2 National Champions, and 3 All-Americans over the course of the meet.
Contact information for Coach Tim Marsee is firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond VU Track & Field's mission to give each student-athlete opportunities to excel against top four-year programs as well as the top two-year teams throughout the country, Trailblazer student-athletes also receive guidance to complete their VU degree and transfer to successful four-year institutions. The following are a few of the colleges and universities that VU Track & Field and Cross Country student-athletes have gone on to: Indiana, Purdue, Indiana State, Ball State, Fresno State, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Western Kentucky, Alabama, Middle Tennessee State, Western Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Louisville, Louisiana State, Southern Indiana, Illinois, Greenville, Murray State, Arkansas State, Huntington College, Indianapolis, Anderson, Manchester, St. Thomas (FL) and Kentucky.