GVSU Track & Field

Grand Valley State Track & Field Camps

Head Coach Jerry Baltes

Jerry Baltes is in his 21st year at the helm of the men's and women's cross country and track and field teams at Grand Valley State entering the 2019-20 academic year. During his time at GVSU, Baltes has been able to build 11 championship teams, seven Division II Women’s Program of the Year awards, two Division II Men’s Program of the Year and led GVSU to 107 out of 120 cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field GLIAC championships.

Overall, Baltes has won 62 GLIAC Coach of the Year titles and has groomed over 200 All-American athletes for a combined total of 780 All-American honors. Baltes has received the Great Lakes/Midwest Regional Coach of the Year Award in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field for a combined total of 57 times. The women's cross country, track and field teams at Grand Valley State have won all three (cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) conference championships since 2001, while the men won all three for a streak of five seasons (2003-07) including back to back sweeps of the titles during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 year.

The cross country program under Baltes at the NCAA Championships has had a combined 35 top-10 finishes with 13 top-five finishes and a national title in 2018 from the men, and 19 top-five finishes by the women including six national championships in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Baltes wasted no time in making a name for the women's program as the Lakers have won seven Jerry Baltes Division II Program of the Year awards, including five in a row from the 2008-2009 season through 2012-2013. GVSU also recorded a second place finishes in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

In cross country, Baltes has led the women to 19 GLIAC titles, including 18 straight conference and regional titles championships and five National Championships. In 2010, Baltes and the Lakers finally won their first cross country title after the women scored 66 points as all five of their scoring runners finished in the top-20. GVSU would add four more championships including three-in-row from 2012-14 and their fifth title in 2016. The Lakers captured their sixth national title in 2018 after they scored 41 points and had four out of their five scoring athletes place in the top-30, including four in the top-10.

In track and field, Baltes has dominated the GLIAC as he has guided the women's indoor and outdoor track & field teams to 20 straight GLIAC titles, including school records in points with 260 and 282 points during the 2019 GLIAC Indoor and Outdoor Championships. At the national level Baltes has guided GVSU to four more championships with back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012 during the indoor and outdoor seasons.

On the men’s side, Baltes has built one of the best programs in the nation, as the program captured back-to-back Damon Martin Division II Men’s Program of Year awards during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic year.  In 2018-19 the men reached the podium all three times during the NCAA National Championships, as they won a national title in cross country, and then finished fourth at the 2019 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. In 2017-18, GVSU finally won its first Men’s Program of the Year award, as the cross country team finished second in the NCAA Cross Country Championships, sixth at the NCAA Indoor Championships and fifth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. GVSU also has finished second in the Damon Martin Division II Men’s Program of Year standings from the 2013-2014 season through the 2016-17 season.

Similar to the women’s cross country team, Baltes has built a men’s program that has dominated the GLIAC and the Midwest region since, and one the nations best program his arrive to GVSU. The Lakers have won 17 consecutive GLIAC and Regional championships and finally won their first national championship in 2018 after they had finished second in the NCAA Cross Country Championships four out of the last six years from 2012 through 2017, while having placed ninth in 2002, sixth in 2004, fourth in 2005, fifth in 2006, fourth in 2007, fifth in 2008, fifth in 2009, third in 2010, third in 2011, seventh in 2012 and fourth in 2015.

The men’s track & field program has collected 18 GLIAC Indoor Championships and 13 Outdoor Championships, both of which are the most in the GLIAC. At the NCAA Championships, the Lakers have finished in the top-10 eight times during the Indoor Championships and have had seven top-10 performances during the Outdoor Championships.

Baltes has led the men's and women's indoor and outdoor track teams to 57 top-20 finishes at the NCAA National Championships. The men's indoor track and field team placed 13th in 2000, 15th in 2001, 12th in 2002, 18th in 2005, 10th in 2006, eighth in 2007, fourth in 2008, 12th in 2009, 20th in 2011, fourth in 2013, sixth in 2014, second in 2015, fifth in 2016, eighth in 2017, sixth in 2018 and fourth in 2019 . The women's team finished 14th in 1999, ninth in 2002, seventh in 2003, 16th in 2005, fifth in 2006, third in 2007, sixth in 2008, second in 2009, second in 2010, first in 2011, first in 2012, fourth in 2013, fourth in 2014, sixth in 2015, third in 2016, second in 2017, eighth in 2018 and second in 2019. The men's outdoor track and field team finished in 13th place in 2006, eighth in 2007, sixth in 2008, 12th in 2009, 16th in 2011, sixth in 2014, 10th in 2015, fifth in 2016,13th in 2017, fifth in 2018 and fourth in 2019. The women's team placed 11th in 2002, 18th in 2005, fourth in 2006, fifth in 2007, eighth in 2008, fourth in 2009, third in 2010, first in 2011, first in 2012, third in 2013, third in 2014, fourth in 2015, fourth in 2016, second in 2017, fourth in 2018 and fourth in 2019.

Baltes has had 26 individual national championships and four relay teams at GVSU. Most recently, Bobbie Goodwin won the weight throw during the 2019 indoor championships, while Sarah Berger claimed a national title during the the 2018 cross country season. Zach Panning added two more national titles to his resume in 2019, as he swept the 5,000m and 10,000m runs during the 2019 outdoor championships. Panning also won the 5,000m run 2018 during the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships, while the women’s 4x400m relay team composed of Jessica Eby, Angela Ritter, Chant’e Roberts and Rachael Walters also won a championship at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships.  Jason Van Elst became Grand Valley's first-ever individual National Champion as he won the 35 pound weight throw (65'-9.5") in 2001 in Boston, Mass. Mandi (Long) Zemba became the school's first-ever female athlete to win an individual national championship in the 1,500m race during the 2002 outdoor season.

Other student-athletes who have competed at the USA Track and Field Championships since Baltes has been at GVSU includes Sam Lockhart, Mandi Zemeba (5,000m/8,000m) Betsy Graney (3,000m Steeplechase), Rachel Patterson (5,000m), Kristen Hixson (Pole Vault), Darien Thornton (Hammer Throw), and current Lakers Zach Panning (10,000m) and Rachael Walters (800m).

Prior to Grand Valley State, Baltes was a four-time letter winner and captain of the cross country/track and field teams at Butler University. He then began his coaching career at Butler where he was the assistant men's and women's track and field/cross country coach for two years at Butler. His area of focus was with the distance athletes in cross country and the jumpers in track. He played a major role in building a cross country program that qualified for the National Championships. In 1998, he assisted in leading the Butler Bulldogs to 16th place at the NCAA Championships. Baltes also guided Butler's first track athlete to the 1998 National Championships in the 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 meters, since 1971.

Originally from Rolling Prairie, Indiana, Baltes graduated from Butler in 1998, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education-physical education.