DII Women’s Program of the Year Award to be Named After GVSU’s Jerry Baltes

Courtesy: Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA

January 24, 2013   

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) is proud to announce current Grand Valley State head track & field and cross country coach Jerry Baltes has been honored by the Association as the namesake of the Division II Women’s Program of the Year Award. In 2010-11, Baltes, now in his 14th season with GVSU, became the first DII women’s coach to lead his squad in an academic year to a sweep of NCAA team titles in cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field.

More Information: USTFCCCA Program of the Year Award History

Since the 2008-09 academic year, the USTFCCCA has awarded Program of the Year honors to the top program for each gender and NCAA division based on NCAA Championship finishes in the sports of cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field.

“It is a great honor to have the Program of the Year trophy named after me and our program,” said Baltes. “This is a credit to everyone involved in our program over the years especially our student-athletes and assistant coaches. There have been many amazing coaches at the Division II level over the years and to be singled out is a humbling thought. I am very thankful for all of those that have had anything to do with putting this together.”

The Program of the Year awards in Division I have been named in honor of former Arkansas coach John McDonnell (men’s) and former Texas coach Terry Crawford (women’s) and in Division III after Al Carius of North Central College (men’s) and former UW-Oshkosh coach Deb Vercauteren (women’s). Each of these coaches, except Crawford, has previously led their squads to “triple crowns” – NCAA Championships in each of the three sports in a single academic year. Crawford’s squad won all three titles in the 1986 calendar year, but no DI women’s team has ever won the academic year “triple crown”.

“It’s our honor to name this award after Coach Baltes,” said Sam Seemes, CEO of the USTFCCCA. “His teams at GVSU have shown great excellence in recent years and his name will forever be etched with this award. His team made history as the first to earn a Division II triple crown and that should be celebrated for generations to come.”

The Grand Valley State women’s program has won the Program of the Year Award every year since it was first given following the 2008-2009 academic year. GVSU currently leads the standings for the 2012-2013 award as the Lakers claimed their second NCAA cross country title in November.

Baltes led the Lakers to a historic 2010-11 season, beginning with the program winning its first national championship in cross country by 29 points over runner-up Western State, 66-95. The Lakers then went on to win their first indoor title by 32 points over Lincoln (Mo.), and capped the year with an 82.5-68 victory at the DII Outdoor Championships over Lincoln.

“We are very proud and honored that the USTFCCCA is naming their Division II Program of the Year award the Jerry Baltes Award,” said Tim Selgo, Director of Athletics at Grand Valley State University. “Jerry well deserves this honor as it is a testament to the wonderful leadership he has provided GVSU and the Laker Track & Field and Cross Country programs.”

The Lakers’ 2010-11 campaign guided by Baltes was emblematic of the sustained success he has earned at Grand Valley State since he arrived 14 years ago, winning six national championships and 68 of 84 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (GLIAC) titles.

Grand Valley State has grown into a consistent presence on the national landscape under Baltes’ tutelage, who, between men’s and women’s cross country and track & field, has groomed 107 All-American athletes who have earned a combined 300 All-America honors. In just 14 years, he has led the men’s and women’s indoor track & field teams to 53 top-20 finishes at the NCAA National Championships, and his women’s cross country teams have finished in the top five nationally every year since 1999.

Baltes is a 50-time GLIAC Coach of the Year honoree between men’s and women’s cross country and track & field, and he has earned Great Lakes/Midwest Regional Coach of the Year 33 times – 11 each in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field. He is also a 10-time winner of the USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year award, earning a sweep of the awards for the three seasons of the historic 2010-2011 academic year.