GVSU dominate Michigan Intercollegiate Championships
Stepping to the line at the Michigan Intercollegiate Championship on Friday, the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s cross country teams were primed for strong performances, and the brisk 54-degree weather wasn’t going to stop them.
The No. 3 GVSU women swept the top three spots and placed 10 runners in the top-19 in their 5K race. Meanwhile, the No. 5 GVSU men captured four of the top-five spots, with nine finishing in the top-15 in the 8K event hosted by Calvin College.
“The course was a great cross country course, good footing,” said GVSU men’s and women’s head coach Jerry Baltes. “The weather was great. We expected to run fast and it is always good to see that happen.”
Redshirt freshman Jessica Janecke had another strong race, leading the Lakers with a time of 17 minutes, 16.40 seconds to win the event. Sophomore Allyson Winchester was not far behind at 17:19.3 as the two really distanced themselves from the rest of the field. To ensure the top three spots belonged to GVSU, junior Courtney Brewis ran a 17:34.9.
Junior Kelcie Severson also finished in the top-five with a time of 17:46.8.
“It was cold but you forget about that once you are in the race and you are just racing for you and your team, and what you want to accomplish,” Janecke said. “It was definitely a good step in the right direction for where we want to go the rest of the season.”
Six other Lakers crossed the finish line in the top 20. Sophomore Madie Rodts came in eighth and junior Molly Slavens finished ninth, while sophomore Hannah Osborn came across 12th.
Junior Kelsey Young and sophomore Brianna Hewett finished 14th and 16th, respectively, just ahead of redshirt freshman Mary Boyd who rounded out the Laker competitors in 19th place.
“We went in knowing that we wanted to take charge of the race,” Janecke said. “It was the most teamwork-oriented race I have ever been a part of and it was really awesome.”
GVSU captured the team title with a mere 19 points, greatly outdistancing second-place Calvin with 74 points, and Saginaw Valley State University, who finished with 85 points in third.
On the men’s side, redshirt freshman Spencer Pageau was not only the first Laker to complete the course, but the first runner in the entire field, with his time of 24:35.5. Fellow redshirt freshman Joe Duff was in hot pursuit, coming in at 24:37.6.
“We had some guys sit out for our race, some of our older guys,” Pageau said. “It was just really nice to see everybody step up when we had some guys out and it was our chance to get up there. I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
The dominant performance from GVSU on the day continued as junior Brent Showerman came in fourth and senior Jake Isaacson finished fifth. Just like the women, spots eight and nine were occupied by the Laker men, taken by freshmen Ahmed Elmi and Chad Cini.
Sophomore Kousei Yajima crossed the line in 12th place, while juniors Bryce Pulley and Ryan Ziolko captured 14th and 15th to help the Lakers cruise to the title with only 20 team points.
“It is sort of a deep breath before the final storm,” Baltes said. “Our focus is ultimately the last six weeks of the season with the conference, regional and national meets. We worked on some different things with different people within the race. Now we take that big deep breath and get back to work.”
The Lakers will have a weekend without a race as they prepare and continue to train for their biggest meets of the year. The stretch begins on Oct. 20 at the GLIAC Cross Country Championships in Midland, Mich.