GVSU cross country teams prep for GLIACs
Grand Valley State University’s men’s and women’s cross country teams are set to go streaking again this fall.
No, not the kind that involves shedding clothes.
The Lakers are aiming for their 11th-consecutive men’s GLIAC title, and also it would be the women’s 12th-consecutive GLIAC title as the teams travel to the GLIAC Championships in Midland, Mich. Saturday.
“We’re just ready to compete and eager to get out and going,” said head coach Jerry Baltes. “Staying focused, and not putting pressure on ourselves is the key.”
The Lakers have become accustomed to handling pressure during their 10-plus year streak of consecutive GLIAC titles.
“We are aware that we have a huge target on our backs year in and year out,” Baltes said. “Our kids realize that, and do a great job of consistently bringing everything they have to each race.”
Consistency is a common term used around both the men’s and women’s programs. In any given race GVSU is running, a pack of Lakers will be working together, driving each other toward the finish.
“You never really know who is going to be leading the pack on any given race,” said redshirt freshman Spencer Pageau. “We really focus on running in a group, working off of each other’s determination and toughness to get through the race.”
The Lakers women’s team, like the men, is built around a mixture of young talent and experienced veterans — a formula that has worked to perfection thus far this season.
“Any one of us can finish first for us,” Pageau said. “We have seven No. 1 runners, we’re not really worried about who finishes first.”
The Lakers are coming off of strong performances from redshirt freshman Jessica Janecke’s GLIAC Cross Country Runner of the Week feat. The team also had strong showings from Pageau, and Joe Duff’s first and second place showings at the Michigan Intercollegiate earlier this month.
“Our athletes have continued to stay focused,” Baltes said. “It’s really shown by what they have accomplished so far.”
Teams looking to spoil the streak of both the men’s and women’s programs include a very strong Ferris State University team, and a new program on the rise in Malone University.
“We can’t get cocky,” said redshirt freshman Duff. “We know everyone will be gunning for us; that’s why it’s key for us to stay focused.”
In order for the Lakers men’s and women’s programs to earn another GLIAC title, they will have to continue to run consistently as they did throughout the year. That being quality performances from their No. 7 runner all the way to the No. 1 runner.
“We lost a lot from last year’s team,” Duff said. “We rebounded nicely, just as we thought. It’s now up to us to bring home another title.”
The Lakers will leave it all on the line this Saturday, when they travel up to Midland, hoping to bring yet another set of GLIAC conference titles back to Allendale.