XC teams rank high among Division I Programs
Any team that has ever come up short at the end of the season can attest to one simple sports adage,
“to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Jerry Baltes—head coach of the Grand Valley State University cross country teams—is doing his best to
drill this into his runners in 2013.
On Saturday, the Lakers took to the course as part of the 28th annual Roy Griak Invitational hosted by
the Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota.
Twenty-four schools were present on the men’s side as opposed to 28 for the women’s. Minnesota, a
Division I team, was joined by 15 other Division I schools in what was the first officially scored meet of
the season for GVSU.
The Laker men—ranked third in Division II entering competition Saturday—did more than hold its own
against the powerhouses of the nation, finishing the day 12th overall. GVSU’s women came into the
meet ranked first in Division II and fittingly finished a few spots higher than the men at ninth.
“We came out here to run against some of the best competition in the country and get some valuable
experience,” Baltes said. “We’re still improving and still not even halfway through our season. All in all,
we were good today.”
While the higher competition ensured that GVSU was pushed to its limits, the other Division II schools
gave the Lakers a benchmark for their success. Of the eight Division II schools competing at the
invitational, the Laker men finished second, posting a team time of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 49
seconds in the 8K.
The only Division II school to best GVSU was heavily-favorited Adams State University, which finished
fourth overall after racing to the tune of a 2:04:32 finish.
Junior Alan Peterson and senior Larry Julson set the pace for the Lakers, finishing 39th and 48th
Facing so many highly-regarded schools doesn’t faze GVSU as some may think, Julson said.
“The way (Coach Baltes) coaches is at a Division I level, we’re only a Division II school academically,”
he said. “We always try to see it as simulating the national championship, as the competition is very
The top-ranked GVSU women’s squad reinforced its Division II ranking, finishing as the only Division II
squad in the top 10 finishers. The women, who run a 6K as opposed to an 8K, finished off their fine
outing with a team time of 1:50:32. Sophomore Jess Janecke (21:43), junior Allyson Winchester (22:02)
and senior Courtney Brewis (22:03) led the Lakers to an impressive team outing.
“Today was a great way to prepare for what future meets against good competition might be like,”
Brewis said. “Teams here have fast starts and you need to be able to get off the line quickly and stay
tough at the end of the race.”
Staying tough is going to have to be a common theme for the 2013 Lakers if they want to weather the
storm and make a podium finish at the national championship meet. As the Lakers know, their high
rankings are bound to place the inevitable target on their backs, meaning they’ll have to race at peak
performance week in and week out if they want to live up to expectations.
“It’s important to find the balance between dreaming big and having high expectations and not letting
pressure get to you,” Baltes said. “I think they do a pretty good job of handling those expectations
from the outside.”
Both teams race next on Oct. 4 at Notre Dame.