Men, women XC run away with GLIAC championship
Grand Valley State University senior Brent Showerman finished in third place in the last two Laker cross country meets. On Saturday, Showerman finally broke through, winning an individual GLIAC Championship in the 8K with a time of 25 minutes, 18 seconds.
The prize was especially sweet for Showerman, a determined athlete who failed to make the Laker team in his first year at GVSU.
“Brent has been the cornerstone of our program the last couple of year from leadership to work ethic,” head coach Jerry Baltes said. “Today was many years of hard work coming together for an incredible person. This is the essence of commitment, sacrifice and, most of all, persistence.”
Following Showerman’s lead, GVSU emerged victorious in both the men’s and women’s competitions, returning to Allendale with matching GLIAC championship titles. On the men’s side, sophomore Chad Cini and junior Alan Peterson finished third and fourth overall, supporting Showerman, who was named GLIAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year, in his winning effort. The GVSU men dominated their field with 21 points—kilometers ahead of runners-up Malone University, which finished with 95.
While cross country is a sport that depends largely on individual performance, both the Laker men’s and women’s teams paced themselves together, surrounding themselves with encouragement and camaraderie en route to a title sweep.
It is the 12th consecutive GLIAC title for the men’s team and the 13th straight GLIAC crown for the women’s squad.
“We train together every day, and we’re around each other all the time,” Showerman said. “Having those guys around is like a security blanket. Right around the 5K mark, we had our top seven up front. We run together and win together.”
Although no women took an individual first place for GVSU, the Lakers placed three runners in the top five as they cruised to a GLIAC championship of their own.
Junior Allyson Winchester, who won the individual GLIAC championship in 2012, fell one place short of a repeat championship, finding herself in second place with a time of 22:09. Scoring third and fifth place finishes were sophomore Jess Janecke (22:16) and senior Courtney Brewis (22:28). The Lakers tallied a miniscule 30 points, blowing away second place finishers and in-state rival Saginaw Valley State University.
“The GLIAC Championship is the first step of our championship season, and it is very important for our program to compete with pride,” Baltes said. “Each of our student athletes have all of the incentive in the world to compete to the best of their ability in order to help our program become the best we can.”
Saturday’s victories cemented GVSU’s place atop the Division II cross country world. Coming into the tournament, U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll ranked the Laker men third in the country while the women sat at the apex of their own respective poll.
Five Laker men (Showerman, Cini, Peterson, Larry Julson and Spencer Pageau) and three Laker women (Winchester, Janecke and Brewis) also walked away with the honor of being named First-Team All GLIAC—a title that is awarded to runners who finish in the top seven on the day.
The Lakers, who have two meets remaining before the runners take to the track for the winter, will look to continue their successes in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championship on Nov. 9 in Kenosha, Wisc.