GVSU cross country is national champs again
Winning national championships two of the past three years tends to put an immense amount of pressure on a program to continue that same type of success. Most programs often fall off after having such fruitful seasons.
The thought of becoming complacent doesn’t distract the GVSU cross country programs, though, as they have shown to reload, coming back year after year with as much talent and ability as the last. That theme proved to be true this weekend as the women’s cross country team defended its title by claiming yet another national championship, while the men put forth another gutsy performance, finishing the race as runners-up.
“Everything fell into place perfectly. It was supposed to end this way,” sophomore Jessica Janecke said. “It was such a great feeling to finish out on top, where we aimed to be at all year long. Being able to celebrate the guys’ success was a feeling all in its own.”
The women’s cross country team made a statement, proving that it is a dominant force in Division II cross country by winning its third national championship in four years.
“They have been working all year long for this. It was great to see this all come together,” head coach Jerry Baltes said. “This really solidifies us as a whole. To be able to come back after the year we had last season and repeat all the same successes really shows how much work this team has put in.”
The Lakers were led by Janecke and junior Allyson Winchester, who both posted top 10 finishes. Winchester came in at third place overall with a time of 21 minutes, 5 seconds, while Janecke finished ninth with a time of 21:18.9.
“We talked about it earlier; everyone just needed to run their race,” Janecke said. “We’ve been here before. There wasn’t as much nerves as there was in the past. It’s a great feeling to see everyone come together and accomplish this for the program.”
Overall, the Laker women’s cross country team finished with six girls finishing in the top 40, earning All-American honors. Freshman Kendra Foley made her national championship debut as she posted a time of 21:21.5 to earn herself an 11th place finish.
“We continued to run the same way that we have all year, feeding off of each others’ momentum,” Janecke said. “I couldn’t be more proud of how our entire team raced not only this past weekend, but really the entire season.”
Coming off a disappointing seventh place finish from a year ago, the Laker men’s cross country team came into nationals with a chip on its shoulder, wanting to prove that it belonged among the top teams of Division II.
The Laker men proved just that as they accomplished the best finish in school history and ended their season with a second place finish with a total team score of 104, narrowly beating out third place Augustana (122).
“We really left last season with a bad feeling. Finishing seventh a year ago wasn’t up to our standards,” senior Brent Showerman said. “This performance was really something that we can all be proud of.”
Showerman led the Lakers by coming in at 14th place with a time of 30:46. Closely behind Showerman was junior Alan Peterson, who finished 16th overall with a time of 30:56.
“Having this type of finish to my career really leaves me satisfied,” Showerman said. “It shows that our program is in the right direction, which is ultimately winning national championships.”
The Laker men’s cross country team finished with four runners earing All-American accolades. Sophomore Chad Cini and senior Josh Moskalewski joined Showerman and Peterson in the top 40 as Cini crossed the line in 22nd place with a time of 30:59, while Moskalewski finished in 26th place with a time of 31:03.
“This was a great day for our programs,” Baltes said. “We have to continue to stay focused and driven. Becoming complacent would diminish all the success we have seen this season.”