GVSU XC teams eager to race at MSU

Lakers begin '14 with un-scored races on Friday

By Kate Nuyen | 9/8/14 9:10am

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Jessica Janecke

by GVL/Archive / The Lanthorn

The Grand Valley State University cross country teams are about to put their hard work and offseason preparation to the test for the first time this fall.

The GVSU teams will compete against a number of NCAA Division I teams on Friday at Michigan State's Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Mich. The Laker men will participate in an 8-kilometer race, while the women will compete in a 6-kilometer race. Though the event will not be scored, the GVSU program won't be competing lightly.

Kyle Flores, a junior, said he believes his team has a great chance of competing side-by-side against the DI schools. However, he and the No. 2 Lakers will not overlook any team in the event, especially a familiar foe in the GLIAC.

“We are looking forward to competing against Ashland University, since they are one of our conference rivals," Flores said.

On the women's side, the reigning national champions and preseason favorites are just as confident.

“I believe that the women's team will stack up really well to the Division I schools," said GVSU senior Allyson Winchester. "We are great at grouping together and pushing each other throughout the race. We go into these big races very confident and we know that to get better we have to race some tough schools.”

The members of both GVSU teams see this first meet as an opportunity to gage where they are as a program, and the strong field of runners gives the Lakers a measuring-stick type of comparison early in 2014.

"This meet is not the most important meet of the year, but it is the most important first meet of the year for us," said coach Jerry Baltes.

After a long week of training, Baltes' Lakers are ready to put their spikes back on. 

Flores said he thinks this meet will be a good “rust buster” from the break between seasons and sees it as a chance to get back in the swing of competing, while Winchester also said she sees the Spartan Invitational as a chance to get back into the swing of racing regularly.

For both GVSU teams, the focus is always about improving from meet to meet. Like the actual cross country race itself, the 2014 season is seen as an act of endurance.

“It’s important in this first race to test your limits and see how far you can go so that it will prepare you for future races,” Winchester said.

Baltes and his runners certainly seem to be on the same page.

“This meet is a great building block to build upon and move forward,” he said.

Both races will take place at the Forest Akers East Golf Course. The women’s race begins at noon before the men get started at 12:30 p.m.

“We are excited to finally race since we have been working our butts off since June for this season," Flores said. "I am glad that we get to be back on the course and show the nation what we're made of."

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