GVSU XC teams impress at Spartan invite

Lakers run alongside DI talent in non-scored race

By Kate Nuyen | 9/12/14 4:01pm

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Cross Country season is officially back.

The Spartan Invitational took place Friday at the Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing, Mich. The top-ranked Grand Valley State University women’s team placed four runners in the top 15, while the No. 2 Laker men had 10 runners finish in the top 30. Coach Jerry Baltes said it was a solid race for both genders.

GVSU sophomore Kendra Foley finished fifth in the 6-kilometer race with a time of 21:25, while senior Jessica Janecke was right on her heels. Janecke finished six seconds behind Foley for a sixth-place finish. The top four finishers were all members of the Michigan State University program.

Foley chalked up her impressive finish to simply remembering what it was like to race again and staying competitive.

On the men’s side, GVSU senior Alan Peterson crossed the finish line first on the team in the 8-kilometer race by placing fourth with a time of 24:41. The next Laker to cross the finish line was junior Chad Cini in 13th place (24:56). During the race, Cini said he was focused on the person in fourth place.

“I knew I was one of the top guys in the race,” Cini said. “So I just had my focus set on staying up with the front group as long as I could – and sticking close to Alan Peterson.”

Senior John Luterbach took 18th place in the event. He said even though it was the first race of the season, he and his teammates are focusing on December when the NCAA Division II National Championship will take place in Louisville, Ky.

“Most guys ran 15-18 miles the day before the race which obviously isn't conducive to running your best time,” Luterbach said. “In the grand scheme of things, the first race isn't very important. If you're running your best races in September you're training wrong or just don't care about competing at the national meet.”

The course at East Forest Akers Golf Course is a flat one and has been described as a “fast” course, although it did have some changes from previous years.

The course is not only great to run on, but it’s good for the spectators, since there is lots of room.

“It’s nice to hear GVSU fans cheering us on for most of the race,” Foley said.

As the training turns into competing, the emphasis is still on racing as a team.

“I focused on working with my teammates,” Luterbach said. “Cross country is a team sport, and a lot of strength can be found from working together with people whom you train with day in and day out. It is nice to feed off of each other's energy and great results can occur when you race for something bigger than yourself.”

The members of both teams are hoping the fundamentals of working together and training hard will pay off in the form of a national title. For the GVSU program, every meet is an opportunity to improve. A common phrase used by coach Jerry Baltes is, "stay humble, stay hungry.”

The Lakers race next on Sept. 27 at the Roy Griak Invitational, held at Les Bolstad Golf Course in Minneapolis, Minn. 

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