GVSU cross country teams reloaded for 2015

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Bryce Bradley

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Bryce Bradley

Andy Smith

HEADLINE: Staying on top

BY: Andy Smith

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After another successful campaign in 2014, the Grand Valley State cross country teams are looking to duplicate last year’s success and keep the momentum going for the 2015 season.

The women’s team is looking for its fourth consecutive national championship, while the men are looking for their first title after falling just short last year with a second-place finish.

“It’s tough to do what we did last year again,” said head coach Jerry Baltes. “We just have to get back to work. We have to replace a few seniors that were important to our success and focus on each individual doing everything they can and getting as good as they can to help the program move forward.”

The Laker women have plenty of talent coming back from last year’s team, led by defending individual national champion and NCAA Division II National Women’s Athlete of the Year Kendra Foley.

Foley raced past the competition at the 2014 nationals with a time of 21:05.8. USTFCCCA All-American Jessica Janecke also returns to the lineup for the Lakers.

“The expectations for our team are always set very high,” Foley said. “We have very high expectations for our incoming freshmen and especially for our returning runners, but more than anything we have the expectation to come to practice every day with a good attitude planning to work hard and have a positive attitude everyday and become a team. And if we do that then our goals will be accomplished and our expectations will be exceeded.”

Senior Jordan Chester, junior Amy Creutz and a whole bunch of newcomers are also looking to be big contributors on this year’s team.

“What happened is in the past. We start each season and each meet as a new beginning,” Janecke said. “We know what victory tastes like, but the mindset we want to have is to stay humble and hungry, and if that happens we will achieve what we have set our goals on.”

The Laker men will be looking to build off of runner-up finishes at nationals in 2013 and 2014. GVSU lost its top runner from last year in Alan Peterson, but GVSU is confident in their depth and returning talent.

“Our goal is to win,” Baltes said. “I feel really good with where our men are coming into the season. We have great depth and experience and very good talent… If they just come in and do well and progress, they can be in a good spot at the end of the year. Just stay focused on the daily process and not get caught up in the end result.”

Junior Bryce Bradley, a 2014 USTFCCCA All-American, posted a time of 31:21.7 at nationals last season, good for a 27th place finish. The Lakers also return senior Chad Cini, another USTFCCCA All-American. Cini finished 36th at nationals last year with a time of 31:27.3.

“The strength of our team this year is how together we are in our depth,” Bradley said. “We have a ton more depth than we have had in years past.”

The Lakers are also expecting big things this year from senior Kyle Flores, junior Brady Selner and redshirt freshman Zach Panning.

“Last year, we were a little disappointed that we came up short,” Cini said. “This year we are really going to get after it, and we have the team focus to do it. We have a lot of guys that are at the same level and can work together well, some talented individuals that can push the limits.”

GVSU will kick off the 2015 season on Sept. 18 at the MSU Spartan Invite.