Laker men, women dominate Conference Crossover meet

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Kyle Flores

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Kyle Flores

Andy Smith

The Grand Valley State men’s and women’s cross country teams have reason to feel good about themselves going into the 2015 GLIAC Cross Country Championships in two weeks.

Both Laker squads raced to first place overall at the Conference Crossover meet in Romeoville, Illinois on Saturday morning.

On the men’s side, it was nearly as dominant a performance as possible. The Lakers had nine runners place in the top 10 finishers, and 11 in the top 12. GVSU’s meet-winning 19 points blew away the runner-up score of 90 from Northwest Missouri.

The GVSU men were ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA Division II Regional and National polls heading in the match, and didn’t do anything to dispel those rankings.

“We took a really nice step forward as a team today, we executed the race plans very well, and were able to accomplish the new things that we had been working on all week in practice.” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “We had 13 guys rolling together for half of the race, we got out aggressive at the beginning and the pack of runners worked together great, and built positive momentum for us going forward.”

For the third time this fall season, redshirt freshman Zach Panning led the Lakers. Panning finished in first place overall, posting a time of 24:11.10 – a full three seconds ahead of runner-up Alex Cushman from Indianapolis.

The next 10 finishers were all GVSU racers. Chris May, Kyle Flores, Wuoi Mach, Brady Selner, Mitch Wilkins, Bryce Bradley, Trevor Sharnas, Chad Cini, Ricky Perez and Kousei Yajima finished third through 12th in the meet.

“We ran very well as a team, and we are also very excited that we were able to execute the game plan we had as a team coming into the meet today,” Selner said. “We wanted to push the first mile really hard, then we worked well as a group and this allowed us to take a step in the right direction as a team.”

The No. 3 nationally ranked Laker women also earned a convincing win in the meet. Gina Patterson, Jess Janecke and Jordan Chester finished second through fourth overall, as GVSU posted 26 points – a wide margin ahead of the 69 points from second-place Northern Michigan.

Patterson improved on her stellar start to her Laker career, finishing in second with a time of 21:18.65. Janecke (21:32.56) and Chester (21:37.74) pulled in after Patterson, as the trio got the Lakers in good position to secure the win.

Sophomore Jenna Klynstra and junior Alison Work crossed the finish line in eighth and ninth place, securing five top 10 finishers for GVSU.

Kelly Hauberts turned in a 17th place finish with a time of 22:40.12, and Amy Creutz finished 18th with a time of 22:42.72. Mary Kostielney finished 26th, Rachel Bendewald came in 28th, Sarah Cullip earned 32nd and Katie Shaheen rolled in at 34th the finish the day for GVSU.

“We ran really well. We ran together very well as a team today, which was our goal going into the meet,” Chester said. “Having such a great meet today gives our girls a lot of confidence moving forward. It showed the girls on the team that they can race with the top girls and it was a positive step in the right direction for us.”

The Lakers squads now have a week off to prepare for the GLIAC Championships in Milford, Michigan, which is being hosted by Wayne State on Oct. 24. The GVSU women are looking for their 15th straight title, and the men are looking to be the champions for a 14th straight year.