GVSU men’s and women’s cross country teams win NCAA Regional Championships, advance to nationals

GVL / Courtesy - Al Steible

GVL / Courtesy - Al Steible

D'Angelo Starks

Following their dominant performances in the GLIAC Tournament Saturday, Oct. 28, the Grand Valley State men’s and women’s cross country teams each went on to capture the NCAA Regional Championship Saturday, Nov. 4, in Cedarville, Ohio. They will now advance to the NCAA National Championship.

Weather and the course location can be huge factors in the outcome of the event. Luckily, it was a nice day to run in Cedarville, and Coach Jerry Baltes was pleased that outside factors did not affect the course conditions. 

“The course is a good cross country course, all grass,” Baltes said. “Some good footing, a little soft because they got a fair amount of rain the last week or so. Slight uphills and downhills, but nothing too brutal. I think we handled it fine and competed well.” 

The men’s team finished first with a total score of 58, while the second-place team, Southern Indiana University, finished with score of 72. 

The top GVSU finisher on the men’s side was senior Wuoi Mach, who finished fifth overall with a time of 31:33.5. Zach Panning finished right behind Mach, placing sixth overall with a time of 31:33.7, just 0.2 seconds behind Mach. Finishing the Laker leaderboard was Sean Fontana, who completed the race in 11th place with a time of 31:42.2. The times came from an 8-kilometer race format.

Being regional champions carries the Lakers into the National Championship run, and Fontana feels good about where his team currently ranks.

“It feels really good,” he said. “In terms of how we feel about running regionals, we feel like we took a big step forward towards achieving our goals in two weeks, but we aren’t going to get complacent or overwhelmed because we know it’s just a stepping stone towards the national meet.”  

The Lakers’ men’s team put forth a strong effort across the board, finishing the day with seven of the top 25 runners. 

The women’s team also left Ohio as regional champions. The Lakers finished with a team score of 46, while the second-place team, Hillsdale College, finished with a score of 81. All five of the top-five runners on the women’s team finished in the top 15, and six of the top-seven runners finished in the top 25. 

The top finisher for the women’s team was Kelly Haubert, who finished fourth with a time of 21:39.5. Another top-15 finisher were Gina Patterson, who finished seventh with a time of 21:50.1. Directly behind Patterson was Allie Ludge with a time of 21:52.4, while Stacey Metzger finished 12th with a time of 21:57.4. The final top-15 runner for the Lakers was Megan Caltagirone, finishing 15th with a time of 21:59.5. 

Baltes talked about the team’s approach to this race and how they tried to put themselves in a good position going into nationals. 

“Our goal and focus was simply to run a race that will move us on to NCAA Championships,” Baltes said. “So, we did not go to the well. We ran what I would say was 94- to 96-percent effort and left some gas in the tank so we could come off of it healthy and ready to train the second half of this week to get ready for Evansville in two weeks.” 

This regional was not simply just another win for the Lakers. This weekend marked another championship for two teams that have had historic runs in this tournament. The win marked the 17th straight time the women’s cross country team has won the Regional Championship, and it was also the 16th straight Regional Championship for the men’s team. 

The Lakers look to continue their dominance in the NCAA National Championship in Evansville, Indiana, Saturday, Nov. 18.