GVSU cross country teams start 2015 campaign

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Jordan Chester

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Jordan Chester

Andy Smith

The Grand Valley State cross country teams saw a lot to be happy with as the Lakers opened their seasons at the Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Michigan.

GVSU competed against schools from Divisions I, II and III, and raced to normal Laker standards, placing runners in the top 20 on both sides.

“This was a very solid meet for us being our first meet of the year, especially since it has been a while since a lot of our girls have competed in a race,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “We were pushing through the pain of the race. There were plenty of positives we can take from this race, but there is also plenty of room for improvement.”

Senior Jordan Chester led the three-time defending national champion Lakers, who were without the services of All-American Kendra Foley. Chester recorded a time of 22:16, good for an 18th-place finish.

“We came out strong for it being everyone’s first race of the season. It wasn’t our best race, but there is lots of room for improvement by far,” Chester said. “Being in a race like this helps us to get out of the gates and it helps us to relearn the experience of a race and gives the freshmen who haven’t raced before a taste of the competition.”

Senior Jessica Janecke and sophomore Jenna Klynstra crossed the finish line soon after Chester. Janecke finished 24th with a time of 22:26, and Klynstra came away with a 34th-place finish with a time of 23:01. Alison Work finished in 51st-place, Rachel Bendewald placed 65th, Kelly Haubert finished in 84th-place, and Katelyn Cliff finished in 100th among a field of 318 runners to round out the day for the Laker women.

GVSU’s men had seven runners finish in the top 20, including two top 10 finishes on the day.

The Lakers were led by redshirt freshman Zach Panning, who, in his first college race, raced to a seventh-place finish with a time of 25:13.

“Zach really stood out for us today, he will do good things for the team this year and for the next four year,” said senior Kyle Flores. “He is young but has learned really fast and is ready for the big stage for us and it is going to be very exciting to see what he accomplishes this year for the team.”

Flores finished 11 seconds and three places behind Panning, crossing the finish line with a time of 25:24 in 10th. Senior Chad Cini came away with a 13th-place finish (25:27) and sophomore Wuoi Mach finished in 15th (25:30).

Juniors Mitch Wilkins and Bryce Bradley and sophomore Trevor Sharnas all finished with times of 25:33 to take 17th, 18th and 20th places, respectively.

GVSU will be back in action Oct. 3, when the Lakers travel to Louisville for the Greater Louisville Classic.