GVSU cross country competes against top programs in Greater Louisville Classic

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Sports Information

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Sports Information

D'Angelo Starks

The Grand Valley State men’s and women’s cross country teams were in Louisville, Kentucky, participating in the Greater Louisville Classic Saturday, Sept. 30.

Competing on the road, the Lakers faced a tough task taking on a field that consisted of mostly Division I cross country programs. Although it was a daunting undertaking, the Lakers left an impression with their performance. 

In the men’s field, the Lakers had two top-50 finishers. Senior Wuoi Mach, who finished ninth overall and set a school record, finished with a time of 23:40.85. 

Mach was pleased knowing he had set the school time record.

“It feels pretty good,” Mach said. “The goal was to go in there and try to put up a time that would allow me to compete. Knowing some of the great athletes that have come through here and to have my time be the best one is pretty good.”

Teammate Enae Woldemichael finished 47th in the overall standings with a time of 24:30.50. 

Overall, the men finished as a team in ninth overall out of 42 teams and in first overall out of all competing Division II programs.

Things were a bit more tough on the women’s side. The women’s team had no runners finish in the top 50 in the overall rankings. 

However, the Lakers had two top-100 finishers in Allie Ludge, who finished in 60th with a time of 17:33.25, and Stacey Metzger, finishing with a time of 17:43.04.

The Laker’s top women’s finisher, Ludge, couldn’t be disappointed with her season-opening performance.

“This was my first race of the season,” she said. “I didn’t race at Michigan State, so for me I wanted to start out on a positive note and start my season strong. I wanted to work together with my teammates to put ourselves in a good position.” 

Facing off against established and acclaimed Division I programs may be daunting to most Division II cross country teams. However, GVSU men’s and women’s cross country coach Jerry Baltes believes there’s a certain motivation behind competing against Division I schools early in the season.

“The idea is to put ourselves in a challenging competitive situation that will set us up to have success in the postseason,” Baltes said. “This field was one of the most competitive in the country. I think it will help us immensely getting our kids in the right frame of mind and focused when the big meets start to come around.”

With the positives also comes room for improvement. Baltes has narrowed down some key aspects the team needs to improve on in order to finish with better times as a team.

“We have to get out early in the race and get ourselves in a better position early on,” Baltes said. “Another thing we need to do a better job of is grouping up and closing gaps in a race, ultimately closing the gap between our five runner and our two runner to make that gap as small as possible. The main thing is trying to get as good as we can and progress throughout the season and reach our full potential. 

“Ultimately, we want to compete for the conference championship and an NCAA championship, but we can’t sit around and focus on that.”

Ludge agreed with her coach on the team’s expectations and how they could achieve their goals.

“We have high expectations for ourselves when it comes to the end of the year,” Ludge said. “I believe we have a strong and deep team this year that will allow us to reach those goals.”

The GVSU cross country team continues their season with the Lansing Invitational Friday, Oct. 6, and the Conference Crossover in Romeoville, Illinois, this Saturday, Oct. 7.