GVSU posts strong team performance at MSU Spartan Invitational

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Kendra Foley

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Kendra Foley

Danny Schwartz

Grand Valley State cross country competed at the MSU Spartan Invitational Friday, Sept. 16. Overall, GVSU placed 11 men and seven women in the top-50 finishers.

GVSU placed 13 runners inside the top-100 overall in a group of close to 400 participants. GVSU was led by All-American senior Kendra Foley, who took first place in the 6K race with a time of 20:54.

Foley credits her success to the support she received from her team and the Laker faithful.

“For the first half of the race, I had my teammate Gina Patterson next to me, and so that was really helpful,” Foley said. “The two of us are really good at working together. Also, I had teammates, fans and friends all along the whole course. A lot of Division II support each other, especially when we race Division I schools, so that was a lot of help.”

Foley believes staying confident is key to keep winning, both personally and for the team as a whole.

“Personally, I think I just have to work on staying confident and staying tough,” Foley said. “I know the coaches have a lot of faith in me and I have to take that and use that throughout the race. As a team, we’re a pretty young group right now, and so getting the younger girls to believe that they can accomplish great things is important.”

Following Foley was Patterson, who finished in 10th place with a time of 21:37.

Two more Lakers placed in the top-50 for the women. Kelly Haubert, who finished in 23rd with a time of 22:18. In 24th was Stacey Metzger, who posted a time of 22:20.

The Laker men had 12 athletes placed in the top 50 and nine achieved 30th place or higher. Zach Panning took first in the 10K race by a margin of 16 seconds, posting a time of 24:43.

Chris May followed Panning, putting up a time of 24:59 and finishing second. Wuoi Mach placed ninth in Friday’s race and put up a time of 25:11.

Panning attributes much of his success in races to preparation.

“Preparing over the summer with all the guys and having confidence in the training that you’ve done, that’s what really helps,” Panning said. “Have a race plan and stick with it. Our race plan was to get out hard but smart and to let other people do the work as much as you can in the race. For me, that ended up being four miles, and then I picked up the pace and took off from there.”

While the Lakers overall ran well, Panning believes there’s always room for improvement.

“I think we need to improve on staying focused throughout the entire race,” Panning said. “We have a tendency to, after a mile or two, be lackadaisical and get a little soft across the board, myself included. That’s a big thing we need to focus on, because we train hard and I think we can really do a better job of pushing that middle part of the race.”

GVSU coach Jerry Baltes commends both Foley and Panning for their respective top finishes:

“Both of them are really special runners,” Baltes said. “They’ve really established themselves as a couple of the best runners in the country. Overall we did well. We had some first-race jitters and rust-busters, but we’ll work on that, and come championship season, we’ll be ready to go.”

GVSU will head to Louisville, Kentucky to run in the Greater Louisville Classic Saturday, Oct. 1.