Cross-country looks forward to “home” meet

GVL / Eric Coulter
Freshman Ahmed Elmi

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter Freshman Ahmed Elmi

Bryce Derouin

For the first time all season, the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s cross country teams won’t have to deal with a long road trip.

GVSU will travel to Grand Rapids Friday to take part in the Michigan Intercollegiate Championship, hosted by Calvin College.

“It’s a great opportunity running close to home,” said head coach Jerry Baltes. “We don’t have too many races in the fall that are close to Grand Valley. It’s a great opportunity for our kids to race in front of friends and family, and it’s a great opportunity to race some of the teams in state.”

The Lakers are coming off strong showings in the Greater Louisville Classic, where GVSU competed against stiff competition that included Division I schools. The women came away with a 13th-place finish, while the men recorded a ninth-place finish. Both the men and the women were the top finishers in Division II.

For this upcoming meet, Baltes is looking for his team to employ a different strategy out of the gates.

“The first couple of races we’ve been working on getting out aggressive and going out hard,” he said. “This week we will probably change it up a little bit and run a little bit more conservative early on and focus on finishing strong. Just a little different twist on things and just see who shows up and is ready to compete.”

The Michigan Intercollegiate Championship is the last meet for GVSU before the GLIAC Championships, Division II Midwest Regional Championship and the Division II National Championship. The Lakers are looking at this meet as an opportunity to refine certain things before their run of championship meets.

“We only get to race seven people on the line at GLIAC’s,” said junior Joe Graves. “With the depth that our team has, this is a pretty big determining factor in who will be racing in the varsity race at GLIAC’s.”

GVSU’s familiarity with the course at Calvin will be a strength for them Friday. The Lakers have ran the course before — in the season-opening Calvin Invitational — and they are looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s really nice because we have the advantage of not having to drive super far and we know the course,” said junior Molly Slavens. “We’ve run it already so it’s comforting knowing what we’re up against and it makes us feel better prepared than going somewhere else. It’s exciting to be able to race close to home.”

With three cross country meets under their belts, GVSU feels comfortable heading into the home stretch of their season. They hope that the chemistry they’ve made throughout the season will help carry them.

“I think we are very comfortable with where we are at,” Graves said. “We definitely have a lot of improvement we can do still. With the camaraderie we’ve built so far, and the overall togetherness of the team, it’s really going to carry us through the championship season along with all the great training we put in.”
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