Cross country teams set school records against top competition in Louisville

Courtesy Photo /

Courtesy Photo /

Garrett Pelican

As any shark attack survivor will attest, the most dangerous foe is the unseen one.

That cruel law of nature held true as the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s cross country teams ambushed several top Division I schools and Division II competitors at the Greater Louisville Classic on a historic Saturday morning in Louisville, Ky.

Led by senior Katherine McCarthy’s 10th-place finish of 17:23, the women claimed first place in their 5k race and combined to post the fastest team time in school history. Junior Tyler Emmorey’s 19th-place time of 24:10 set a new school record in the 8k men’s race en route his team’s third place finish at the meet.

Associate head coach Joe Lynn praised each team for their performances across the board, saying that many of the runners achieved personal records at the meet.

“We couldn’t have asked anything more out of them with how they performed,” he said. “From top to bottom, they were very strong. We went down there with two goals in mind. One was to preview the regional and national course, which was the course we ran today. And two, we wanted to get in some great competition. On the guys side we had eight of the top twelve teams in the nation in Division II, so a lot of the teams we’re going to be seeing at Nationals in December.”

Lynn said the presence of many top Division I programs bolstered the level of competition at the meet.

Senior Megan Maceratini followed McCarthy with a time of 17:29 for 14th place, followed by sophomore Monica Kinney in 22nd place (17:39), senior Kylen Cieslak in 32nd place (17:44), junior Rebecca Winchester in 39th place (17:48) and recent senior transfer Sarah Dugan in 54th (18:03).

In good spirits after her race and her team’s victory, McCarthy said the team knew the flat terrain of the course would offer faster times.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been faster than we are right now,” she said. “Everyone’s doing really well, and we’re just taking it day by day, race by race to get better.”

Lynn praised the women’s team’s depth and attributed some of the team’s success to crucial performances from team leaders.

“Megan did a great job leading us, and Katherine and Rebecca had killer finishes in the last 800 meters or so that really propelled us to victory,” he said. “If they don’t finish the way they did, we don’t finish in first place.”

In the men’s race, junior Anthony Witt – also breaking the university’s 8k record – placed 26th with a time of 24:19, while junior Ryan Toth took 32nd (24:27), junior Paul Zielinski took 70th (24:50) and senior Simon Nyang took 86th (25:01).

Toth, who set a personal record at the meet, said the team had hoped to knock off rival Colorado School of Mines on Saturday but failed to do so by a margin of a few points.

“We’re very confident,” he said. “We’re looking to be the top team in the nation, and we’re going for it this year.”

Lynn said both teams have the requisite experience to succeed at the national level.

“We know what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “We ran that fast today, we know we can run that fast now, so we just have to believe in ourselves and believe in our training.”

In that case, a first and third place finish on Saturday at a course that will serve as the venue for both the regional and national championships bodes well for the Lakers as the postseason draws near.

The men and women’s teams will compete next on Oct. 16 when the Lakers send their top runners to the Penn State Invitational while the rest of the teams compete at Hillsdale College in the Charger Invitational.

Lynn said the Penn State meet presents another opportunity to surprise competitive schools.

“We go down to Louisville and no one knows who Grand Valley State is,” he said. “Miami, Georgia, Georgia Tech – these schools have never heard of us, and we go down there and win on the ladies side and run right up front on the guys side, so it will be kind of the same thing going out to Penn State. A lot of those schools that will be there – Villanova, West Virginia – are big time schools on the East Coast, so it will be a pretty good opportunity for us to represent the university and at the same time get some great competition.”

[email protected]