‘Finally’: Women’s cross country wins National Championship

Courtesy Photo / Karla Vanderbaan
Cross Country Regionals

Courtesy Photo / Karla Vanderbaan Cross Country Regionals

Lauren Fitch

Louisville, Ky. – The Grand Valley State University cross country teams proved themselves against the nation’s top competition as both the men and women recorded their highest finish in the program’s history at the NCAA Division II National Championship race in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday.

The day was especially memorable for the women as they claimed the National Championship title, despite the freezing temperature and snow-covered course.

“I’m just really, really happy for our student athletes- the seven that raced and the 11 that traveled with us- and the whole team,” said head coach Jerry Baltes. “I’m really just excited for them and excited for our alums who have all had something to do with this. I’m just thankful that it came together.”

The victory was a long time coming for Baltes, who has been the head coach for 12 years. The team finished with a heart-wrenchingly close second place at the 2009 National Championships, losing by eight points to Adams State after top-runner Megan Maceratini collapsed a few hundred meters before the finish.

This time around Maceratini and the rest of the Lakers finished strong for a team total of 66 points, and Adams State fell to third with 98 points. Western State finished second with 95 points.

“Finally!” said associate head coach Joe Lynn of the victory. “A few minutes after it was pretty emotional. We knew if we came out and took care of business today, we were the best team in the country.”

Katherine McCarthy led the GVSU runners across the national finish line for the second year in a row with a time of 21 minutes 10.6 seconds for the 6k course. She finished fourth overall.

Maceratini (21:34.3) was next in for the Lakers, followed by Rebecca Winchester (21:50.9), Kylen Cieslak (21:56.9) and Julia Nowak (22:01.0) rounding out the top five. Monica Kinney and Jessie Vickers also competed for the Lakers.

The men’s team was also excited about their performance after improving from a fifth-place finish last year. GVSU’s Anthony Witt and Tyler Emmorey ran side-by-side throughout the 10k race before Witt pulled away to finish 15th overall with a time of 31:13.0. Emmorey crossed the line in 31:13.9 for 17th place.

“(The men) have sort of been overshadowed,” Baltes said. “They had a great effort. They had ran very competitive and put themselves in a very good position.”

The men’s team scored 135 points, which was good for third place. Adams State won with 57 points, and Western State came in second with 102.

After Witt and Emmorey, Paul Zielinski crossed the line in 31:29.9 ahead of Ryan Toth (31:38.0) and Stephen Fuelling (31:39.9). Jeffrey Nordquist and Larry Julson also competed for GVSU.

Saturday marked the third time GVSU had run on the course in Louisville this season after the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships on Nov. 20 and the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 2.

“We’ve had a lot of great student athletes come through to lay the ground work- to lay the foundation- a lot of great assistant coaches, great administration,” Baltes said. “It’s not a one-person, one-team entity. It’s a total commitment for everyone involved … I’m thankful that we got this one today.”