Running out of gas

Courtesy Photo /
The womens team had all seven runners place in the top 40 at the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / The women’s team had all seven runners place in the top 40 at the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship

Melanie Huhn

The Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s cross country teams came up a couple of minutes shy of national titles while competing at the NCAA Division II National Championship meet.

On Saturday, the Lakers competed at the Plantes Ferry Athletic Complex course in snowy Spokane, Wash. For the second year in a row, the men finished third with a combined score of 100 points. In second place was Adam State University, which finished
with a score of 69, while Western State University took home the national title with 27 points.

On the men’s side the senior duo of Anthony Witt and Tyler Emmorey led the way for the Lakers, but for the first time this season they did not finish consecutively when they crossed the finish line.

Emmorey, the highest finisher for the Lakers, placed eighth with a time of 31 minutes and 25 seconds, 40 seconds
behind the individual champion from Western State. Witt followed behind placing 15th with a time of 31:46.6. All seven runners scored in the top 50.

The women wrapped up the season in third place in falling to a very competitive Western State and Augustana (S.D.) College squads. Combined, the women scored 104 points, while second-place Western State scored 79 points and Augustanta took the title with 75 points. The Lakers were the only team to place all seven female runners in the top 40.

Leading the way for the Lakers in the women’s race were the young runners. With freshman Rachel Clark being the first to cross the finish in 14th place with a time of 21:48.8, fellow freshmen Allyson Winchester and Callie Clark placed 19th and 20th respectively in the field.

“Our freshmen women did a great job of getting out and setting the tone and finishing strong for their first NCAA meet,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “Our men really ran a solid race for their second third place in a row. Western State simply dominated and no one was beating them today.”

With success in previous championships, the Lakers were confident heading into the race, but when snow flurries
and sub-20-degree weather hit them around race time, their game plan changed.

“I guess the best way to sum it up is mixed emotions,” Baltes said. “I was hoping our seniors would have a chance to go out on top on both sides. The weather was a huge factor but everyone had to deal with it. I felt we were pretty tough throughout the whole race on both sides.”

Throughout the season, the men and women have dealt with always-changing weather conditions but nothing could prepare them for the competition they faced over the weekend.

“Heading into nationals, Jerry told us that that this was one of the deepest fields of talented runners since he has seen since being a coach at Grand Valley for the last 13 years,” Witt said. “We executed our game plan perfectly. Establishing a good start putting ourselves in the position we needed to be in. When the race took off halfway we didn’t answer it the way we wanted it to.”

Despite coming back without the title, Baltes was proud of his seniors and thankful for everything they have given to the program throughout their career as Lakers.

“After crossing the finish line, it didn’t take us long to realize that there are greater things in life,” Witt said. “The men and women’s team have grown extremely close over the years and this season we have had the time our lives. While it’s not a national championship, we are still coming back a family.“

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