Cross country’s youth get their chance on Saturday

Tate Baker

When the gun sounds at 10 a.m. on Saturday, a new era of Grand Valley State University cross-country will begin.
Although seniors like All-Americans Stephen Fueling and Monica Kinney will not be competing, the Lakers younger talent will have a chance to show on the course.

“The first couple of races are key to get a good view on the younger kids that are in the program,” said GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes. “It’s the first big stage for them, something they have been training for the entire summer.”

The men’s team will feature a trio of redshirt freshman in Spencer Pajeau, Joe Duff, and Ahmed Eimi. For these student athletes, it will be their first chance to represent GVSU in a race, something that senior Josh Moskalewski says is an honor in its own right.

“There’s a definite sense of pride when we step on the line and you have the feeling that everyone is gunning for us,” Moskalewski said. “It’s also a great feeling when our goal is to win a National Championship and everyone else’s goal is to beat Grand Valley.”

As for the women, young stars are frequent and often. Baltes said that redshirt freshman Ann Marie Arseneau and true freshman Allison Work could very easily be standouts for this year’s squad, which contains 15 members who are either redshirt or true freshmen.
Kinney may be more excited than anyone to see her younger teammates get their careers started on Saturday at the Knight invitational in Grand Rapids.

“This is a great chance for our freshmen to prove what they can do,” she said. “When you work as hard as we did this summer, with a mixture of leadership from our upper classmen and coaches, it will be hard for our younger girls not to succeed.” GVSU will be aiming for its 12th consecutive NCAA Midwest Regional Title on the women’s side and its 11th consecutive NCAA Midwest Regional Title for the men.

Having that to follow brings a tremendous amount of pressure — something that Baltes says his athletes look forward to.
“Its always exciting to see the freshmen get their careers going,” Baltes said. “I expect many of our freshmen to have breakout years, it should reflect all the work they put in this summer.”
The butterflies will be floating in the pits of the newcomers’ stomachs Saturday as many of them will kick off their careers close to home at Calvin College.

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