XC teams win 12th, 13th straight regional titles

GVL / Archive
Junior Steve Krauss

GVL / Archive Junior Steve Krauss

Tate Baker

The Grand Valley State University’s men and women’s cross country teams have owned the NCAA Division II Midwest Region since 2000, tallying 12 straight regional championships for the men and 13 straight for the women.

“This was a big step that we had to take before getting to Nationals,” head coach Jerry Baltes said. “Both our men and women’s teams came in this weekend prepared and ready to go.”

This weekend, the Lakers were looking to extend those streaks and further prepare themselves for the ultimate goal—the NCAA Division II National Championships.

“We put a lot of work in leading up this point, (and) everyone was set to go once it was time to compete,” senior Courtney Brewis said. “We have a lot of experience throughout the program so looking ahead to Nationals wasn’t really an issue.”

In the women’s 6k race, the Lakers were able to claim their 13th straight regional championship behind the strengths of sophomore Jessica Janecke, who finished in second place overall with a time of 21:32.

“(Janecke) has really put together a great season for us, which I expect to carry over the rest of the season,” Baltes said. “It’s always great when the upperclassmen lead by example.”

Junior Allyson Winchester finished sixth overall with a time of 21:41, and Brewis (seventh, 21:43) was able to join in the top 10, ultimately solidifying the regional championship.

“It’s always great to see that many of us finish close to the top,” Brewis said. “You are always going to have success when you have three or four teammates (building) off of each other’s momentum.”

The men followed suit and claimed their 12th straight regional title, edging the University of Southern Indiana by nine points.

“I think everyone can be happy with how they ran this weekend,” junior Brent Showerman said. “Our collective effort is what brought us (here).”

The men had a second-place finish of their own, as senior Alan Peterson was the runner-up of the men’s 10k race, finishing with a time of 31:20. Showerman joined Peterson in the top 10, finishing seventh with a time of 31:24.

“We are going to enjoy this right now, but we still have a lot of work to do before we can be satisfied with ourselves,” Showerman said. “Hopefully we will be healthy and ready to go in a couple of weeks.”

Freshman Chris May finished with the fastest time among all freshmen and was able to post a time of 32:02, finishing in 12th place. Kyle Flores and Chad Cini also finished in the top 20 with times of 32:06 and 32:13, respectively.

“It’s not every day that a true freshman has that big of a contribution,” Baltes said. “The effort we had from the entire team really pushed us ahead this weekend.”

The Division II National Championships will take place on Nov. 23 in Spokane, Wash.