GVSU senior shoots to be part of fourth national title

GVL / Courtesy - Jordan Chester
Jordan Chester

GVL / Courtesy – Jordan Chester Jordan Chester

Andy Smith

Few college athletes get the chance to be part of a national championship-winning team.

On Saturday, Jordan Chester will compete for her fourth straight team national championship as a member of the Grand Valley State women’s cross country squad, which has won three consecutive titles to date. The NCAA Division II National Championship meet is set for 11 a.m. in Joplin, Missouri.

“It would be such a crazy experience to accomplish this feat on Saturday,” Chester said. “I know this weekend is going to be quite the challenge to get that fourth title, but I know we are capable of it and just have to make sure we stay in the right mindset. If we are able to accomplish this, it will be one of the greatest moments of my life and something really special that I will always be able to hold with such a great group of ladies.”

Chester is a fifth-year senior from Valparaiso, Indiana, where she starred in cross country at Boone Grove High School. She carried her high school success to GVSU, where she is looking to become a three-time USTFCCCA All-American. Chester has earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors four times, and is looking to be named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic team for a fourth time.

“I have had a phenomenal experience here and it has been great to be a part of something so special. The whole team atmosphere here is awesome and something that I never really had in high school,” she said. “To have it here and at such a high level is great, and I couldn’t have asked for more. If this is my last time that I am competing at this level, then there is no place I would rather have it than at GVSU.”

Chester has been a picture of leadership and consistency over her time as a Laker. During five years as a member of the cross country program, Chester has blossomed into a vocal presence and an example for new runners, as she once was herself.

“(Chester) is really feisty, loud and relentless, a true competitor,” said Jess Janecke, Chester’s roommate and fellow fifth-year senior. “She has been a solid foundation for people to follow, she balances a lot on her plate and keeps life and running in perspective. She understands what it means to fight for something bigger than herself.

“This season we have continued to feed off of each other and it has made our journey here a lot more special. Just knowing that she is one of the seven toeing the line really calms me down and I couldn’t imaging these past five years without her.”

Chester has taken GVSU’s powerhouse success and applied it to her individual efforts. Like most of the team, Chester focuses more on the quality of the miles than the quantity of the miles she runs.

In textbook leader form, Chester credits her teammates for her success.

“I couldn’t imagine running as fast as I have, or even doing as well as I have, without having my teammates pushing me every day. My biggest key in terms of training is listening to my body. If it feels good, I’ll push a little harder and just see how it wants to roll each day,” she said.

Chester finished in 34th place at the national championship meet last year, and 40th place at the title meet in 2013. Judging by her past body of work and success, Chester looks to have another quality finish at her final collegiate meet.

“Jordan is really even-keel, and she does a great job balancing academics with athletics,” said head coach Jerry Baltes. “She is very motivated and very driven, we know when the gun goes off she will compete to the best of her ability, always improving and giving a great effort, which gives her very positive results.”