GVSU cross country men, women place first at NCAA Midwest Regionals

GVL / Courtesy - Alan Steible 
2016 Midwest Regional Championships

Alan Steible

GVL / Courtesy – Alan Steible 2016 Midwest Regional Championships

Danny Schwartz

The Grand Valley State men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Evansville, Indiana on Saturday for the NCAA Midwest Regionals, and came away victorious. Both teams finished in first place, advancing to the NCAA National Championships.

The women’s side finished in first with a score of 43 and an average time of 20:55:37, while the men’s side finished in first with a score of 45 and an average time of 30:45:14.

For the women’s side, GVSU’s Kendra Foley finished third overall with a time of 20:19:57. Stacey Metzger finished sixth overall with a time of 20:57:34.

“We went into the race wanting to keep the pack together and I think we did that really well today,” Metzger said. “We all ran with each other, for each other, and throughout the race that helped a lot knowing all of our teammates are right there with us.”

Finishing right behind Metzger was Amy Creutz, who took eighth overall with a final time of 20:58:08. Kelly Haubert finished 12th overall with a time of 21:09:07. Other top-20 finishes for GVSU include Rachel Bendewald at 14th, Jessica Gockley at 16th and Kaylie Rhynard at 17th.

This was a change of pace for the men, as they ran a 10 kilometer race here instead of the usual eight kilometers.

For the men’s side, GVSU’s Chris May finished fourth overall with a time of 30:28.95.

“For myself personally, I’m a 10K runner, so it was like getting back onto a bicycle that you haven’t ridden in a while and it feels great and it’s something you missed,” May said. “For the team as a whole, the guys did a great job of stepping up. We had three guys that ran their first 10K and they ran phenomenally. I’m really proud of my teammates and how they were able to handle that challenge.”

Finishing right behind May was Zach Panning, who took fifth overall with a time of 30:29:15. Kevin Black finished in ninth place with a time of 30:49:67. Other top-20 finishes for GVSU include Bryce Bradley finishing 13th overall, Trevor Sharnas finishing 14th overall, and Josh Steible finishing 20th.

GVSU cross country coach Jerry Baltes was proud of his team’s ability to execute the game plan:

“Our focus was on racing well enough to advance and then not necessarily having an all-out effort, especially on the men’s side,” Baltes said. “We didn’t even run Nate Orndorf or Wuoi Mach as we kept them at home and got them an extra training session to get them ready for the national meet in two weeks.”

Redshirt freshman Alberto Gomez and Josh Steible both ran their first regional races to get them some experience, and both had solid races.

May believes one thing GVSU does so well compared to other teams is knowing they have to live a certain lifestyle outside of practice and events, in order to be where they want to be in the postseason.

“Anyone can just show up and work out, but it takes a lot of focus and commitment to a cause and a really quality environment within the team to support each other and living the lifestyle conducive to accomplishing our goals,” May said.

Following the successful regionals, GVSU is very optimistic about nationals. They know they have a chance to do something really special if all the cards fall into place.

GVSU hopes to capture a national title in its final event of the season at the NCAA National Championship Saturday, Nov. 19 in St. Leo, Florida.