Cross country finishes strong at Spartan Invitational

GVL / Eric Coulter
Senior Jake Isaacson placed eigth in the Spartan Invitational. Isaacsons time of 25:04 was the highest among Division II athletes.

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter Senior Jake Isaacson placed eigth in the Spartan Invitational. Isaacson’s time of 25:04 was the highest among Division II athletes.

Brady Fredericksen

While last week’s races at the Knight Invitational at Calvin College served as a season-opener for the younger runners on the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s cross-country teams, this week’s Spartan Invitational served as one for the upperclassmen — except one with a little more competition.

The race, held at Michigan State University, included Division I opponents from Big Ten schools and proved to be a challenge for both teams as the men placed three in the top 20, while the women finished with three in the top 35.

The success on both sides came, partially, because those top runners who sat last week got into the flow, but also because the consistency of the season has gotten going.

“Obviously, it’s tasking on the body to race back to back, two weeks in a row, but I think it’s really beneficial” said junior Kelcie Severson, last week’s GLIAC Runner of the Week. “It increases your fitness, it takes your experience and it’s closer in timespan, so typically we’ll have a better outcome.”

Consistency from week to week proved to be the key in the men’s race for GVSU. Led by Isaacson, the Lakers found a way to shake off the early season rust and push themselves into the top 10 for much of the race. Isaacson finished first for GVSU, placing eighth with a time of 25 minutes, four seconds, good for the top time of Division II runners.

Junior Josh Moskalewski and sophomore Alan Peterson also submitted solid races, finishing with times of 25:16 and 25:21, respectively to wrap up GVSU’s presence in the top 20.

“Our guys got out and compete real well,” Baltes said. “At one point, we had about five of the top ten guys in a nice pack, which faded a little bit over the last mile, but that’s going to pay off down the road. Just getting used to running, getting out faster and more aggressive, so I like that our guys are not afraid to get out and mix it up with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan.”

With young runners racing last week, Baltes said that the fact that they don’t have the same kind of on-course experience as the older members of the team, they still have some learning and improving to do as the weeks progress.

Sophomore Hannah Osborn led the way for GVSU with a time of 21 minutes, 53 seconds, good for the top spot for Division II runners. Just trailing Osborn was freshman Jesseca Janecke, who finished with a time of 22:07, just ahead of sophomore Allyson Winchester who finished in 33rd place with a time of 22:18.

“I think it was really important for our sophomores, our redshirt freshman, to get experience racing in uniform for the first time, just racing in college for the first time,” said Severson, who finished with a time of 22:30.

“For a lot of our front ladies, it was our first race of the year,” Baltes said. “You just never know what you’re going to get in the first race of the year. I mean the feel, how you’re going to handle once you get into the middle of the race. We’re just looking for some good, hard, tough efforts and for the most part, we thought we got that.”

The success on the course was the more exciting part of the day for Baltes and the team, but the staff stayed five hours after the race to recruit, an aspect of the season Baltes cites as very important.

“It’s great today that a lot of these kids got to see our teams race and be competitive and then we got to see them race,” Batles said. “We’ll be on the road tomorrow (recruiting) … it’s a very important part of being successful at this level.”

GVSU will be off until Sept. 29 when they head to Kentucky for the Greater Louisville Classic.

[email protected]