GVSU cross country runner Allie Ludge already making strides after redshirt season



Briana Lewis

The Grand Valley State women’s cross country team received a pleasant surprise from sophomore Allie Ludge while competing at the Greater Louisville Classic Saturday, Sept. 30.

Ludge led the women’s team in the Gold Race, finishing in first place with a time of 17:33.3 in her first career collegiate race, becoming a major factor in the Lakers winning the team title.

This independent achievement prompted Ludge to be named the HERO Sport Division II Women’s Cross Country HERO of the Week, announced Friday, Oct. 6. 

This award recognizes the best individual performances of the week for NCAA sports. Ludge was nominated, among seven other athletes, for the recognition. Ludge’s performance as a runner contributed to the Lakers’ overall strong lead of the competition.

Jerry Baltes, who is in his 18th year as the head coach for both the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams, believed Ludge’s performance and overall positivity influenced the team moving forward.

“She was our top runner,” Baltes said. “So the fact that she led and finished strong in a very strong field was very positive for our team in that point of the season.”

Even though this was Ludge’s first race of the season and career with the Lakers, she is no stranger to track and field. Ludge prepped at Kenowa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Since then, she has been setting records. Ludge finished her last moments in high school competition placing sixth in the 800-meter and eighth in the 3,200-meter relay at the 2015 MHSAA Division I State Finals.

Luckily, Grand Valley State kept an eye out for Ludge during her time in high school, and she ended up continuing her career on the women’s cross country and track and field team.

“We recruited her out of high school,” Baltes said. “(We) followed her throughout her high school career, got her on campus for a visit and sold the program, and at the end of the day, she felt this was the best place for her to reach her full potential as an athlete.”

Ludge is ready to be alongside her Lakers in the upcoming races after going through rigorous training and reaching a competitive level. The 2016-17 season wasn’t an easy season for Ludge, but she pushed through and became stronger.

Coach Baltes noticed her improvements as a runner since joining the team.

“So I think she’s just over time come to learn her body and understand what she needs to do to put herself in a position to be successful, getting strong physically and aerobically and mentally to handle the rigors of training and the stress of the long season,” he said.

Ludge has been resting and getting prepared to run in her second race of the season. She may not be seen often, but when she is, it’s a memorable event. GVSU can prepare to see Ludge sooner than later.

“The expectation is she’ll be back in the mix this weekend at the National Championship conferences up in … Northern Michigan,” Baltes said. “And we’ll go from there and evaluating the rest of the season whether she races in regionals or we try to focus and have her ready for NCAA Championships.”

Ludge and the GVSU cross country team will be back on the track field for the GLIAC Championship in Harvey, Michigan, this Saturday, Oct. 21.