Distance runner, senior leader Allie Ludge talks GLIAC Nationals, best memories from GVSU, post-college plans



Holly Bihlman, Staff Writer

As the spring sports season abruptly came to a close last week, the seniors especially are recovering from the heartbreak of their stolen time at Grand Valley State University.

Amidst all this crisis, fifth-year senior Allie Ludge, seems to be taking the change with a positive attitude. After running with the track and field and cross country team for five years, Ludge has had her share of unforgettable moments, record-breaking runs and cherished memories with friends. 

Ludge has certainly made her mark on the history of Grand Valley State University’s program, holding nine current records with two of them new this season. Ludge is most famous for her mile times and distance running during cross country season in the fall, almost always finishing in the top three. But the parts she will miss most are the moments after the successful championships and heartbreaks with her teammates, and all the behind-the-scenes moments spent in practices and on road trips. 

As far as her current state of affairs, Ludge is taking a well-deserved hiatus from her training and the intensity that can come with being a full-time student and athlete. 

 “I’m currently taking some downtime,” Ludge said. “Just kind of acting as if we had nationals and that we’d be adjusting in between seasons, taking a deep breath, before starting up and running again.”

With the upsetting news that the GLIAC Nationals were canceled on the day-of, Ludge had a more uplifting outlook as she reflected on the situation. As the athletes have had some time to recover from their disappointment, they have most definitely taken an appreciation for their teammate’s presence in Birmingham, Alabama two weeks ago.

Some of the younger athletes like John Groendyk, a sophomore this season, mentioned how appreciative they were of Ludge stepping up as a leader and bringing them all together in a time of hardship. Ludge’s impact on the runners will definitely follow them through the rest of their careers as Lakers, and Ludge doesn’t plan on losing touch anytime soon. 

 “They can’t get rid of me that easy, I’m definitely going to have to visit them,” said Ludge.

Her thoughts on the nationals this year followed suit with a lot of other athlete’s perspectives

 “We were all kind of in shock because we were in the world of running and didn’t really realize the intensity of everything going on outside,” Ludge said. “We just didn’t even see that coming, and it was heartbreaking. We had a huge team down there, so we definitely didn’t feel alone, I think it would’ve been harder just being a single athlete down there with no other teammates, but we were all in it together.”

With the season officially coming to a close, Ludge is happy with her last season and feels as though she can be proud of her accomplishments. Even though she didn’t get to end it the way she had hoped, Ludge knows that with the women’s track and field team going into the nationals ranked No. 1, they had every capability to bring home that trophy, and that in itself is satisfying for Ludge. Of course, it would’ve been the perfect end to her last year at Grand Valley, however nothing could take away the time she had dedicated to her team the last four and a half years. 

 “When I think of the past five years I don’t think of the races or the wins, it’s either the celebrations after or the group hugs or the team prayer before,” Ludge said. “It’s just being with those girls and having their support. When I think of nationals this year I don’t think ‘We were runner up in cross country,’ it’s more like, ‘Do you remember the dance party we had after?!’ So it’s really just the time we spent together that I’ll miss and cherish, and hopefully that doesn’t have to end.” 

With this being her final year in undergraduate, her future is opening up to a whole new world of opportunities, so Ludge is starting to think about applying to grad school and her career after everything she has learned and experienced at Grand Valley State. She doesn’t plan to stop running, maybe competing in some road races here and there, but she plans to run mostly with her dog and newlywed husband until she takes off on all her future endeavors.