GV cross country begins first season in two years at Knight Invite


GVL / Meghan Landgren

James Herrick, Staff Writer

On Saturday, Sept. 4, Grand Valley State University’s cross country teams competed at Calvin College for the annual Knight Invitational. This marks the team’s first meet since 2019 after the 2020 outdoor season was canceled. GVSU walked away from the meet with wins in both the men’s 8k and women’s 6k.

The men’s team won the 8k with 57 points, edging out Calvin College who finished with 59. Meanwhile, the women beat Calvin in the 6k to take home first with 45 points to Calvin’s 48.

At the end of the event, the leaderboards were filled with Lakers. For the male 8k race, GVSU had four runners finish inside of the top ten. This group was led by redshirt freshman Daniel Lambert who finished first with a time of 25:05.01. The group of top finishers also included all freshman runners, Adugna Moritz in fourth place with a 25:08.5, Koby Fraaza in seventh place with a 25:14.4, and Caleb Swart in eighth with a 25:16.0 as unattached GVSU athletes. This means they were illegible in team scoring at the event, despite their impressive finishes.

“I was in disbelief; I couldn’t believe it,” Lambert said. “That was my first cross race in over two years. I was in tears. I was hoping I would be near the top guys during the race and hopefully at the end. I didn’t think I was going to do that well. I was hoping to just break 26, maybe get like 25:30 and maybe get top ten– top 15. I didn’t really know what to expect.”

GVSU also saw success in the women’s 6k race where three Lakers finished in the top ten. Freshman Emma Everhart-Deckard finished in fourth with a 22:22.4, followed by junior Molly Schmidt in fifth with a 22:27.7 and freshman Shayna Altvater in eighth with a 22:35.5. Schmidt noted that this meet puts the team in a great place going forward.

“I think this meet puts us in a good spot,” Schmidt said. “Not everyone on the team raced but for the ones that did, this is promising and it gets us excited for what’s ahead.”

In this meet, GVSU sat out a good portion of their starting runners; however, doing this allowed them to get a feeling of where some of the younger runners stand on the roster.

“This meet allowed us to take inventory and get an idea of where we are at right now,” said coach Jerry Baltes.

Another noteworthy aspect of the Knight Invitational was that it was Aaron Watson’s first meet after being promoted to assistant coach. Watson is no new face around the GVSU track programs. This is Watson’s seventh year coaching for GVSU alongside Baltes. He earned his tenure by being the distance coach for the track team and he has worked with the cross country team in previous seasons as well.

“It is just nice to get out there and hear the gun again,” Baltes said.

The cross country team will have that opportunity again when they travel to East Lansing for the Spartan Invitational at Michigan State University on Sept. 17 where they will look to add on to their hot start to the 2021 season.