Lakers show out in Spartan Invite as GV cross country places top-two


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Ermias Stewart, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s cross country teams had a successful start to their fall season in the Spartan Invitational as the men’s team placed first and the women’s finished second overall. 

GVSU head coach Jerry Baltes was pleased with the results of his teams, stating that both sides of the cross country program are “focused on training at a high level” in order to compete for a back-to-back championship.

The men’s team finished with a score of 45 points, dominating their opponents and overcoming three NCAA Division I opponents: Cincinnati (second place, 89 points), Michigan State University (third place, 115 points) and Kent State University (fourth place, 162 points). 

Senior Tanner Chada was the first of 279 runners to cross the finish line in the men’s 8k, posting a time of 24:03. Junior Andrew Hylen (eighth place) and redshirt freshman Koby Fraaza (ninth place) were also major contributors for the men’s team, crossing the finish line with Fraaza on the heels of Hylen and finishing times of 24:49.22 and 24:49.50.

In his second season with the Lakers, Fraaza was a part of the roster that competed and secured the 2021 NCAA Cross Country National Championship. Even though a handful of the champions that were staples for the success of the men’s program are no longer on the team, Fraaza believes this instilled a competitive spirit amongst this year’s roster.

“We lost a lot of good guys last year, so I think this was a big confidence booster and proving that we have depth,” Fraaza said. 

Other notable men’s runners were redshirt freshman Brock Wooderson (15th), sophomores Samuel Martens (16th), Scott Spaanstra (23rd), Caleb Futter (27th), Jason Millis (30th) and senior Samuel Baustert (24th). 

The women’s team also put forth a solid performance in their second meet of the season, running away with a second-place overall finish (71 points) in a 19-team invite that consisted of 231 total runners.

Junior Natalie Graber led her squad with a fourth-place finish in the women’s 6k, clocking in at 21:27. 

Junior Klaudia O’Malley (14th, 22:04), sophomore Taryn Chapko (18th, 22:14) and redshirt freshman Madison Ebright (21st, 22:21) were the next three Lakers to cross the finish line for the team, allowing for GVSU to make a strong push and lock themselves into contention for another chance at the national title. 

Redshirt freshman Hannah Bodine (122nd, 24:27) mentioned that nerves are certainly a factor prior to the start of any invite and that individual Lakers and the team as a collective always focus on not only preparing themselves physically but mentally and emotionally as well in order to drown out internal distractions.

“We do everything we can to prepare for it, so I know that I’m ready coming into the meet,” Bodine said. “Coach always (stresses the importance of) doing the little things as well, like stretching, recovery and being mindful of our bodies.”

The Lakers’ next scheduled invite is at the Live in Lou XC Classic on Saturday, Oct. 1.