Cross country men finish season as national runners-up
For six seniors on Calvin’s men’s cross country team, this was it. The culmination of their celebrated running careers ended at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country course in Terre Haute, Ind., landing Calvin back on the podium for the first time in 5 years. The Knights ran a strong race and were leading by 34 points with 1000m to go. These 1000 meters proved to be brutal though and the Knights came in second, 21 points behind first.
Senior Nick Kramer finished 26th place, earning his 10th All-American Honor in his five year running career at Calvin. This was one of the hardest, as he fought through a femoral stress fracture all season just to be able to run this race.
Senior Job Christiansen had one of the best races of his life, earning his highest nationals finish in his career. He was the 35th runner to cross the line, just squeaking into an All-American spot.
Senior Dan Kerr finished 46th. Within the first 400m Kerr tripped and found himself in almost last place. Fellow senior David Vande Bunte ran alongside him and got him back into the race, saving the team from near disaster. Vande Bunte finished 84th, while senior Matt Vander Roest finished 71st. Vander Roest’s leg was severely injured, but the All-American from last year gutted it out for the team. Senior Greg Whittle was 95th, and junior Sam Kerk rounded out the team in 226th.
Calvin’s 188 points were enough for national runner ups tied with Haverford and 21 points behind the national champions, North Central College. The NCAA doesn’t break ties, so the trophy will be sent to Calvin in the future. UW Lacrosse finished one point behind, taking fourth. Tim Nelson of UW-Stout won the individual title, running nearly the entire race by himself.
Although the team was not able to pull out the win, it took two severe injuries and a fall among the top three runners to keep it from them. When thinking about his career at Calvin, Kerr said emotionally, “North Central College can have their national championships, but I’ll take my Calvin Knights!”
The women’s team finished 18th overall, led by sophomore Kate Ardinger in 100th place. It was her first national meet, and she stepped up on a day when her team needed her. Her emergence at the end of this season has been one of the highlights of the women’s team.
Following Ardinger was freshman McKenzie Diemer in 111th and senior Christine Hartley three places behind. The scoring was completed by the Penning sisters Alyssa and Kimby, in 132nd and 149th. Juniors Alyssa Oram was 153rd and Nicole Michmerhuizen was 220th, both not finishing as high they wanted.
18th place was not what the women’s team was hoping for, ranking as high as 5th in the nation during the year. Looking to next year the women’s team only loses two runners from the top seven, Alyssa Penning and Christine Hartley.
“Up front, we got a little excited — our first two probably got out a little too hard,” said coach Brian Diemer. “Our pack ran strong, and really finished well, that was neat to see. We came up short, but we developed a lot, and this is going to make us better in the future.”
Coaches Al Hoekstra and Brian Diemer finished their 27th season together, seeing through the careers of 15 seniors graduating this year.