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Fall sports recap: men's cross wins national title
Men's Cross Country Team with trophy
The men's cross country team celebrates their NCAA Division III national championship.

The Calvin men’s cross country team completed a historic year, winning MIAA, Great Lakes Regional and NCAA Division III titles. Under the leadership of coaches Brian Diemer and Al Hoekstra, Calvin served notice that it would be a team to contend with. Calvin finished third at the Wisconsin-Parkside Invi-tational, just five points out of first place and more than 80 points ahead of defending national champion Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

At the October 18 Wisconsin-Oshkosh Invitational, Calvin battled the host Titans to a first-place tie of 36 points. Two weeks later, at the MIAA Championships hosted by Albion at the Whiffletree Golf Course in Marshall, Calvin posted a perfect score — only the fourth in MIAA history — as the Knights took the top six spots and nine of the top 10. Junior Hendrik Kok (Lynden, Wash.) led the way with a first-place time of 25:08. He was followed by teammates Kris Koster (Grand Rapids) in second (25:18), senior Dave Haagsma (Grand Rapids) in third (25:20), senior Matt Edwards (Grand Blanc, Mich.) in fourth (25:23), senior Tim Avery (Rochester, N.Y.) in fifth (25:24) and freshman Tim Finnegan (Los Alamos, N.M.) in sixth (25:31). Also finishing in the top 10 from Calvin were sophomore Jeff Engbers (Whitinsville, Mass.) in eighth (25:46), junior Andy Yazzie (Rehoboth, N.M.) in ninth (25:49) and senior Brian Paff (National City, Calif.) in 10th (25:50).

The MIAA title was Calvin’s 17th straight, which ranks as the second-longest championship streak in MIAA athletic history.

Koster and Haagsma shared the MIAA’s Most Valuable Runner award and were named to the All-MIAA first team. Also named to the All-MIAA first team were Edwards, Avery, Finnegan, Engbers and Yazzie.

At the Great Lakes Regional meet on November 15 in Hanover, Ind., Calvin again posted a perfect score of 15 points, becoming just the second team in NCAA III history to sweep the top five spots at the Great Lakes Regional meet. Kok led the charge on a mud-splattered course, with a first-place time of 25:32, to capture his second straight Great Lakes Regional title. Kok was then named Great Lakes Regional Athlete of the Year for the second straight season. Taking second for the Knights was Haagsma, with a time of 25:37. Koster took third (25:39), Avery fourth (25:41) and Finnegan fifth (25:41), as the Knights posted a remarkable time spread of just nine seconds between its first and fifth runners. Edwards was close behind in eighth (25:48), while Engbers was 16th (26:08). All seven of Calvin’s finishers landed spots on the Great Lakes All-Region team. In addition, Diemer was named Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year for the eighth time in the last nine years.

The following week, the Knights returned to Hanover for the NCAA III Championships — this time as the number-one ranked team in the country.

Calvin more than lived up to its lofty ranking, as the Knights took first place with a team score of 48 points, the second-best team score ever at an NCAA III Men’s Cross Country Championship meet. Calvin also posted six All-American performances, becoming the first team in NCAA III Cross Country history to achieve the feat. Calvin placed six runners in the top 30, with Haagsma leading the pack with a seventh place time of 25:21. Kok was right behind in eighth place (25:24) to garner his second straight All-American cross country berth. He was followed by Avery in 15th (25:35) and Finnegan in 16th (25:35), Koster in 27th (25:42) and Edwards in 30th (25:44). Rounding out Calvin’s finishers was Engbers in 130th place (27:03).

At the conclusion of the meet, Diemer and Hoekstra were named NCAA III Co-Coaches of the Year by the United States Track and Field Coaches Association, marking the second time the duo has been so honored.

The national title was the second in Calvin men’s cross country history, joining the title won by Calvin in 2000. It was also the sixth in Calvin athletic history. National titles were earned by the women’s cross country team in 1998 and 1999 and by the men’s basketball team in 1992 and 2000.

Katie Bolt
Katie Bolt
(Grand Rapids, Mich.)

Led by veteran head coach Nancy Meyer, the women’s cross country team captured its 16th straight MIAA title by posting a first-place score of 28 points at the MIAA Championships. The championship streak is the longest in MIAA women’s athletic history. Senior Jessie Lair (West Bloomfield, Mich.) led the Knights, with a first-place time of 21:58 to claim her second straight MIAA individual title. Senior teammate Sarah Hastings (Traverse City, Mich.) took second with a time of 22:39. Senior Tami VerMeulen (Holland, Mich.) took eighth (23:24), sophomore Camille Medema (Grand Rapids) took ninth (23:35) and freshman Laura Holtrop (Derwood, Md.) took 11th (23:50). Rounding out Calvin’s top seven were freshman Christine Witte (Holland, Mich.) in 12th (24:01) and sophomore Jen Walter (Sharon, Mass.) in 13th (24:09).

Lair was named the MIAA’s Most Out-standing Runner for the second straight year. She also joined Hastings on the All-MIAA first team for the fourth straight year. Also named to the All-MIAA first team were Medema, VerMeulen and Holtrop, while Walter and freshman Bethany Hofman were named to the All-MIAA second team.

At the Great Lakes Regional meet on November 15 in Hanover, Ind., Calvin took second, with a team score of 120 points, eight points behind regional champion Mount Union. The second-place finish snapped a 15-year streak of Great Lakes Regional titles by the Knights, but Calvin did qualify for the NCAA III Champion-ships for the 16th straight year, ranking fourth on the all-time NCAA III women’s cross country list for team appearances.

Lair captured the Great Lakes Regional individual title with a time of 22:14, which ended the three-year run of regional titles by Lisa Nicholson of Anderson University. Hastings was Calvin’s second finisher, placing fifth with a time of 22:43. Medema was next for the Knights, placing 25th with a time of 23:42. Rounding out Calvin’s finishers were VerMeulen in 37th (24:02); Walter in 52nd (24:36); Holtrop in 87th (25:12) and Hofman in 111th (25:38). Lair was named Great Lakes Regional Athlete of the Year and landed a spot--along with Hastings--on the Great Lakes All-Region team for the fourth straight year. In addition, Medema earned a spot on the All-Region team for the second straight year.

At the NCAA III Championships on November 22 in Hanover, Calvin tied for 15th place, with a team score of 341 points. Hastings and Lair both claimed All-American berths, with Hastings finishing 13th (22:21) and Lair 15th (22:24). The finishes represented the second All-American berths for both Hastings and Lair; they also ran to All-American cross country status at the 2002 national meet.

Kurt Visker
Kurt Visker
(Grand Rapids, Mich.)

The men’s soccer team earned a share of its first MIAA title since 1999, as the Knights finished 10-2-0 in the league and shared the league crown with rival Hope. Under the direction of second-year head coach Chris Hughes, Calvin finished 15-5-0 overall and cracked the Division III Top-25 national poll in the second to last week of the regular season, Calvin’s first national ranking since 1991. The final week of the regular season, Calvin was ranked 16th in the national poll, its highest national ranking in school history.

Calvin opened the year by winning its first three games, two of which netted the Knights the championship of their own Cal Bergsma Memorial Tournament.

Calvin then dropped four of its next five games before rebounding to win 10 straight games, including victories over conference rivals Hope and Kalamazoo, both by scores of 1-0. The win over Kalamazoo was Calvin’s first against the Hornets since 1999 and came in dramatic fashion, as sophomore sweeper back Kurt Visker (Grand Rapids) cranked in a 35-yard shot with under 20 minutes remaining for the only goal of the game.

A 2-1 loss at Hope on November 5 dropped Calvin out of first place in the MIAA standings, one point behind Hope. A Calvin victory over Alma and a Hope tie against Albion on the final date of the regular season boosted the Knights to a share of the MIAA title. The title was Calvin’s 16th league crown--a bigger total than any other league school.

Visker was then named the MIAA’s Most Valuable Player, marking the third time in the last four years that a Calvin player has been so honored. Just the third defensive player in Calvin men’s soccer history to receive the award, Visker anchored a Calvin defense that allowed just six goals in 12 league games and posted eight shut-out victories. Senior forward Joel Veldhouse (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and junior midfielder Joel Vande Kopple (Grand Rapids) joined Visker on the All-MIAA first team. Named to the All-MIAA second team from Calvin were senior marking back Mike Standfest (Elk Rapids, Mich.), sophomore goaltender Joe Westra (Grand Rapids) and freshman midfielder Nick Capisciolto (Hudsonville, Mich.). Receiving honorable mention recognition from the MIAA coaches were sophomore defensive backs Peter Malefyt (Lansing, Mich.) and John Van Wylen (Grand Rapids).

During the year, Veldhouse and Vande Kopple received MIAA Offensive Player of the Week honors, while Malefyt, Visker, Standfest and Van Wylen received MIAA Defensive Player of the Week accolades.

Veldhouse capped off the list of post-season accomplishments by being named a first team Academic All-American, becoming the first individual in Calvin men’s soccer history to land a spot on the Academic All-American first team.

Sarah Weesies
Sarah Weesies
(Kalamazoo, Mich.)

Led by third-year head coach Mark Recker, the women’s soccer team reached the double-digit plateau in victories for the 14th straight year as the Knights finished 12-5-2 overall. The Knights also narrowly missed a share of MIAA championship, finishing 10-2-2 in the final league standings, one point behind Hope. Calvin and Hope shared first place heading into the final game of the regular season, but a Calvin tie against St. Mary’s and a Hope victory over Olivet combined to edge out the Knights for the league crown.

During the year, Calvin also recorded the 200th victory in women’s soccer history, becoming just the second MIAA school to achieve the feat.

A youthful Calvin team opened the year with a 1-4-1 record, including an 0-2-1 record in the MIAA. Included in the early-season defeats were losses to nationally ranked Ohio Wesleyan and Denison. The young Knights then came of age, ripping off 10 straight victories, including a 3-1 win at three-time defending league champion Albion, which marked Calvin’s first win at Albion since 1997.

Calvin’s win streak was eventually snapped by Division II Ferris State; the Bulldogs defeated the Knights 3-1 in a game that Calvin led 1-0 at halftime. Calvin then finished its season with an 8-0 win over Adrian and a season-ending 4-4 double-overtime tie against St. Mary’s.

At the conclusion of the season, freshman forward Sarah Weesies (Kalamazoo, Mich.) made MIAA history by being named the MIAA’s Most Valuable Player--the first freshman in MIAA women’s soccer history to receive the award. Weesies led the MIAA in scoring, with 16 goals, 13 assists and 45 points, marking the third straight year a Calvin player captured the league scoring crown. Overall, Weesies finished with a team-leading 20 goals, 14 assists and 54 points. Her assist total matched a Calvin single-season record also held by Tracy Veurink (1990) and Larissa Onderlinde (2001). A two-time MIAA Offensive Player of the Week, Weesies was joined on the All-MIAA first team by Calvin sophomore midfielder Noell Berghuis (Hudsonville, Mich.) and freshman forward Jill Capel (Hudsonville, Mich.). Capel finished second in the MIAA scoring race, with 14 goals, nine assists and 37 points.

Named to the All-MIAA second team from Calvin were junior midfielder Linnea Butler (Shelton, Wash.) and freshman sweeper back Tricia DeVries (Grand Rapids). Receiving honorable mention recognition from the MIAA coaches were senior midfielder Dana Haan (Lynden,Wash.), sophomore marking back Karla VanBeveren (Ancaster, Ont.) and freshman marking back Leah Scholten (Hudsonville, Mich.).

During the year, VanBeveren, Scholten and DeVries were each named MIAA Defensive Player of the Week, while Capel, Haan and Berghuis joined Weesies as MIAA Offensive Player of the Week honorees.

Katie Schultz
Katie Schultz
(Escondido, Calif.)

Under the leadership of second-year head coach Amber Warners, the women’s volleyball team reached the 20-win plateau for the ninth straight year, as the Knights finished 28-8 overall. Calvin narrowly missed an MIAA title, finishing 12-2 in league play, one victory behind regular season champion Alma. Alma defeated Calvin in three games in the final regular season conference match. Calvin then reached the finals of the MIAA Tournament for the fourth time in five years but bowed to Alma in the title tilt in a four-game match.

Calvin opened the year by repeating as league champion at the Kalamazoo College Hornet Invitational, with junior middle hitter Kara Kuipers (Hudsonville, Mich.) and freshman Kristen Kalb (Stow, Ohio) receiving All-Tournament honors. At the Elmhurst Invitational in September, Calvin upset nationally ranked Central (Iowa) in three games. Kuipers also landed a spot on the Elmhurst Invitational All-Tournament team.

At Calvin’s own Midwest Invitational, the Knights took third, with their only loss coming to national power Palm Beach Atlantic College. Kuipers was again stellar for the Knights in the Midwest Invitational, landing her third All-Tournament berth of the year.

A two-time MIAA Player of the Week during the year, Kuipers was named to the All-MIAA first team along with senior teammate Trisha Balkema (Highland, Ind.). During the year, Balkema shattered her own Calvin single-season record for digs (676) and repeated as MIAA Defensive Player of the Year from her libero position. Balkema was named MIAA Specialty Player of the Week twice during the season.

An outside hitter, Kalb was named the MIAA’s Freshman of the Year and landed a spot on the All-MIAA second team. Kalb also received MIAA Player of the Week honors. Receiving honorable mention recognition from the MIAA coaches were sophomore setter Jill Scholten (Zeeland, Mich.) and sophomore middle hitter Christine Hendricks (Cincinnati, Ohio). Scholten received MIAA Specialty Player of the Week honors once during the year.

Kuipers was then named to the Great Lakes All-Region honorable mention team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. A three-year starter, Kuipers led the MIAA in blocks and was ranked among the nation’s leaders in blocks throughout the season.

Matt Kelly
Matt Kelly
(Shelby, Mich.)

The men’s golf team was led by first-year head coach Jim Timmer, Jr., this fall and posted a second-place league finish, 44 strokes behind league champion Hope and 14 strokes ahead of defending league champion Olivet.

At the first MIAA outing of the year, Calvin took fifth, but the Knights were a model of consistency thereafter, taking second in five of the final six league outings. Calvin moved past Olivet and into second place in the second-to-last league outing of the year, with a team score of 313 at the Lenawee Country Club in Adrian. Junior Ricky Shilts (Kalamazoo, Mich.) led the way at Lenawee, firing a season-best round of 73 to earn medalist honors.

Two days later, Calvin played host to the final MIAA outing of the year at the Watermark Country Club. There the Knights posted a team score of 306, four strokes behind Hope and five strokes ahead of Olivet. Senior Phil Rietema (Grand Rapids) was the catalyst of the Calvin effort, earning medalist honors with a round of 73, while Shilts was close behind in third place with a round of 75.

Rietema finished the MIAA season with a seven-round average of 76.0 strokes per round. His average placed him second in the final MIAA standings, the second-highest finish by a Calvin men’s golfer. His average also established a new Calvin single-season record for scoring average in league play, surpassing the previous record of 76.3 strokes per round established by Jeff Timmer in 1994.

Rietema was named to the All-MIAA first team, while junior Mike Bratt (Lynden, Wash.) was named to the All-MIAA second team. Bratt was ninth in the final MIAA individual standings, with an average of 79 strokes per round.

Margaret Tassaro
Margaret Tassaro
(Carnegie, Pa.)

The women’s golf team, directed by second-year head coach Jerry Bergsma, finished sixth in the final MIAA standings, 25 strokes behind fifth-place Olivet and more than 100 strokes ahead of seventh-place Kalamazoo.

An early-season highlight was Calvin’s first-place performance at its own invitational at the Thornapple Point Golf Club, an event that also included teams from Aquinas College and Davenport University.

At the two-day MIAA Championships hosted by Olivet at the Bedford Valley Country Club, Calvin finished fifth, with a team total of 679 strokes. Calvin sophomore Annie Huizenga (Hudsonville, Mich.) came up with a career-best round of 83 on the final day of the MIAA Championships to finish in a tie for eighth place at the two-day competition. In addition, Huizenga moved into 12th place in the final MIAA individual standings to claim the final spot on the All-MIAA second team. Huizenga finished the year with an MIAA season average of 91 strokes per round. Huizenga’s average was a new Calvin single-season record, surpassing the previous Calvin record of 92.0 strokes per round established in the MIAA’s inaugural season of women’s golf in 1991.

Calvin’s second-best finisher at the MIAA Championships was junior Dawn Svenkeson (Scandia, Minn.), who fired a round of 87 to finish 13th in the individual standings over the weekend, with a two-day total of 180. Svenkeson also finished 20th in the final league standings with an average of 94.2, good for seventh place on the all-time Calvin list.