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2008 Calvin Women’s Cross Country Preview

Friday, August 22, 2008

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The Calvin women’s cross country team will head into the upcoming 2008 campaign with optimism. The Knights return an abundance of letterwinners including five of their top seven runners from a 2007 team that finished fourth nationally, captured a Great Lakes Regional title and claimed its third consecutive MIAA title including its 19th overall.

Returning from Calvin’s 2008 nationals team are seniors Lauren Bergstrom (Rochester, MN/Century HS), Calah Schlabach (St. Michaels, AZ/St. Michaels HS), Jesi Hale (Rehoboth, NM/Rehoboth HS) and juniors Jessica Koster (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and Elizabeth Smit (Kirkland, WA/Bellevue Christian HS).

Also returning is junior Mary Tolsma (Hawthorne, NJ/Eastern Christian HS) who served as an alternate on Calvin’s 2007 team that made its third consecutive trip to the NCAA III Championships.

Bergstrom, Schlabach, Hale, Koster and Smit were all named to the All-MIAA first team in 2007.  At the MIAA Championships, Schlabach was third, Bergstrom fourth, Hale fifth, Koster sixth and Smit eighth. Although she did not figure in Calvin’s top seven, Tolsma took 10th at the MIAA Championships.

Several members of Calvin’s top group had standout track and field campaigns this spring with Koster qualifying for the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 10,000 meters while Smit did so in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Schlabach was also a provisional qualifier in the steeplechase. Bergstrom meanwhile, ran in the middle-distance events and earned All-America honors in both the 800 and 1500 meters at the national meet.

Several other individuals will be looking to crack Calvin’s top group. Runners to watch include senior Kelly Edwards (Grand Blanc/Grand Blanc HS) and sophomores Bethany Hammer (Elk Rapids/Elk Rapids HS), Alison Tuuk (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and Kristen Fletcher (Fort Wayne, IN/Concordia Lutheran HS).  Senior Anne Fennema (Brookfield, WI/Brookield East HS) and junior Nicole Farr (Wheaton, IL/Wheaton-Warrenville South HS) could also factor into the equation.
Hammer was 12th, Fletcher 14th and Tuuk 15th at the MIAA Cross Country Championships. Fennema and Farr are coming off of solid track and field campaigns. At the 2008 MIAA Track and Field Championships, Farr was third in the 3,000 meter steeplechase while Fennema was third in the 1500 meters. Tuuk also had a stellar track and field season, finishing second in the 1500 meters and fourth in the 800 meters.

Other returning runners include sophomore Gretchen Braymer (Erie, PA/Collegiate Academy), senior Kristen Haagsma (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids South Christian HS), senior Jesi Miller (Colorado Springs, CO/The Classical Academy), junior Val Nydam (Uxbridge, MA/Whitisnville Christian HS), senior Anna Pranger (Centenniel, CO/Cherry Creek HS) and sophomore Ana VanWyk (Dorr/South Christian HS).

Calvin will again open its season by hosting its own Calvin Invitational on September 20. The Knights will also compete at invitationals hosted by Notre Dame (October 3) and Wisconsin-Oshkosh (October 18). Calvin will also compete at the Michigan Intercollegiates October 10 with Oakland University serving as host. The MIAA jamboree is slated to be held on September 26 at Saint Mary’s College with the MIAA Championships scheduled to be held at Kalamazoo College on November 1. The NCAA III Great Lakes Regional will be hosted by Otterbein College (OH) on November 15 with the NCAA III Championships scheduled to be held November 22 at Hanover College (IN). Calvin will be bidding to make its 19th trip to the NCAA III Championships.

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