2010 Calvin Men’s Cross Country Preview
Saturday, August 21, 2010
With a talented cast of runners, the 2010 Calvin men’s cross country team enters the upcoming season with a wealth of enthusiasm. Calvin’s 2009 squad maintained its strong tradition, capturing the MIAA title for the 23rd consecutive year, winning the Great Lakes Regional crown for the 14th straight year and placing 13th at the NCAA III Cross Country Championships.
With four individuals who were named to the All-MIAA first team and Great Lakes All-Region team returning, the Knights will be looking for continued success this fall.
“I’m very excited about this group,” said head coach Brian Diemer. “I thought our team really turned the corner in a positive way during the second half of last year and the momentum has continued in a positive fashion ever since. Our guys have worked very hard and are prepared for great fall. I think several of our runners are set to to make big jumps forward in their development. I think the chemistry and attitude of this team is also very good. This team has great potential and I’m anxiously awaiting the upcoming season.”
Leading the list of returning runners is junior Nick Kramer (Dyer, IN/Illiana Christian HS) who was named the MIAA’s Most Valuable Runner in 2009 and later earned Great Lakes Regional Athlete of the Year honors after winning the Great Lakes Regional title in mid-November. At the NCAA III Championships, Kramer was in All-America contention for much of the race before finishing 49th individually. Kramer then continued on to record an outstanding outdoor track and field season this past spring, capturing the MIAA title in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and then claiming All-America accolades in both the steeplechase (4th place) and 5,000 meters (8th place tie) at the NCAA III Championships, becoming the fourth individual in Calvin men’s track and field history to pull off the difficult double in a span of less than 24 hours.
Other returning All-MIAA and Great Lakes All-Region selections are seniors Ben VanWyk (Sussex, NJ/High Point HS) and Alex Wrobel (Arden Hills, MN/Mounds View HS) and sophomore Matt VanderRoest (Ann Arbor, MI/Ann Arbor Huron HS).
VanWyk placed 12th at the 2009 MIAA Championships, 22nd at the Great Lakes Regional Championships and 216th at the NCAA III Championships. During the spring, he qualified for the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the steeplechase and placed 11th in the event at the national meet. A three-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll, VanWyk was also a member of the U.S. Track Coaches All-Academic squad announced earlier this summer.
Wrobel has also had great success on the track, claiming an MIAA title last spring in the 1500 meters and a 2008 MIAA crown in the 800 meters while also positing an NCAA III provisional qualifying time in the 800 meters the last two springs. Wrobel has also had success in cross country as well, placing fifth at the 2009 MIAA Championships, 35th at the 2009 Great Lakes Regional Championships and 182nd at the 2009 NCAA III Cross country Championships.
VanderRoest had a sterling freshman campaign, most notably over the final month of the season as he placed ninth at the MIAA Championships, 14th at the Great Lakes Regional Championships and 51st at the NCAA III Championships. He also placed third in the 10,000 meters at the 2010 MIAA Track and Field Championships and earned a spot on the MIAA Academic Honor Roll while majoring in the demanding field of engineering.
Junior Dan Kerr (Petoskey, MI/Petoskey HS) did not earn a spot on the 2009 All-MIAA team but did earn a spot on Calvin’s top-seven at both the Great Lakes Regional and NCAA III Championships last fall, placing 58th at the regional meet and 221st at the national meet. In addition, Kerr placed fifth in the 10,000 meters at the 2010 MIAA Track and Field Championships.
Other returning varsity letterwinners include seniors Jake Christiansen (New Ipswich, NH/Mascenic Regional HS) and Jake Baker (Grand Rapids, MI/South Christian HS), junior Ben Lewis (South Haven, MI/South Haven HS) and sophomores David VandeBunte (Byron Center, MI/Byron Center HS), Gabe Gunnink (Grand Rapids, MI/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Job Christiansen (New Ipswich, NH/Mascenic Regional HS) and Greg Whittle (Galesburg, IL/Galesburg HS).
Jake Christiansen fought through injuries in 2009 after earning a spot on the All-MIAA first team as a sophomore in 2008. He rebounded in the spring to produce a solid track and field season, winning the MIAA title in the 5,000 meters at the MIAA Field Day and is anticipating a healthy senior year of cross country. Baker and Lewis are also key seasoned veterans. At the 2009 MIAA Cross Country Championships, Baker was 22nd and Lewis 37th.
VandeBunte, Gunnink, Job Christiansen and Whittle all displayed flashes of promise as freshman last year. At the 2009 MIAA Cross Country Championships, Job Christiansen was 23rd while Whittle was 41st. At the 2010 MIAA Track and Field Championships, Whittle was fourth in the 1500 meters. Gunnink was one of Calvin’s top freshman in 2009, placing 30th at the MIAA jamboree and 19th at the MIAA Championships. Gunnink was slowed by injury during the track season however and will be looking to bounce back this fall.
In addition, junior Rhett Morici (St. Charles, IL) is back after a year’s absence from cross country. This past spring, Morici took sixth in the 10,000 meters at the MIAA Track and Field Championships.
A number of runners from Calvin’s junior varsity squad are also looking to make the jump to the varsity roster this fall. Those runners include senior Nick Schuck (Niles, MI/Niles HS), juniors Martin Avila (Cicero, IL/Walther Lutheran HS) and Nate Frazier (Placerville, CA/Jesuit HS) and sophomores Luke DeJong (Grand Rapids, MI/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Eric Doornbos (Grand Rapids, MI/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Kevin Peterson (Grand Rapids, MI/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and Alex VanHaitsma (Hudsonville, MI/Unity Christian HS).
Calvin will open its schedule on September 18 when it hosts the Calvin Knight Invitational. The race will be one of two on Calvin’s home course at the Gainey Athletic Complex as the Knights will also host the MIAA Championships on October 30. The MIAA jamboree is slated for September 25 with Olivet serving as host. The Knights will also compete at invitationals hosted by Notre Dame, Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Manchester, Loyola (IL) and Oakland University. The NCAA III Great Lakes Regional meet will be hosted by Hope College on November 13 in Holland, giving fans of Calvin cross country another chance to watch the Knights nearby.
the NCAA III Championships are slated for November 20 in Waverly, Iowa, with Wartburg College serving as host.
“We have another great schedule and I’m thrilled that we have several races close to home,” said Diemer. “We have always received tremendous support from our fans and the Calvin community. I am excited that they will have a chance to watch us on more than one occasion without having to travel too far from home.”
Calvin will also seek to continue its academic success as the Knights earned the MIAA’s Team GPA Award for maintaining a cumulative team grade point average of 3.30 or better. In fact, the Knights produced a team GPA of 3.57 that ranked third among all MIAA teams. Calvin also placed 11 individuals on the MIAA Academic Honor Roll for producing a grade point average of 3.50 or above during the 2009-10 academic year. Returning letterwinners that earned spots on the 2010 MIAA Academic Honor Roll include Baker, Gunnink, Jake and Job Christiansen, Kerr, Lewis, VanderRoest and Whittle.