2011 Calvin Men’s Cross Country Outlook
Saturday, August 20, 2011
The Calvin menís cross country team will head into the 2011 season looking to build upon a successful 2010 campaign. A year ago, the Knights captured their 24th consecutive MIAA title, their 15th straight Great Lakes Regional crown and added their 17th top-10 national finish in the last 18 years with an eighth place finish at the NCAA III Championships.
Calvin returns 17 letterwinners from last yearís team including five of the seven runners that represented the team at the 2010 NCAA III Championships. Calvin has eight runners that received either first or second team All-MIAA accolades last fall. Returning first team All-MIAA selections include seniors Nick Kramer (Dyer, IN/Illiana Christian HS) and Alex Wrobel (Arden Hills, MN/Moundsview HS) and juniors Dan Kerr (Petoskey/Petoskey HS) and Matt VanderRoest (Ann Arbor/Ann Arbor Huron HS). Returning All-MIAA second team selections are juniors Job Christiansen (New Ipswich, NH/New Ipswich HS), Rhett Morici (St. Charles, IL/St. Charles North HS), Greg Whittle (Galesburg, IL/Galesburg HS) and David Vande Bunte (Byron Center/Byron Center HS).
Kramer, Wrobel, VanderRoest, Kerr and Morici are also returning Great Lakes All-Region honorees as all five finished in the top-35 at the 2010 Great Lakes Regional meet with Kramer winning the Great Lakes Regional individual title with VanderRoest placing 11th, Wrobel 16th, Kerr 18th and Morici 34th.
A two-time MIAA MVP and a two-time Great Lakes Regional Athlete of the Year selection, Kramer is a returning NCAA III All-American as he placed 16th at the 2010 NCAA III Cross Country Championships. He also garnered NCAA III All-America honors three times in track and field in 2011, doing so in the 5,000 meters indoors and in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and 5,000 meters outdoors.
A two-time All-MIAA cross country selection, VanderRoest has a pair of top-60 finishes at the NCAA III Cross Country Championships, placing 51st at the 2009 national meet and 59th at the 2010 national finals. He also recorded an NCAA III provisional qualifying time in the steeplechase during the 2011 outdoor track and field season.
Also a two-time All-MIAA cross country pick, Wrobel is coming off a strong 2011 outdoor track and field season. Last May, Wrobel was a national qualifier in the 1,500 meters and competed in the event at the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Kerr had a strong finish to the 2010 cross country season, placing second at the MIAA Cross Country Championships, 18th and 72nd at the NCAA III Cross Country Championships. During the spring outdoor track season, he captured the MIAA title in the 10,000 meters and later qualified for the NCAA III Championships in the event where he placed 14th. Morici meanwhile was 10th at the 2010 MIAA Cross Country Championships and later ran in Calvinís top-seven at the NCAA III Cross Country Championships. This past spring, he was a qualifier in the 10,000 meters for the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, finishing 17th.
Whittle is another individual coming off an outstanding track and field campaign. During the fall, he finished 14th at the MIAA Cross Country Championships and then took off like a rocket ship during the indoor track and field season, earning All-America accolades in the mile run at the 2011 NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships and then claiming yet another All-America berth at the 2011 NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a fourth place finish in the 1,500 meter run.
Christiansen is another individual poised for a breakthrough cross country season. He was 11th at the 2010 MIAA Cross Country Championships and 13th at the 2010 MIAA Jamboree. He is the third Christiansen brother to run as Calvin as he was preceded by older brothers Jed Christiansen and Jake Christiansen. VandeBunte is an individual to watch as well after placing 11th at the MIAA Jamboree and 18th at the MIAA Cross Country Championships in 2010. At the 2011 MIAA Track and Field Championships, he placed fourth in the 10,000 meter run.
Other returning letterwinners include seniors Luke DeJong (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Nathan Frazier (Detroit/Detroit-Jesuit HS), Ben Lewis (South Haven/South Haven HS), juniors Eric Doornbos (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Kevin Peterson (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Alex VanHaitsma (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS) and sophomores Sam Kerk (Hartland, WI/Lake County Lutheran HS), Philip Spitzer (Kingsley/Buckley HS) and Austin Wenger (Goshen, IN/Northwood HS). Another runner to watch is junior Gabe Gunnink (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) who sat out the 2010 season studying overseas.
The Knights are also bringing in a recruiting class of newcomers that are expected to contribute to the team.
Calvin will again open its season by hosting its own Knight Invitational at the Gainey Athletics Complex. The 2011 Knight Invitational is scheduled to be held on September 17. Calvin will open its conference season on September 24, competing at the MIAA Jamboree hosted by Trine University with the MIAA Championships slated to be held on October 29 at Alma College. Calvin will be one of two MIAA teams that competed at the 2010 NCAA III Cross Country Championships as Albion earned a bid to the national meet and earned a top-25 national ranking.
Other non-conference meets for Calvin include the prestigious Notre Dame Invitational on September 30, the Michigan Intercollegiates on October 7 with Hillsdale College serving as host and the Wisconsin-Oshkosh Brooks Invitational on October 15. The invitational at Wisconsin-Oshkosh will hopefully give Calvin a sneak preview of the NCAA III Championships as the course will also be the site of the national meet on November 19. In order to qualify for the national meet, Calvin will need to finish in the top-two team spots at the Great Lakes Regional Championships, slated for November 12 at Oberlin College, just south of Cleveland, Ohio.