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2012 Calvin Men’s Cross Country Outlook

Saturday, August 18, 2012

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2012 Calvin Men'x Cross Country Outlook

With three All-Americans and six individuals that were members of its team that competed at the 2011 NCAA III Championships, the Calvin men’s cross country team is looking forward to the 2012 season with great anticipation and excitement.

Returning letterwinners that ran at the 2011 NCAA III Cross Country Championships include seniors Dan Kerr (Petoskey/Petoskey HS), Matt VanderRoest (Ann Arbor/Ann Arbor Huron HS), Greg Whittle (Galesburg, IL/Galesburg HS) Rhett Morici (St. Charles, IL/St. Charles North HS) and David VandeBunte (Byron Center/Byron Center HS). The alternate from last year’s nationals team - senior Job Christiansen (New Ipswich NH/Mascenic Regional HS) also returns.

Kerr and VanderRoest were both NCAA III All-Americans last November with Kerr placing 21st and VanderRoest 22nd at the NCAA III Championships.

Kerr was the 2011 MIAA Most Valuable Runner after placing first at the MIAA Championships. The fifth-year senior is also coming off a tremendous outdoor track and field campaign last spring that saw him claim All-America accolades in the 10,000 meters with a fifth place finish. A three-time first team All-MIAA selection, Kerr has continued to run well this summer, placing second at the 2012 Traverse City 15K Meijer’s Cherry Festival Race in early July with a time of 48:32. A standout in the classroom, Kerr was also named a first team Capital One Academic All-American this past June.

Like Kerr, VanderRoest was a member of the 2011 All-MIAA first team and Great Lakes All-Region squad. At the 2011 MIAA Jamboree last September, VanderRoest took first place and followed with a second place finish at the MIAA Championships in November. A three-time All-MIAA first team selection, VanderRoest was the MIAA champion in the 3,000 meter steeplechase last May at the MIAA Track and Field Championships. He later qualified for the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 5,000 meter run.

Also returning with All-America credentials is fifth-year senior Nick Kramer (Dyer, IN/Illiana Christian HS) who missed the 2011 cross country season with an injury but came back to produce sparkling indoor and outdoor track and field campaigns in 2012. During the indoor season, Kramer was an All-American in the 5,000 meters with an eighth place finish at the national meet in March. In late May, he captured the national title in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and also claimed an All-America berth in the 5,000 (outdoor) meters, placing eighth.

Kramer is a three-time first team All-MIAA selection and a two-time MIAA Most Valuable Runner (2009 and 2010) in cross country. At the 2010 NCAA III Cross Country Championships, he garnered an All-America berth with a 16th place individual finish.

Whittle, VandeBunte, Morici and Christiansen are all returning All-MIAA first team selections. Whittle was third at the 2011 MIAA Championships, eighth at the Great Lakes Regional Championships and 112th place at the NCAA III Championships. A Capital One Academic All-America this past June, Whittle was claimed All-America honors in the mile run (indoor) and 1,500 meters (outdoor) in track and field during his career and qualified for the respective national meets last year in both events.

Morici placed fifth at the MIAA Championships, 12th at the Great Lakes Regional meet and 180th at the NCAA III Championships. He missed the 2012 track and field season with an injury but appears back to full health for the cross country campaign.

VandeBunte was seventh at the MIAA Championships, 10th at the Great Lakes Regional meet and 136th at the 2011 NCAA III Championships.

Christiansen was also a member of the 2011 All-MIAA first team. He placed 10th at the MIAA Championships and then served as Calvin’s alternate runner at both the regional and national meets.

In addition, Calvin has two returning runners that were named to the 2011 All-MIAA second team in juniors Sam Kerk (Hartland, WI/Lake Country Lutheran HS)) and Kevin Peterson (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS).  Kerk was 12th at the 2011 MIAA Cross Country Championships and then produced a stellar outdoor track and field season, placing second in both the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters at the 2012 MIAA Track and Field Championships. Peterson was 18th at the MIAA Cross Country Championships last fall and figures to be one of several Calvin runners pushing for a top 10 spot on the Calvin squad.

Another runner to watch is sophomore Josh Ferguson (Naperville, IL/Neuqua Valley HS) who was 14th at the MIAA Cross Country Championships last fall. Other varsity returning letterwinners include senior Alex VanHaitsma (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS) and sophomore Jacob Kuyvenhoven (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS). Kuyvenhoven was 21st at the MIAA Cross Country Championships while VanHaitsma was 30th last fall.

Other returners include senior Luke DeJong (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), junior Johnny Davis (Rio Linda, CA/Rio Linda), junior Eric Doornbos (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), junior Gabe Gunnink (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), junior Philip Spitizer (Buckley/Buckley HS), sophomore Steven Haagsma (Grandville/Calvin Christian HS), sophomore Nick McKee (Arlington Heights, IL/John Hersey HS), sophomore Stephen Tubergen (Mount Prospect, IL/John Hersey HS), sophomore Michael VandenHeuvel (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and junior Austin Wenger (Goshen, IN/Northwood HS).

A sizable freshmen class also figures to make an impact within the Calvin cross country program this fall.

“I think everyone on this team is excited for the upcoming season,” said Calvin head men’s cross country coach Brian Diemer who led the Knights to their 25th consecutive MIAA title last fall. “We have a chance to have a very fun season and the guys have high goals. I think this team will have very strong depth and I sense that everyone will be pushing the train forward in a positive fashion.”

Calvin will open its season by hosting its own Knight Invitational on September 8 at the Gainey Athletic Complex.  The conference season will consist of an MIAA jamboree at Saint Mary’s on September 21 and the MIAA Championships at Albion on October 27. Non-conference meets include invitationals at Notre Dame (September 28), Loyola (September 29), Wisconsin-Oshkosh (October 13) and Manchester (October 13) as well as the Michigan Intercollegiates which Calvin will host on October 5 with teams from around the state of Michigan coming to the Gainey Athletic Complex.

Calvin will compete at the Great Lakes Regional meet on November 10 at Anderson University (IN) with the hopes of qualifying for the NCAA III Championships November 17 in Terre Haute, Indiana, with Rose-Hulman Institute serving as host.

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