2012 Calvin Women’s Cross Country Outlook
Saturday, August 18, 2012
With several returning letterwinners, the Calvin women’s cross country team will seek to compete for an MIAA title and another trip to the NCAA III Championships.
A year ago, Calvin saw its five-year run as MIAA champions come to an end as rival Hope claimed first place at the MIAA Championships in October. Calvin rebounded two weeks later to claim the Great Lakes Regional title and then finished 13th at the NCAA III Championships one week later.
In order to compete for a league title and a trip to the NCAA III Championships, the Knights will need to rely on a strong one-two punch up front and receive solid contributions from a deep group of returning runners.
“I think we should have a strong group up front,” said Calvin women’s cross country coach Brian Diemer. “The key will be filling in the spots throughout our pack but we have a large group of returning runners, several of which had outstanding springs on the track and made big jumps. I think our depth will be a big plus this fall.”
Calvin’s one-two punch up front should center around senior Alyssa Penning (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and junior Nicole Michmerhuizen (Holland/Holland Christian HS).
Penning was a first team All-MIAA and a Great Lakes All-Region selection last fall, finishing fifth at the MIAA Championships and eight at the Great Lakes Regional meet. She also placed 99th at the NCAA III Cross Country Championships. Shen then produced a big outdoor track and field campaign during the spring, claiming All-America honors with a fifth place finish in the 3,000 meter steeplechase at the NCAA III Championships.
Michmerhuizen also had a big outdoor track and field campaign, winning an MIAA title in the 10,000 meters and later qualifying for the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in both the 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters. She will look to build upon a 2011 cross country campaign that saw her place 20th at the MIAA Championships, 38th at the Great Lakes Regional meet and 266th at the NCAA III Championships. A standout in the classroom, Michmerhuizen was also named a Capital One Academic All-American this past June.
Junior Alyssa Oram (Cheboygan/Home Schooled) is a savvy veteran to watch. She was a member of the All-MIAA second team and a member of the Great Lakes All-Region team in 2011. She placed 14th at the MIAA Championships, 12th at the Great Lakes Regional meet and 234th at the national meet.
Other returning varsity letterwinners include seniors Christine Hartley (Pewaukee, WI/Lake Country Lutheran HS) and Kaylea Brase (Lino Lakes, MN/Centennial HS), and sophomores Kate Ardinger (Elmhurst, IL/Timothy Christian HS), Sarah Danner (Watkins Glen, NY/Charles Dickerson HS), Anneliese VanderBaan (Whitinsville, MA/Whitinsville Christian HS) and Lizzy Vannette (Visalia, CA/Central Valley Christian HS).
Vannette placed 22nd at the MIAA Championships while Ardinger was 25th and Danner 26th. Danner also ran at the Great Lakes Regional and NCAA III Championship meets, placing 49th at the regionals and 188th at nationals.
Returning runners from Calvin’s junior varsity team from last fall include junior Margeaux Carter (Yellow Jakcet, CO/Montezuma-Cortez HS), Juniors Hannah Kregel (Iowa City, IA/Iowa City HS), Rachel Folkema (Renfrew, IN/Renfrew Collegiate Institute) and Devin VanDoornik (Zeeland/Zeeland East HS) and sophomores Paige McGahan (Brighton/Brighton HS), Kimby Penning (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Lydia Peterson (Holland/Holland Christian HS) and Lisa Schultz (Caledonia/Caledonia HS).
Standouts during the outdoor track and field season at the MIAA Championships include Kimby Penning who took second in the 3,000 meter steeplechase; Brase who was fifth in the 1,500 meters and fourth in the 800 meters and Vannette who was sixth in the 5,000 meters.
The freshmen class is a small one but Diemer believes at least one runner from the incoming class will challenge for a spot in Calvin’s top-seven this fall.
“We have the makings of a strong team,” said Diemer. “If this group can work together, we should have a very fun season.”
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.