2013 Calvin Men’s Cross Country Preview
Thursday, August 29, 2013
By Jordan Brink
After graduating one of the most successful senior classes in the history of the program, the 2013 men’s cross country team will feature some different faces this fall.
In order to bring home the team’s 18th consecutive Great Lakes Regional title and 27th consecutive MIAA conference title, the Knights will need runners to step up and fill the roles that have been vacated by graduated runners.
Calvin returns four runners that were selected to the All-MIAA Second Team last season. Seniors Sam Kerk (Hartland, WI/Lake County Lutheran HS) and Philip Spitzer (Buckley/Buckley HS) combine with juniors Josh Ferguson (Naperville, IL/Neuqua Valley HS) and Steven Haagsma (Grandville/Calvin Christian HS) to anchor the Knights running attack.
Kerk finished 17th at the 2012 MIAA Conference Championships and 223rd at the 2012 NCAA III Championships. He also put together an impressive outdoor track and field season earlier this spring, placing second in the 1,500 meters. Spitzer was 15th at the MIAA Championships a year ago and has become essential in the development of the younger runners in the program.
Ferguson placed 10th at the MIAA Championships last fall, with Haagsma right behind him at 11th. Haagsma is another coming off a successful outdoor track and field season, which was highlighted by his second place finish in the 3,000 meters steeplechase at the MIAA Championships. Haagsma later qualified for the NCAA III Championships in the event.
Senior Gabe Guunink (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) is another runner poised to have a breakout year. Having battled through injuries during his career, Guunink has looked sharp as of late. He placed 32nd at last year’s conference championship meet and finished 10th in the 5,000 meters for the track and field team in the spring.
The Knights also look for junior Jacob Kuyvenhoven (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) to be a major contributor. With his 18th place finish in the MIAA Championships last year and his 3rd place finish in the 10,000 meters for the outdoor track and field team, Calvin has already seen glimpses of his talent.
Other varsity returning letterwinners include junior Stephen Tubergen (Mount Prospect, IL/John Hersey HS), sophomore Andre Otte (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), sophomore Jeff Meitler (New Berlin, WI/Milwaukee Lutheran HS), and sophomore Nathan Van Haitsma (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS).
Tubergen placed 26th at the MIAA Championships while Meitler was 31st.
The Knights also expect much success from a sizable, talented freshman class. With the potential to be one of the most talented recruiting classes in recent program history, Calvin looks to get contributions right away from the freshmen.
“We graduated one of the best senior classes in school history, both on and off the running course,” said Calvin’s head men’s cross country coach Brian Diemer. “They set the standard for many years in this program, and now we need to do our best to fill their roles.”
“I am very excited for the opportunities we have for people to develop and really contribute,” Diemer continued. “We have a driven group of young men that are ready to lay it all on the line.”
Calvin will open its season by hosting own Knight Invitational on September 14 at the Gainey Athletic Complex. The conference season will consist of an MIAA jamboree at Adrian on September 28 and the MIAA Championships at Hope on November 2. Non-conference meets include invitationals at Notre Dame (October 4), Wisconsin-Oshkosh (October 19), and Manchester (October 19) as well as the Michigan Intercollegiates, which will bring teams from around the state of Michigan to compete at Hillsdale College on October 11.
Calvin will host the Great Lakes Regional meet on November 16 at the Gainey Athletic Complex with the hopes of qualifying for the NCAA III Championships on November 23 in Hanover, Indiana, with Hanover College serving as host.