Calvin Men’s Cross Country Takes Second at Great Lakes Regional - Advances to NCAA III Championships
Saturday, November 16, 2013
By Mark DeHaan
KENTWOOD, Mich. - The Calvin men’s cross country team was looking to extend its regional title streak to 18 straight on Saturday morning as the regional meet was held at the Gainey Athletic Complex.
The biggest threat to Calvin’s streak would be the Little Giants of Wabash College. Calvin came into the meet ranked 18th nationally while Wabash was 20th, and coincidentally, Wabash was the last school other than Calvin to win the Great Lakes region.
Calvin looked to run as a pack in the men’s race. Out of the gate, freshman Zac Nowicki (Comstock Park/Calvin Christian HS) was hanging with the top pack while Calvin’s other six runners, senior Sam Kerk (Hartland, WI/Lake Country Lutheran HS), senior Philip Spitzer (Buckley/Buckley HS), junior Josh Ferguson (Naperville, IL/Neuqua Valley HS), junior Steven Haagsma (Grandville/Calvin Christian HS), sophomore Jeff Meitler (New Berlin, WI/Milwaukee Lutheran HS, and freshman Nathan VanHaitsma (Olympia, WA/Olympia HS), looked to follow closely behind.
Just over halfway into the race, MIAA Champion and most valuable runner Paul Lewis of Albion took the lead.
Lewis held the lead for the remainder of the race, claiming the top spot with a time of 25:10.0. A
Wabash runner then came in second, and two more Little Giants crossed the line before the first Knight.
A pack of five Calvin runners then finished, but Wabash’s fourth and fifth runners were also in the mix. After the results had been sorted out, Calvin’s streak of 17 regional titles did end as the Knights fell to Wabash. As a team, Wabash totaled 60 points while the Knights finished with 79.
Calvin ran a strong pack race, and the top five Knights runners finished within seven places.
Ferguson was the first to cross the line for Calvin, taking 13th in 25:36.9. Nowicki followed closely behind, taking 14th overall in 25:37.0. Philip Spitzer and Jeff Meitler then crossed in 16th and 17th in times of 25:39.1 and 25:40.6, respectively. Kerk rounded out the top five finishers for the Knights, taking 19th in 25:42.5. Haagsma, Calvin’s sixth finisher, placed 23rd in a time of 25:55.0. Van Haitsma rounded out Calvin’s finishers, placing 47th in 26:18. Calvin’s top six finishers all earned Great Lakes All-Region honors by finishing in the top 35.
Finishing second as a team, Calvin earned an automatic berth to the National Meet next weekend.
“This team has really developed this year. We didn’t win regionals but we’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season,” said head coach Brian Diemer. “And we’re not done, we have a few things that we can tweak for next week at Nationals. I’m proud of these guys and we’re going to keep on developing.”
“The hard part is to lose the race on your home turf, but the guys didn’t run bad. We had six finishers in the top 23,” said assistant coach Al Hoekstra. “Hats off to Wabash. We made some mistakes today, but each week we’re running better and better as a team. We tweak that just a little bit more, and I’m still hoping we can get that top 10 or top 15 finish nationally.”
The National Meet will be run at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana on Saturday.