Women’s Cross Country Third at NCAAs - Men Take 13th
Saturday, November 21, 2009
CLEVELAND, OH—The top-ranked Calvin women’s cross country team could not overcome an uphill final half-mile in its bid for a national championship on Saturday. Heading into the final mile, the Knights were in position to go for the win but slid back down the stretch of a hilly Highland Park Golf Course to finish 24 points out of first place. Second-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire won the race with a team score of 171 points with St. Lawrence (NY) placing second with 180 points.
Calvin’s top finisher was senior Jessica Koster (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) with a 34th place finish (22:50) that was good for All-America honors.
Senior teammate Jesi Hale (Rehoboth, NM/Gallup HS) just missed an All-America berth (top 35), placing 36th with a time of 22:53. Rounding out Calvin’s finishers were senior Lauren Bergstrom (Rochester, MN/Century HS) in 48th (23:05), sophomore Jodi Hoekstra (Homer Glen, IL/Chicago Christian HS) in 75th (23:22), senior Liz Smit (Kirkland, WA/Bellevue Christian HS) in 95th (23:34), junior Gretchen Braymer (Erie, PA/Collegiate Academy) in 150 (24:03) and senior Sarah Dugan (Freeland/Freeland HS) in 201st (24:36).
Wisconsin-Eau Claire had two All-Americans while St. Lawrence had three including individual national champion Wendy Pavlus with a winning time of 21:28.
“It was a very tough course with unforgiving terrain,” said Calvin head cross country coach Brian Diemer. “We are a strength-based program so we thought we would be in good shape and heading up the final hill, it looked pretty good but we just came up a little short. I’m proud of our women. They gave it their all. It just hurts because we came here to win but I would rather dream big like this team did than sit back and not go for it.”
Assistant coach Al Hoekstra agreed. “The women’s team went for the win and that’s all you can ask for as a coach,” said Hoekstra. “It was a very tough course and we just came up a little short.”
In the men’s race, 15th-ranked Calvin took 13th with a team score of 385 points. Sophomore Nick Kramer (Dyer, IN/Illiana Christian HS) led Calvin with a 49th place time of 26:21 with freshman Matt VanderRoest (Ann Arbor/Ann Arbor Huron HS) close behind in 51st place (26:22). Calvin’s next two runners were senior Aaron Goodman (Milwaukee, WI/Milwaukee Lutheran HS) in 90th (26:40) and senior George Visser (Winfield, IL/West Chicago HS) in 139th (27:01). Calvin’s final three finishers were junior Alex Wrobel (Arden Hills, MN/Mounds View HS) in 182nd (27:23), senior Ben Van Wyk (Sussex, NJ/High Point HS) in 216th (27:43) and sophomore Dan Kerr (Petoskey/Petoskey HS) in 221st (27:45).
“I am extremely proud of this team,” said Diemer. “The fact that we had a sophomore and a freshman that far up is huge for our future. This team planted some seeds for the future with today’s race.”
Hoekstra also stated that several of Calvin’s young runners who did not compete on Saturday also benefited from watching Saturday’s race. “There’s no question that today’s race was not only beneficial to the young guys who competed but also the young runners who watched from the sidelines. They got a first-hand look at what it takes to run at a championship level and that will drive them next year and in the years to come.”
North Central (IL) cruised to a national title, winning with a team score of 50 points. The Cardinals placed five runners in the top 21 and had seven in the top 35 to become the first school in NCAA III cross country history to record seven All-Americans in the same year. The national title is the 13th in North Central men’s cross country history – more than any other NCAA Division III cross country program.