Calvin Christian defends its Division 3 boys cross country state title

Calvin Christian defends its Division 3 boys cross country state title

Provided by Steve Vedder | The Grand Rapids Press

BROOKLYN -- No matter how many times Calvin Christian boys cross country coach Laurens TenKate tried to map out the Division 3 state meet, there was one inescapable fact: The outcome for Saturday’s meet at the Michigan International Speedway was too close to call.

Lansing Catholic Central had four all-staters, but a Squires team with four top-10 finishers successfully defended its state title with 56 points, nine less than the runner-up Cougars.

TenKate said all along he thought the meet would come down to matchup between the Squires and Lansing Catholic Central.

"We knew it would be really, really close," TenKate said. "I thought they had us, but a couple other people thought we had them by a touch. You never know."

Headed by a second-place finish in team scoring by senior Josh Kersjes, the Squires took four of the top eight places, then added a critical 36th place by Andrew Rylaarsdam to clinch the meet. The combination was enough to overcome all five Catholic Central runners finishing among the top 29 in team scoring.

"We were definitely nervous. We knew it would be exciting," Kersjes said. "I felt like it was slow course. Not to make excuses, but it was windy and a little muddy. But I feel it’s like that every year."

TenKate said Rylaarsdam’s ability to pass a handful of runners late in the meet was critical.

"That may have been the difference," TenKate said. "We knocked six, eight, 10 points off our score. We had four runners in the top 10, and then with Catholic Central, how do you not win with (four) all-staters? But it’s a team thing."

The Squires’ Zac Nowicki was fourth, Simon Reidsma sixth and Justus Pinckney eighth in the team scoring.

While Calvin Christian won the Division 3 meet, the Grand Rapids area did well in the Division 2 meet. Ionia finished was third, Cedar Springs fourth, Grand Rapids Christian fifth and Sparta sixth.

The highest area placer in Division 1 was Rockford, which finished seventh.

Cedar Springs junior Connor Mora was third overall in Division 2 with a time of 15:33.2. He was fifth a year ago and 15th as a freshman.

"It was a little less than I expected, but the other two runners ahead of me ran really good races," he said. "It was windy and there was some soft ground, and I think it took a little toll on everyone."