Calvin Men's Cross Country Team Takes Second and Women 18th at NCAA III Championships
Provided by Calvin
Story by Mark DeHaan
TERRE HAUTE, IN - An usually warm day in the middle of November created the perfect setting for the Division III Cross Country National Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Saturday. A Great Lakes Regional Championship and a No. 3 National ranking led to high expectations for the men’s team coming into the day, while an at-large bid for the women made things a little more unknown leading into the race.
The Calvin men responded with a pair of All-American performances from seniors Nick Kramer and Job Christiansen. The Knights held the unofficial lead at the 6-kilometer mark of the race, but a fade down the stretch by a few Calvin runners let the lead slip out of their hands. The Knights finished with 188 points as a team, 21 behind first place North Central and tied with No. 1 ranked Haverford. Wisconsin-La Crosse finished fourth with 190 points.
The women, ranked 15th in the nation coming into the meet, could not grab an All-American spot or a top 100 finish, and took 18th as a team with 413 points.
Kramer, Calvin’s top finisher, took 26th place individually in 25:02.6 despite running with an injury. Christiansen crossed the line next for the Knights, taking 35th in 25:05.6 Senior Dan Kerr came in behind Christiansen at 25:15.1, good for 43rd place as an individual. Rounding out Calvin’s top five was junior Matt VanderRoest, who finished 67th in 25:30.4 and senior David VandeBunte, who took 79th in 25:35.5. Senior Greg Whittle took 90th and was Calvin’s sixth finisher in 25:40.4, while junior Sam Kerk finished in 26:42.1, 223rd as an individual.
“We got out well, except Dan Kerr – it turns out he went down at the 300 meter mark into the race,” said men’s cross country head coach Brian Diemer. “He started out somewhere back behind 100th place, he picked himself up, and ran a fantastic race, finishing in 46th. Nick Kramer ran valiantly coming back from a stress fracture. Job Christiansen ran the race of his life, finishing All-American. Our pack came through – Matt VanderRoest with a stress fracture in his leg, giving it all he had for the team. It honestly took all of these guys coming through to make (2nd place) happen. We ended up tying with Haverford, and beat Wisconsion-Lacrosse, who was fourth place, by two points. It took everybody doing everything they could – its amazing you run a long race like that and it comes down to a small margin.”
“A lot of runners, if they fell like Dan, would have stayed on the ground and been upset because they wouldn’t get their individual award,” said assistant coach Al Hoekstra. “But Dan got up, he fought back for the team, and we got second place. If he hadn’t gotten back up and fought back, we would have been fourth.”
The women’s top finisher was sophomore Kate Ardinger, who came in 100th as an individual in 22:46.6 Freshman McKenzie Diemer followed Ardinger in with a time of 22:52.4, good for 111th. Junior Christine Harley was just behind Diemer, taking 114th in 22:54.3. Senior Alyssa Penning took 132nd in 22:58.4, while younger sister and sophomore Kimby Penning rounded out Calvin’s top five in 149th with a time of 23:07.3 Alyssa Oram finished in 153rd in 23:10.9, while junior Nicole Michmerhuizen took 220th in 23:43.1.
“Up front, we got a little excited – our first two probably got out a little too hard,” said Diemer, also the women’s cross country head coach. “Our pack ran strong, and really finished well, that was neat to see. We came up short, but we developed a lot, and this is going to make us better in the future.”
With the national runner-up performance, Christiansen, Kerr, Kramer, VandeBunte, and Whittle all end their cross country running careers. On the women’s side, Alyssa Penning ran her final cross country race as a Calvin Knight.