Calvin Women's Cross Country Team Captures Third Straight MIAA Title

Calvin Women's Cross Country Team Captures Third Straight MIAA Title

Provided by Calvin

By Gina de Haan

On a crisp, sunny Saturday afternoon, the Calvin women's cross-country team braved the chilly weather and earned its third consecutive MIAA championship at the Gainey Athletic Complex. The Knights won the league title with a score of 27 points, dominating the field of contenders. Hope finished second with 55 points while Albion tallied 95 points, placing third.

The Knights previously finished 39 points ahead of the second-place team, Hope, at the MIAA Jamboree in September, cruising to victory with a total of 20 points.

Defending their title, sixth-ranked Calvin placed five runners in the top ten. Sophomore Cassie Vince (Amherst, OH/Amherst HS) was the race winner and was named MIAA MVP, clocking in with a course-record time of 21:10 originally set by Esther Erb at the 2007 Great Lakes Regional meet. Shortly behind Vince was sophomore Lauren Strohbehn (Stillwater, MN/St. Croix Preparatory) who took third (21:57).

Finishing in sixth place was senior Sarah Danner (22:39). Also placing in the top ten, tying for fourth, were seniors Kimby Penning (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and Kate Ardinger (Elmhurst, IL/Timothy Christian HS) (22:40).

Senior Paige McGahan (Brighton/Brighton HS) and sophomore Hope Gaffner (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS) rounded out Calvin's top seven; McGahan finished 13th (22:57), followed by Gaffner who finished 14th (23:02).

"We are coming together. We have a very strong women's squad," said Calvin head women's cross country coach Brian Diemer.

"Cassie (Vince) is one of the best in the nation. Lauren (Strohbehn) has really developed. We have really developed as a women's squad. We are very strong, very deep, and it's just fun to go into regionals knowing that some great things could happen."

Despite his team's repeated success, Diemer doesn't take any victory for granted. "It's always important to compete and bring your best. You compete on the course or on the track and then you leave it there. Good clean competition is something that helps you strive to be your best and that is what we're trying to do here at Calvin all the time, trying to develop and be the best that we can be. The MIAA is healthy and well and it's a great conference. We competed well today. It was fun."

The Calvin men's cross-country team also took first at the MIAA championships, winning their 28th consecutive title. With this pair of victories, Coach Diemer has now won 36 MIAA titles, making him the winningest coach in MIAA history for all sports. Diemer passes coaching legend George Acker, former Kalamazoo College tennis coach who won 35 MIAA championships.

This achievement is something that Diemer humbly credits to his team and coaches. "Al Hoekstra (Calvin's assistant cross-country coach) has been alongside of me every step of the way, and it's been a lot of fun. We do have a coaching staff that has just works so well together, everybody doing their parts. We coach just how we expect our athletes to act, and that is as a team, each person bringing what they can to the table. When you have leaders, whether they're freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors or coaches, and when everyone is living a life that reinforces the values that they have, good things happen. I can't believe that time has gone this fast. I really can't believe it. I'm not that old, so I don't know where this time has gone, but it's been a lot of fun."

On Saturday, November 15, the Knights will travel to Wilmington College (OH) to compete in the NCAA III Great Lakes Regional.