Women's Cross Country Qualifies for NCAA III Championships With Second Place Finish

Women's Cross Country Qualifies for NCAA III Championships With Second Place Finish

Provided by Calvin

POWELL, Oh. - For the 13th consecutive year, the Calvin women's cross country team is headed to the NCAA III Championships.

The Knights surprised the Great Lakes Regional field on Saturday by placing second with a team score of 113 points. The Knights finished four points ahead of third place Allegheny to nab one of the two automatic qualifying berths to next week's NCAA III Championships. Calvin entered the race ranked fifth in the Great Lakes Region but the Knights placed five runners in the top 35 to finish strong as a team.

Junior Katie Diekema (Kenmore, Washington, Ingelmoor HS) had a strong performance, finishing eighth with a time of 22:32. Diekema ran up with the lead pack for nearly the entire 6K race before settling into eighth over the final 600 meters.

Senior Marissa McGahan (Brighton, Mich./Brighton HS) was 19th in 23:00 as she was Calvin's second finisher. Close behind were sophomore Michelle Koetje (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) in 27th (23:10) and senior Kate McLain (Kalamazoo, Mich./Kalamazoo Christian HS) in 28th (23:15).

Senior Hope Gaffner (Hudsonville, Mich./Unity Christian HS) was Calvin's all-important fifth finisher, placing 31st in a time of 23:20 on the Liberty Park Course.

Junior Catherine Croft (Grand Rapids, Mich./Coopersville HS) had a stellar race, finishing 45th in 23:32. Sophomore Sarah Ball (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) also had a big day, finishing 50th in 23:39.

"I am so proud of this group," said Calvin head cross country coach Brian Diemer. "They had no fear today. They did not want their season to be over after today. There was a strong desire to run at nationals and everyone ran with grit and heart. We have had to work through some injuries this year but some of our runners are returning to form. I am particularly happy for Hope Gaffner. She has had to overcome obstacles this season but she refused to back down. Marissa McGahan was another individual who was a real leader today. She had her eyes on a pack of runners ahead of her and she refused to let them get away from her. Katie Diekema also had a great race. She is regaining her confidence and form and I think she will run very well next week."

By finishing in the top 35, Diekema, McGahan, Koetje, McLain and Gaffner also receive Great Lakes All-Region honors.

Calvin was part of a one-two MIAA finish at the regional meet as Hope won the meet with a team score of 88 points.

Linnea Halsten of Oberlin won Saturday's race with a time of 21:37.

Calvin will be making its 28th overall appearance at the NCAA III Championships next Saturday.

The national meet will be hosted by Principia College in Elsah, Illinois.