On Friday, Sept. 15, the men’s and women’s cross country teams headed to East Lansing to compete in the MSU Spartan invitational where they took 11th place overall.
The teams were competing against a wide range of teams including Michigan State, Grand Valley, CMU, and Albion.
With SVSU being a NCAA Division II program, the runners try to step it up while competing against the larger, more resourceful Division I teams. Head coach Rod Cowan, however, looks at this competition as a positive for his team.
“It’s certainly a challenge for (SVSU runners), but one that they gladly welcome,” Cowan said. “There’s not much separation between ourselves and other schools like Central, Eastern, or Bowling Green … the separation comes in on the high end between teams like Michigan and us.”
Both sides placed 11th overall out of 32 teams competing. The men were led by redshirt freshman Brandon Bohling once again this week. Bohling continued his hot start to the season with a 60th-place finish out of 282 runners at 26:49.6. More Cardinal youth followed him, with sophomore Austen Mandernach taking home 63rd place with a time of 26:56.8. Senior runner Clyde Anderson competed unattached this weekend as well.
Cowan is looking for young Cardinals to continue the upward trend throughout the season. Bohling has led the men in both meets this year, and it doesn’t look as if he will be cooling off anytime soon.
“(Bohling) put in a great summer of training, and I think that’s what we’re seeing right now,” Cowan said. “Usually when our guys start off hot, they finish well.”
Anderson decided to run unattached to save his redshirt in the case of an injury. Being a veteran on the team, he is used to large meets.
“Last year, we actually made it to nationals, and that meet compared to this, the nerves there are much greater,” Anderson said. “Something like this doesn’t really bother me much.”
The fourth-year runner was also happy with how his younger teammates handled the huge venue.
“(The freshmen) were having the jitters a little, but overall, I think it didn’t make too much of an impact,” Anderson said.
Youth was also key for the women, who were led by freshman Maggie Pawelczyk. She finished 44th out of 300 women competing with a time of 23:05.8.
“She’s just tough,” Cowan said. “She’s just absolutely crazy about running. What we’re seeing from her right now is a lot of passion and grit.”
Junior runner Sophia Bradley had a strong finish at 55th, only 25 seconds behind her freshman teammate. Alicia Tomlin ended the race in 63rd place at 23:52.4, and four more Cardinals finishing in the top 100.
Bradley, looking to redeem herself after missing out on the 2016 GLIAC Championships, was encouraged with how her fellow runners competed.
“I was very happy with how we did,” she said. “We run together in a pack a lot more tightly than we have in the past years, and our spread is really good.”
The teams travel to Louisville, Kentucky, for their next meet on Sept. 30 to compete at the Greater Louisville Classic.