On Friday Oct. 13, the men’s and women’s cross country teams had a strong outing in the Jayhawk Invitational at Muskegon Community College.
The men finished in sixth place with a score of 136. The women, too, had a strong finish, even with a smaller group.
SVSU was joined by a variety of smaller schools including Lansing Community College, Spring Arbor and Hope.
Despite the level of competition, the meet proved to be a significant one.
“(The meet) was to decide the last two to three roster spots for the conference meet,” head coach Rod Cowan said. “We were trying to find out who our eight through 10 guys were going to be, and the same for the ladies’ side.”
The women had a very small and young group on the course with only four girls competing on Friday.
Sophomore Laura Estrada led the Cardinals in 32nd place, boasting a time of 19:49.55. Next for the Cardinals was freshman Kylie Sikkema, finishing 46th overall, crossing the finish line in 20:08.78. Following her was junior Kinzie Sikkema and freshman runner Madison Dean to round out the women.
On the men’s side, Junior Kavi Kulkarni finished in front for the Cardinals, placing 20th with a time of 26:28.58.
He was followed by fellow junior Jordan Walters, who finished the race in 27:04.94. Senior Thomas Kean took 56th place, while sophomore Ryan Silvestri finished 27:41.58. Juniors Tellis Donjanowski and Nick Plude were the final two Cardinals to cross the finish line, ending the race in 74th and 160th place out of a field of 215 runners.
Missing from the team were leaders such as Tom Goforth and Nate Frasier, who finished in second and third place, running unattached.
“Both squads did really well, just going out there quite simply doing what it was that we were asking them to do,” Cowan said.
Cowan’s goal for Friday was to see his team run hard and decide who would round out his roster for next week.
Cowan, now in his seventh year as the Cardinals’ head coach, also has confidence in his team’s abilities going into the Championships.
“We should run well; the team is really taking shape nicely, both the men and the women,” he said. “I feel really good, actually, where we’re at .… I would expect a top three to four finish from each gender.”
Cowan foresees his athletes performing well at such a large meet, and he has confidence in a strong finish for both teams.
“I think, on the women’s side, our freshman, Maggie Pawelczyk, will have a good day …. she’s pretty cool under pressure,” he said. “On the guy’s side, I would expect Parker Eisengruber to lead the charge.”
SVSU competes in the GLIAC Championships next Saturday, Oct. 21, at Northern Michigan University.