The men’s and women’s cross country team finished in second place and fourth place overall, respectively, in the GLIAC Championship.
The meet took place on Saturday, Oct. 21, at Northern Michigan University.
Grand Valley finished first on both sides to extend its championship winning streak to 16 consecutive seasons.
Associate head coach Jason Hartmann had high praise for GVSU, which has earned respect from all over the nation.
“They have a strong team culture, they have a lot of guys who are committed to it and they have a lot of talent,” Hartmann said. “They do a great job and have an outstanding program.”
SVSU has been looking to dethrone their rival for some time and have been closing the gap each year under head coach Rod Cowan with steady improvements in placing.
The men were led by junior Parker Eisengruber, who finished 12th overall with a time of 25:58.3.
Hartmann has seen the improvement in his veteran runner as the season begins to wind down.
“It’s just growing confidence,” Hartmann said. “When you have good performances, you have a little more belief in your ability. … Hopefully it’s just the beginning for him.”
Eisengruber, too, thinks his biggest upside has been mental.
“Personally, my biggest improvement this year has been working on confidence and getting mentally stronger,” he said. “The training has been going well, which helps, but also learning to take a positive out of each situation so I can grow from it.”
He is also looking for big things for his team in two weeks at the Midwest Regionals, set for Nov. 4 in Cedarville, Ohio.
“We are feeling good because there is still time to improve and grow from today,” he said. “The biggest thing for us is going to be taking care of ourselves off the track, making sure we’re getting to bed on time and doing everything we can to be healthy and ready for battle.”
Following Eisengruber was sophomore runner Timmy Kimball in 13th place, crossing the line in 26:04.8. That was Kimball’s highest finish of the season.
Senior Clyde Anderson was the third Cardinal to finish, taking 18th place in 26:13.4.
Hartmann credited fundamentals for the men’s success.
“Well, I think it’s a fitness thing … kids working together, committing and running a smart race pace,” Hartmann said.
The women, who finished in fifth place last year, improved by one place for the second consecutive season.
Freshman Maggie Pawelczyk had another stellar performance as she led her team with a 13th-place finish with a time of 22:51.6.
“Going into the race, I felt nervous,” Pawelczyk said. “But I also felt my coach set me up for success, so I wasn’t worried.”
Hartmann was impressed with his young runner, especially on such a big stage.
“She was a good high school talent, and she was able to adapt to college-level running and training pretty well,” he said.
Right behind her was redshirt freshman Morgan Fuerst in 17th, finishing with a time of 22:57.2.
Pawelczyk believes in her team’s success going into the next race after their strong performance.
“Going into regionals, my mindset is positive, knowing I have a strong team and great coach that will set us up for success,” she said. “Plus, with the way we finished (Saturday), I think we have a really good shot at nationals.”