The SVSU men’s and women’s cross country teams kicked off the 2018 campaign with second-and-third place finishes, respectively, at the Calvin Knights Invite on Saturday, Sept. 8.
The two teams treated the race as a preview of the conference championship, as it is the same course they’ll race on Saturday, Nov. 3, for the GLIAC Championships. The two teams still lifted weights on Friday, Sept. 7, and weren’t tapered off for the race, choosing to still train at high mileages leading up to Saturday.
“On both sides, big leaps were made from last year’s freshmen after having a year of collegiate experience and training under their belts,” said women’s distance coach Angelina Ramos.
The men’s team, which ran an 8K race, scored a second-place finish despite competing with only half of its squad. The other half will compete Friday, Sept. 14 at the Spartan Invitation in East Lansing.
Leading the entire men’s race was SVSU senior Tom Goforth, whose time of 24:53.4 was good for a first-place finish, edging out second-place Tony Floyd from Madonna University by just over three seconds. SVSU freshman Ryan Talbott had an impressive 12th-place finish with a time of 25:41.9, a personal best.
“I felt very relaxed throughout the first three quarters of the race, and our coach really emphasized how important it was to run in a pack and with our teammates as long as we could until we were comfortable enough to make a move,” Talbott said. “I feel like following that really helped me capitalize the last couple kilometers of the race.”
Junior Austen Mandernach finished in 16th with a time of 25.58, and junior Timmy Kimball finished in 27th with a time of 26:19.3.
“On the men’s side, I’m most impressed by the weight room strength coupled with the racing aggressiveness and tactical knowhow amongst the underclassmen,” Ramos said. “Their team has a depth that the conference probably doesn’t realize right now, but that will showcase throughout the year.”
On the women’s side, competitors ran a 5K, and SVSU treated the race as a workout, maintaining a controlled pace for the first two miles before breaking free and catching competitors in the last mile.
The best SVSU finisher was senior Allison Dorr, who came in fourth with a time of 18:22. Because of the way the women’s team ran the race, Dorr went from 29th after the first mile to 25th after the second mile before moving all the way up to fourth by the end of the race.
“Both (Goforth and Dorr) race with a confidence about them that has been built through not just years of work put in and victories, but from bouncing back from adversity and tough races as well,” Ramos said. “They both have fuel for the fire, and they execute upon it.”
Sophomore Morgan Fuerst finished 20th with a time of 19:00.5, and Jenna Keiser wasn’t far behind in 28th with a time of 19:08.7, a personal best for the sophomore.
“I knew that there would be a high potential of me being able to PR,” Keiser said. “Which I did, which was a super great feeling. I really surprised myself, and it makes me very excited for the remainder of the season.”
Rounding out the top-40 was SVSU sophomore Maggie Pawelczyk, finishing in 35th with a time of 19:20.2.
“Us placing third was a pleasant surprise with it just being the beginning of the season and us being out there under heavy training,” Keiser said.
The teams compete this Friday, Sept. 14, at the Spartan Invitation at Michigan State University.