The SVSU cross country teams managed to pull out top-10 finishes in the Midwest Regionals in Cedarville, Ohio, on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Of the 28 teams that competed in the event this past weekend, the men’s team took sixth place while the women placed ninth.
Grand Valley State topped the field on both sides, while fellow GLIAC teams, like Walsh and Michigan Tech, placed in the top-10 as well.
The women improved from last year, when they finished 13th in regionals, and were led by freshman phenom Maggie Pawelczyk.
Pawelczyk took 27th overall with a time of 22:26.1 and was followed by redshirt freshman Morgan Fuerst, who took 31st in 22:33.9.
Sydney Kreger was next to cross the line in 50th place with a time of 23:02. Senior Alicia Tomlin took home 82nd place, while junior Darby Meinecke tailed right behind in 83rd.
Tomlin ran her final cross country race of her career on Saturday. She was proud of her team’s accomplishments.
“I’m very happy with how the team did overall,” she said. “We had a lot of great performances from everyone this season … everyone worked really hard, and you can tell every person wanted to do their best.”
She also reflected on her time as an SVSU cross country competitor and the camaraderie that she will be missing now that the season is over.
“I am definitely going to miss the team aspect the most,” Tomlin said. “The girls have been my family for the past four years, and I don’t know what I will do without them.”
Assistant coach Jason Hartmann was pleased with the improvement the women showed this year and hopes that this upward trajectory spills over when the time comes to suit up for next season.
“They competed well,” he said. “It’s a situation where they are trying to get better … and really get ready for next year.”
The men had yet another impressive outing with a plethora of solid performances from the team.
Sophomore Timmy Kimball led the Cardinals with a 19th place finish in 31:56.5. Junior Parker Eisengruber followed closely behind in 20th place with a time of 32:01.4.
Team leader Clyde Anderson took home 27th place with a time of 32:25, with sophomore Austen Mandernach following behind in 36th place.
Freshman Branden Bohling took 43rd while being followed by Kavi Kulkarni and Tellis Donajkowski to finish out the race for the Cardinals.
Anderson, a senior, pointed out the mentality necessary to provide what it takes for his team to stay on track throughout a season.
“It starts with how we live our lives,” he said. “When Coach Hartmann came in and restructured our program, we concurrently restructured our lives to accommodate and further (our) success. What we do in our lives and practice will translate to consistency in our races.”
He also has high hopes when selection Monday comes around, pointing to the deep, talented roster that his team possesses as the reason for their potential success, given the chance.
“Our depth is what carries us so well,” he said. “We can still contend well on a national stage if we qualify.”
The senior runner also reminisced on his career and season, as well as what he enjoyed most as his running career wound down at the meet.
“What I’ll miss most is the camaraderie amongst our team,” he said. “I had never felt such pride in my teammates to grind alongside them and, more importantly, see the growth every one of them has made in this season,” he said. “Cross country has taught me selflessness, commitment, and integrity.”
Hartmann had positive things to say about the guys as well.
“They pulled it together really well and did really good things on the day,” he said. “I feel like they represented our program in a positive light.”
The race was the final of the season for the ladies, while the men are waiting to hear today whether they have qualified for nationals.
Division II Nationals will take place on Saturday, Nov. 18th in Evansville, Indiana.