posted August 22, 2007

Vanderbilt Invitational Launches Cross Country Season

The small college cross country season begins Saturday (Sept. 1) with the traditional Vanderbilt Invitational hosted by Hope College. The meet will be run at the Ridge Point Church on Holland's southeast side beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Started in 1966, the meet is named in honor of William Vanderbilt, Sr. who coached the Hope cross country program from 1971-87. A 1961 Hope graduate, Vanderbilt guided Hope cross country teams to 17 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championships, 14 by the men and three by the women. He coached current Hope cross country coach Mark Northuis who was an All-MIAA distance runner.

While at Hope, Vanderbilt chaired the department of physical education, recreation and athletics. He also served as president of the NCAA Division III Cross Country Coaches Association and in 1987 brought the Division III national championships to Holland. As a student-athlete, he lettered in basketball, baseball and track. He was captain of the basketball team as a senior and won the MIAA championship in the high jump in 1959. He received the masters degree from the University of Michigan and the Ph.D. from the University of Utah. Vanderbilt left the Hope faculty in 1988.

The first invitational was held in men's cross country in 1966. The women's cross country component was added in 1980.

In 2006, Hope won the women's invitational while Cornerstone captured the men's.

The Vanderbilt Invitational will be Hope's only home meet this season.


A blend of returning letterwinners and athletes new to Hope cross country are reason for optimism as the Flying Dutchmen approach the 2007 season.

The 2006 Flying Dutchmen finished second in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and were fifth at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional, Hope's best finish since 1991.

Coach Mark Northuis begins his 19th season at the helm of the Hope cross country program. He also coaches the distance runners in Hope's track and field program.

The pre-season roster includes 14 returning letterwinners. There are nine freshmen, five sophomores, six juniors and five seniors.

Co-captains of the team are seniors Seth Weener of Grandville (Grandville HS) and Nick Zendler of Flint (Carmen-Ainsworth HS).

Returning runners who achieved All-MIAA distinction in 2006 include Seth Weener, and junior Rob Bailey of Portage, Ind. (Portage HS). Weener competed in the NCAA Division III championships.

Other returning letterwinners include sophomore Eric Anderson of Ann Arbor (Pioneer HS), sophomore Ryan Jara of Commerce Township (Walled Lake North HS), junior Zach King of Portage (Portage Northern HS), senior Jeff Layman of Holland (West Ottawa HS), junior Carl Morrison of Pickford (Pickford HS), junior James Ralston of Holly (Fenton HS), sophomore Ryan Summers of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS), senior Jason Todd of Niles (Niles HS), junior Paul VanderVelde of Lawrence, Kan. (Free State HS), sophomore Matt Wiersum of Minnetonka, Minn. (Minnetonka HS), and sophomore Lucas Wotlhuis of Vicksburg (Vicksburg HS).



A young but experienced team should put the Flying Dutch in the thick of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) race this fall.

In 2006 coach Mark Northuis' Flying Dutch finished runnerup in the MIAA and 10th at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.

Coach Northuis begins his 19th season at the helm of the Hope cross country program. He also coaches the distance runners in Hope's track and field program.

The pre-season roster of 26 runners includes 12 returning letterwinners. There are eight freshmen, eight sophomores, eight juniors and five seniors.

Tri-captains are senior Lydia Hartsell of Alexandria, Minn. (Jefferson HS), senior Anne Hoekstra of Kalamazoo (Loy Norrix HS), and junior Molly Nyboer of Spring Lake (SpringLakeHS).

Anne Hoekstra received All-MIAA honors in 2006. She has been All-MIAA three consecutive years, first team in 2004 and second team in both 2005 and 2006. Junior Sarah Multer of Plainwell (Plainwell HS) was All-MIAA second team in 2005 and senior Charlotte Meeker of Traverse City (TC Christian HS) received the honor in 2004. Sophomore Amy Kamps of North Muskegon (North Muskegon HS) was named the team top newcomer in 2006.

Other returning letterwinners include sophomore Jacqueline Ellis of Lebanon, Ohio (Lebanon HS), sophomore Sara Gosses of Amherst, Ohio (Amherst Steele HS), sophomore Emma Lucas of Cadillac (Cadillac HS), sophomore Meghan Scholl of Hillsdale (Hillsdale HS), sophomore Faith Whitehouse of Manton (Manton HS), and junior Rebekah Woods of Lowell (Lowell HS).