The small college cross country season begins Saturday (August 30) 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.
Joining Hope will be teams from Albion, Concordia of Ann Arbor, Cornerstone and Grace Bible.
Cornerstone is the defending champion in both the men's and women's races.
The Vanderbilt Invitational will be Hope's only home meet this season.
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY OUTLOOK
A solid core of experienced returning upperclassmen will be key to the success of the Hope College men's cross country team in 2008.
The 2007 Flying Dutchmen finished third in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).
Mark Northuis begins his third decade as coach of the Hope cross country program. In 20 seasons under Coach Northuis, the Flying Dutchmen have finished third or higher every year in the conference standings.
This year's squad returns four runners who achieved all-conference honors a year ago. Rob Bailey from Portage, Ind. (Portage HS) was a first-team honoree while Zach King from Portage, Mich. (Portage Northern HS); Paul VanderVelde from Lawrence, Kan. (Free State HS); and Matt Wiersum, from Minnetonka, Minn. (Minnetonka HS) were named to the second team. Bailey, King and VanderVelde are seniors while Wiersum is a junior.
Bailey finished seventh at the conference championship meet and was the only runner not from Calvin to receive All-MIAA first team recognition.
The team also returns Seth Weener of Grandville, Mich. (Grandville HS) as a fifth-year senior. He was an All-MIAA cross country honoree in 2006. Last spring he was the MIAA track & field champion in the 1,500-meter run.
The pre-season roster of 29 athletes includes 18 returning letterwinners. There are eight freshmen, six sophomores, six juniors and nine seniors.
Bailey and VanderVelde will be co-captains. Other returning letterwinners include junior Eric Anderson of Ann Arbor, Mich. (Pioneer HS), sophomore Carl Dunker of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (Seaholm HS), sophomore Kevin Hagan of Okemos, Mich. (Okemos HS), junior Ryan Jara of Commerce Township (Walled Lake North HS), junior Collin Kooy of Metamora, Mich. (Flint Powers HS), and sophomore Brett May of Rockford, Mich. (Rockford HS).
Also, senior James Ralston of Holly, Mich. (Fenton HS), senior Kent Reschke of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS), sophomore Jordan Richardson of Reading, Mich. (Reading HS), senior Joseph Seymour of Holland, Mich. (Holland HS), senior Daniel Sultz of Benzie, Mich. (Benzie Central HS), junior Ryan Summers of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS), junior Lucas Wolthuis of Vicksburg, Mich. (Vicksburg HS).
The Flying Dutchmen also excelled in the classroom in 2007-08 receiving Team Academic All-America honors from the College Cross Country Coaches Association for the 17th time over 18 years. Four returning cross country athletes were named to the 2007-08 MIAA Academic Honor Roll - Rob Bailey, Luke Eastburg, James Ralston, David Todd.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY OUTLOOK
A blend of returning letterwinners and athletes new to the Hope cross country program should put the Flying Dutch in the thick of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) race this fall.
The 2007 Flying Dutch finished third in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).
Mark Northuis begins his third decade as coach of the Hope cross country program. In 20 seasons under coach Northuis, the Flying Dutch have always finished no lower than in third place in the MIAA standings.
The pre-season roster of 28 athletes includes 15 returning letterwinners. There are seven freshmen, 12 sophomores, four juniors and five seniors.
The co-captains will be seniors Sarah Multer of Plainwell, Mich. (Plainwell HS) and Rebekah Woods of Lowell, Mich. (Lowell HS).
Sophomore Susan Savasky of Berkley (Marion HS) achieved All-MIAA second team honors last fall while senior Kate Freshour of Bloomington, Ill. (Olympia HS) was an All-MIAA second team honoree in 2006. Freshour also received All-MIAA recognition in track & field last spring.
Other returning letterwinners include sophomore Claire Bird of New Paltz, N.Y. (New Paltz HS), sophomores Kate Brundige of Vicksburg, Mich. (Vicksburg HS), sophomore Kelsey Engle of Park Ridge, Ill. (Maine South HS), sophomore Emily Fischer of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS), sophomore Joanne Gabl of Saline, Mich. (Saline HS), junior Sara Gosses of Amherst, Ohio (Amherst Steele HS), senior Holly Grieving of Grandville, Mich. (Grandville HS), junior Emma Lucas of Cadillac, Mich. (Cadillac HS), sophomore Andrea Miller of Algonquin, Ill. (Dundee Crown HS), sophomore Elle Munoa of Holland, Mich. (West Ottawa HS), and junior Faith Whitehouse of Manton (Manton HS).
The Flying Dutch also excelled in the classroom in 2007-08 receiving Team Academic All-America honors from the College Cross Country Coaches Association for the 18th consecutive year. Ten returning Flying Dutch were named to the 2007-08 MIAA Academic Honor Roll - Kate Brundige, Joanne Gabl, Sara Gosses, Emma Lucas, Andrea Miller, Sarah Multer, Molly Nyboer, Sara Tyler, Faith Whitehouse and Rebekah Woods.