posted July 31, 2012

2012 Pre-Season Cross Country Outlooks

The cross country season at Hope College begins with the traditional home Vanderbilt Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 1.

MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY

The Flying Dutchmen look to build on a successful 2011 season during which they finished second in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and sixth among 33 teams in the Great Lakes Region of NCAA Division III. Hope just missed consideration for an at-large bid to nationals, finishing only two points behind the fifth place team.

Hope has a long history of competitiveness in the MIAA and NCAA. Under veteran coach Mark Northuis the past 23 seasons, the team has finished third or higher every year in the conference standings and has been in the top ten in the Great Lakes Region eight of the last nine seasons.

The pre-season roster of 38 runners includes 23 returning letterwinners. There are 12 freshman prospects along with six sophomores, 11 juniors and nine seniors.

Co-captains are seniors Will Hewitt of Grand Haven (Grand Haven HS), Blake Rottschafer of Spring Lake (Spring Lake HS), and Chris Ryan of Vicksburg (Vicksburg HS).

Rottschafer and sophomore Ben Zank of Midland (H.H. Dow HS) were named to MIAA all-conference second team in 2011. Zank was chosen the team's best newcomer while Jesse Henkel of Mason (Mason HS) was honored as the most improved runner. Last spring senior Joel Rietsema of Rockford (Rockford HS) achieved NCAA All-America track and field honors in 800 meters.

Four returnees scored points in the 2011 league championships and NCAA Regional -- Blake Rottschafer, Chris Ryan, Ben Zank and junior Tom Smeltzer of Frankfort (Benzie Central HS).

Link to Men's Cross Country Website
http://www.hope.edu/athletics/mcc/

WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY

The Flying Dutch will be seeking to repeat as champions of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and bid for a third consecutive trip to the NCAA championships.

The 2011 Flying Dutch captured their first MIAA title since 2004, were fourth at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and finished 21st in a field of 32 teams at nationals. A characteristic of the team was the ability for the top five runners to finish in a pack. At the league championships just 18 seconds separated Hope's five runners and the difference at nationals was 19 seconds.

Coach Mark Northuis begins his 24th season at the helm of the Hope cross country program. Under his leadership the Flying Dutch have finished third or higher every season in the MIAA standings and has been a top ten finisher at Regionals eight times over the past decade.

The pre-season roster of 39 runners includes 14 returning letterwinners. There are 13 freshman prospects along with 10 sophomores, 12 juniors and four seniors.

The senior co-captains are both from Traverse City, Taylor Mattarella a graduate of Traverse City Central HS and Morgan McCardel from St. Francis HS.

The Flying Dutch return four runners who achieved All-MIAA recognition in 2011. Junior Sheri McCormack of Holland (West Ottawa) was a first team honoree while second team returnees include junior Camilie Borst of Allendale (Allendale HS), McCardel, and junior Meredith Busman of Coopersville (Coopersville HS).

McCormack was named both the most improved and most valuable runner a year agp. She was also an All-MIAA track honoree last spring.

Senior Sharon Hecker of Grandville (Grandville) returns after studying off-campus last fall. She was an All-MIAA cross country honoree in 2010 and honored by the conference last spring.

Link to Women's Cross Country Website
http://www.hope.edu/athletics/wcc/