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 Community 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, Cornerstone, Grace Bible and Muskegon Community, in addition to some invited unattached runners.
Albion is the two-time defending men's champion while Hope will be seeking its third consecutive women's title.