The 2010 Hope College women's cross country season holds great promise thanks to a pre-season roster that is highlighted by a solid group of returning veterans.
The 2009 Flying Dutch finished second in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and sixth in the Great Lakes Regional of NCAA Division III.
Coach Mark Northuis begins his 22nd 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. The team has been a top ten finisher at regionals six times over the past decade.
The pre-season roster of 46 athletes includes 19 returning letterwinners. There are 17 freshmen, 14 sophomores, eight juniors and seven seniors.
The tri-captains are seniors Sarah Anthony of Mt. Pleasant (Mt. Pleasant HS), Claire Bird of New Paltz, N.J. (New Paltz HS), and Emily Fischer of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS).
A year ago five Dutch received All-MIAA recognition. Honored for the second time were Emily Fischer, junior Kelly Lufkin of Houghton (Houghton HS), senior Susan Savasky of Berkley (Marion HS), and junior Karly Sikma of Grand Rapids (North Pointe Christian HS). A first-time honoree was sophomore Taylor Mattarella of Traverse City (Traverse City Central HS) who was also named the team's Rookie of the Year and later in the year received All-MIAA honors in track.
Hope's top five finishers at the Great Lakes Regional all return - Emily Fischer, junior Kate Nelson of Williamston (Williamston HS), Taylor Mattarella, sophomore Katie Martin of Portage (Portage Central HS), and Claire Bird.
Other returning letterwiners include junior Alyssa Ambrose of Okemos (Okemos HS), senior Kate Brundige of Vicksburg (Vicksburg HS), junior Salome Emmanuel of Wheaton, Ill. (Wheaton North HS), junior Katrina Gobrogge of Napoleon, Ohio (Archbold HS), sophomore Sharon Hecker of Grandville (Grandville HS), junior Chelsea Holicki of Coldwater (Coldwater HS), sophomore Morgan McCardel of Traverse City (St. Francis HS), senior Elle Munoa of Holland (West Ottawa HS), junior Gina O'Brien of Saline (Saline HS), and sophomore Morgan Smith of Grand Rapids (Forest Hills Eastern HS).
The Flying Dutch also excelled in the classroom in 2009-10 receiving Team Academic All-America honors from the College Cross Country Association for the 20th consecutive year and the MIAA Team GPA award for the 12th straight year.
A highlight on the schedule will occur late in the season when Hope hosts the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional championship on Saturday, Nov. 13, at the West Ottawa Golf Course.