As the 2017 cross country season comes to a close, both the men’s and women’s teams now find themselves gearing up for the MIAA Championships hosted by Adrian College on Oct. 28. Competitions throughout the month of September and up to this point in October have favored the women’s team, as the Flying Dutch have placed first in four of their six outings. Behind strong performances from Emily Hamilton (’19), Rachael Webb (’18) and Alexis Guttilla (’18) the team’s outlook is extremely promising. Hamilton’s performance comes on the heels of being named MIAA Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week for the week of Oct. 2. At the 2017 MIAA Jamboree on Sept. 23, the women’s team came in first, with three runners with times under 23-minutes and 14 points between them and the second- place team, Calvin. Hope had a dominant 9 runners place with the top twenty times. The Flying Dutch saw Calvin again on Friday where the margin was not nearly as close. With a broader field of competition at the Jayhawk Cross Country Invitational in Muskegon, MI, Hope finished first with a total of 39 points with the next MIAA school finishing tenth with 268 total points. A widening margin between Hope and the rest of the conference leaves the team’s fans confident that the championship results will continue the winning-trend seen this season. The team is ranked twelfth in the nation as they prepare for the Conference Championship and regional competition where they will be seeking a spot at the national championship.
The Hope men’s team, on the other hand, has a much steeper climb ahead of them. Without a first-place finish as a team, the Flying Dutchmen seek to separate themselves from the middle of the pack with clutch performances this post-season. Ryan Holman (’19) and Jacob Jansen (’18) continue to lead the young team in preparation for the MIAA Championships as they get ready to go against an experienced Calvin team that has proven their strength, scoring only 24 points at the MIAA Jamboree. Runner-up of the Jamboree, Albion, will prove difficult for the Flying Dutchmen at the championships as each of their top-seven runners finished before Hope’s first runner crossed the finish line. In the end, Hope seeks to end the season on a high note by winning the conference championship, taking that momentum into regional competition and competing against the best Division III teams that this region has to offer.
For any chance at this, Hope will need to utilize their young, talented men Joseph Dawson (’20), Ty Hergenrender (’21) and Zackary Murphy (’21) while getting big days out of their veteran runners Jansen, Holman, Nicholai Shaw (’18) and Benjamin Pederson (’18). The beauty of sports is that anything can happen if a team has heart and capitalizes on opportunities.