WEST OLIVE - The championship streak continues for the Calvin men's cross country program. For the 27th consecutive year, the Calivn men's cross country team has captured the outright MIAA title. The championship streak is the MIAA's longest string of outright conference championships. Ranked 16th nationally, Calvin claimed the outright crown by taking first place at Saturday's MIAA Championships hosted by Hope at the West Ottawa Golf Course with a first place team score of 28 points. Hope took second with 59 points, edging Albion (61 points) by a two-point margin.
One streak that did come to an end was a 26-year streak of a Calvin runner taking first place at the MIAA Championships race. On Saturday, Albion senior Paul Lewis took first place in a time of 25:12 while Albion teammate Mitchell Klingler was second in 25:19.
Calvin's pack was strong however as the Knights placed seven runners in the top 11 including three in the top five.
Junior Josh Ferguson (Naperville, IL/Neuqua Valley HS) was Calvin's top finisher, placing third in a time of 25:42 while freshman Zac Nowicki (Comstock Park/Calvin Christian HS) was fourth in 25:45 and senior Philip Spitzer (Buckley/Buckley HS) fifth in 25:46. Sophomore Jeff Meitler (New Berlin, WI/Milwaukee Lutheran HS) was seventh in 25:57 followed by freshman Nathan Van Haitsma (Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) in ninth (26:00), senior Sam Kerk (Hartland, WI/Lake Country Lutheran HS) in 10th (26:03) and junior Steven Haagsma (Grandville/Calvin Christian HS) in 11th (26:03).
Calvin head coach Brian Diemer has been at the helm of all 27 MIAA titles during the current championship streak and on Saturday he was pleased. "In many ways this was one of our best team performances of the year," said Diemer. "Josh Ferguson had perhaps the best race of his colleigate career and Philip Spitzer was terrific. I thought Jeff Meitler also took a big step forward too along with some of our other runners. I like what I see with this team. We are coming together at the right time."
After the race, the all-conference awards were announced. The all-conference spots are determined by a cumulative point system earned by individual finishes at both the MIAA Jamboree and MIAA Championships.
Calvin landed five runners on the All-MIAA first team and four runners on the All-MIAA second team. Named to the first team from Calvin were Ferguson, Nowicki, Spitzer, Van Haitsma and Meitler.
Named to the second team from Calvin were Kerk, junior Jacob Kuyvenhoven (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), sophomore Brett Habura (Washingtonville, NY/Washingtonville HS), freshman Jonathan Schaap (Mahomet, IL/Mahomet-Seymor HS) and senior Gabe Gunnink (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS).
Calvin will now prepare to host the NCAA III Regional meet on November 16 at the Gainey Athletic Complex.