By Ben Hop
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Calvin men's cross country team took first place in a cold and muddy Great Lakes Regional meet with a team score of 43, receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA III Championships.
Calvin's regional title is its 21st in the last 24 years.
Also receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA III Championship and finishing second was Otterbein with a score of 64. John Carroll finished 3rd (90 points). Case Western finished 4th (112 points). And Trine finished out the top 5 with 162 points.
Calvin will be making its 35th trip to the NCAA III Championships which ranks third on the all-time Division III men's cross country list for team appearances.
Calvin Junior Jonathan Ellis finished (Baltimore, MD. / Towson) 2nd overall individual with a time of 24:03.
Senior Tyler Johnson (Springfield, Ill. / Pleasant Plains), Calvin's second finisher placed 3rd overall with a time of 24:07. Senior Caleb Ferguson (Naperville, Ill./ Neuqua Valley) finished 8th overall and Calvin's third with a time of 24:23. Sophomore Ryan Vreeke (Lakewood, Ca / Valley Christian) finished 12th overall as Calvin's fourth with a time of 24:30. Senior Addison Smith (Seoul, South Korea / Seoul Foreign School) finished 18th overall as Calvin's fifth with a time of 24:34.
Freshman Brandan Knepper (Mechanicsburg, Pa. / Mechanicsburg) finished 35th overall with a time of 24:54. Junior Justin Varineau (Grand Rapids, Mi. / Grand Rapids Christian) finished 52nd overall with a time of 25:16.
"We ran a very mature race," said Calvin head cross country coach Brain Diemer. "We got split up early after a sharp turn but we patiently worked to get back together, which showed a lot of maturity. The resolve of our guys showed to run as a team and finish it off come through. They closed very well in the last two thousand meters and I'm really proud of the growth in these guys. They handled the course conditions well, but it was tough, and it makes it a very brutal course. This was a strength race and we are a strength-based team; we do a lot of work so that they can handle days like today."
Chase Hampton of Otterbein was the individual champion with a time of 24:02.
By finishing in the top 35, Ellis, Johnson, Ferguson, Vreeke, Smith and Knepper all earned spots on the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association Great Lakes All-Region Team.
CALVIN GREAT LAKES REGIONAL TITLE TEAMS