GRCC Cross Country runs Calvin College Invitational, exceeds expectations

GRCC Cross Country runs Calvin College Invitational, exceeds expectations

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The annual Calvin College Knight Invitational kicks off as racers take to the trail.

The Grand Rapids Community College men’s and women’s cross country teams raced in the Calvin College Invitational this past Saturday with the men’s team finishing fifth overall, out of 16 teams and the women’s team finishing 14th overall, out of 15.

Head Coach Matt Sicilia was happy with how the two teams finished the meet.

“It’s all about your effort because we are still working very hard and we don’t necessarily focus on ‘is this gonna be your best time of the season?’.” Sicilia said. “The ladies did such a great job setting the tone for the first race.”

GRCC freshman runners Jessica Quist and Jackie Jernigan led the way for the Raiders, finishing 64th and 66th. Behind them was Jisel Ochoa finishing in 84th, MeKare Elliot in 89th and Maya McAdory in 99th.

Quist was happy with her time, but thinks she’ll get better as the season progresses.

“I’ve been fighting a really bad cold this past week, but going into

Jessica QuistAvery Jennings
Jessica Quist

the race I was fine,” Quist said. “I started to feel the cold around the 2K section of the race and felt some lightheadedness, but at the last stretch I kicked it in and I felt good.”

Quist finished with a time of 20:54 for the 5K race which is 40 seconds off of her personal record from last year, her senior year of high school at Unity Christian.

“I just need to focus on getting faster and stronger this season,” Quist said.

Coach Sicilia was nervous about the women’s team going into the meet.

“We’re coming off an emotional week because we lost one of our top three runners,” Sicilia said. “She dropped out of school already this week and so the girls are a little emotional about that. We exceeded my expectations, however, so that was good.”

The men’s team placed in the top five for the 8K race, beating out teams including Lawrence Tech, Alma College and Davenport University.

GRCC runners round the corner. Avery Jennings
Chris Santana (left) and Kirk Dickson (right) lead the way for the Raiders in the men’s meet.

“The guys team just blew me away with their effort,” said Sicilia. “We had Kirk and Chris right up front leading the charge and they were together almost 75 percent of the race, running with each other, so that was really encouraging to see. Then we had Brett Slayton right there too along with Bruce behind him, and the rest of the guys all finishing with good times for the first meet.”

Brett Slayton finished in the top three for GRCC, but was a little unhappy with his time.

Brett SlaytonAvery Jennings
Brett Slayton

“I didn’t do too great,” Slayton said. “I finished with a time of 28:07. I mean it wasn’t great so hopefully I can work and get my times under 27 minutes, eventually.”

The men’s team and women’s team expectations going forward will be to “continue to train hard, eat healthy” and not get down on themselves if they finished the race with a time they didn’t necessarily want.

GRCC runner rounds the corner. Avery Jennings
Sophomore runner Brett Slayton rounds the corner as he heads into the second half of the 8K race.

Both teams will be focused on running their best this upcoming October and November.

“I’ve told them from day one that we want them to be their best (in) October and November for our regional meet and our nationals. We’ve never been to Nationals before, so we’re really looking forward to it.” Sicilia said.

The next meet for the Raiders will be the Michigan State University Spartan Invitational at 11:45 a.m. located on the Forest Akers East Golf Course, East Lansing, MI on Friday Sept. 16

The next home meet for the Raiders will be the GRCC Raider Invitational at 3:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, at Riverside Park, 2001 Monroe Ave.

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