The Grand Rapids Community College Cross Country team went head to head with other four-year universities in their first meet of the season at the Knights Invitational at the Gainey Sports Complex.
The invitational enlisted numerous of four-year programs such as Indiana Tech University, Ohio Northern University, Davenport University, Aquinas College etc. GRCC and Oakland Community College were the only two community colleges in the invitational.
But the wide range of competition didn’t stop the Raider runners from posting good times and placing amongst the best teams at the meet.
The women ran their scheduled 5k race and every runner beat their own personal records. Teamwork and motivating each other during the race, was what ultimately propelled the women to beat their PR’s.
“Their team running approach was great,” Head Coach Matt Sicilia said. “They did a good job of pushing each other during the race when it seemed like their bodies (were) starting to hurt.”
Jessica Sluiter was the first runner to finish came in 88th place with a time of (20:22). Stephanie Thomas came in 98th place with a time of (20:28). Today’s 5k race was Thomas’s first 5k ever. “Stephanie has a great story,” Sicilia said. “We noticed her when we would see her just working out and we eventually convinced her to run for the team.”
Cierra Ensign came in 142nd place with a time of (21:16). The only returning runner for the women, Maya McAdory, finished with a time of (28:57).
Grand Valley State University won the meet for the women.
True freshman’s Jessica Sluiter and Cierra Ensign both beat their personal records from high school by over a minute. Stephanie Thomas and Maya McAdory also broke their own personal record times. “Maya, being our only returner, ran faster today than she did all season last year,” Sicilia said.
After witnessing all of his female runners beat their personal times in the team’s first meet, Coach Sicilia walked away pleased.
“All the girls exceeded my expectations,” Sicilia said.
The men also had an impressive opening day finishing 10th overall out of 22 schools.
One of the top finishers in the 8k race was Chris Santana who finished in 59th place with a time of (26:51). Sam Borisch finished in 64th place with a time of (26:58). Trystan Thayer came in 68th place with a time of (27:05). Edwin Wainaina finished in 76th place with a time of (27:14). Bruce Buurstra ran along with his teammates, finishing in 93rd place with a time of (27:31).
Calvin College won the meet for the men.
It was a day full of high-fives and cheers to start the season, but despite the record breaking day for many of his runners, Matt Sicilia doesn’t want to become complacent.
“I was thrilled with how we did today,” Sicilia said. “We focus on what we can control, which is our own effort,” Sicilia said. “It’s all about effort in this time of year, we want to put ourselves in a good position come nationals. They did phenomenally well today, but it’s just the first meet.”
The time for the Raiders’ next meet is still to be announced, but it will be on Sept. 16 at the Michigan State University Invitational in East Lansing at the Forest Akers Golf Course.