By Zach Watkins – Sports Editor
GRAND RAPIDS- The Grand Rapids Community College women’s cross country team finished 24th at the Calvin Knight Invitational on Sept. 13.
The women’s squad totaled 706 points, eight in front of 25th place Grace Bible College.
“I was very excited about the women’s race,” GRCC coach Matt Sicilia said. “This is their third race of the season, all at 5K, and they all competed really well. They ran with a lot of heart and a few of them showed some teamwork out there running together well. I couldn’t be happier with the girls.
The men’s team ran an 8K, finishing 21st with 641 points, 77 behind University of Michigan-Dearborn’s 564.
“This was the men’s teams first five-mile race of the season, their first two were four mile,” Sicilia said. “The guys were a little bit cautious, maybe a touch slower than what they could have been. They ended up all moving up well in the race.
“One of our mottos is that each race is another step to get where we need to be by the end of the season.”
The women’s 5K race was won by Calvin who tallied 27 points and the men’s 8K race was also won by Calvin with 55 points.
This is the inaugural season for Matt Sicilia’s men’s and women’s teams, after the sport had previously been dropped. GRCC decided to cut tennis last fall, in favor of cross country.
“You have to throw them into the fire at some point,” Sicilia said regarding his teams competing against four-year schools. “The race I scheduled last week for the guys was a four-mile race and we were competing against some community colleges there, so I knew we’d have some people to run with.
“Our girls actually beat a team for the first time today. They were really happy and all cheering about that. It’s just baby steps. Taking all the success and learning from the experience, along with working together to improve throughout the season.”
Jody Sellers, who led GRCC’s women, finished 168 overall at 21:29, while Alicia Geene finished at 287 with a time of 27:28.1.
“I was really impressed with Jody,” Sicilia said. “She’s our top girl.
“Alicia is one of our back runners, but she had over a two-minute improvement on her personal best time, which is huge.”
Brett Slayton led GRCC men, finishing the 8K 196th with a time of 29:14.5. Rechy Rodriguez finished 225th at 30:10.1.
“The guys ran pretty good,” Sicilia said. “It’s hard mentally for the guys to run a four-mile the week before, and be ready for the five-mile being in the same shape.
“We had a couple pretty hard workouts this week, so the guy’s legs are a little tired.”
The GRCC team’s next race is in Lansing on Oct. 3.
“We have our hardest workout of the year coming up,” Sicilia said. “It’s a mixture of fast stuff on the track and race-pace stuff on the roads. There is very little recovery. It’s lots of quantity, mixing speeds and race-pace stuff together.
“We call it the Michigan workout. It’s something I did when I was here at Calvin and something my coach did when he was at the University of Michigan.”