The Grand Rapids Community College Raiders cross country team took third place out of 11 teams in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XII championship on Sat., Oct. 27 at Grand Woods Park in Lansing.
The women ran first in this race and freshman runner Hannah Jefferis led the way for the Raiders finishing ninth overall with a time of 20:09.2 in the 5K competition.
“Hannah ran her best race of the year, leading the charge as usual,” Raiders’ head coach Matt Sicilia said after the race. “She was all-conference and all-region… she competed really well today.”
In the last two weeks leading up to the race, Edith Jesang and Supriya Poelman had been battling injuries. Sicilia said that their focus before the race has just been to get healthy.
“The goal was just to get them through today and have them run strong and finish the race,” Sicilia said. “It was (Jesang’s) best race of the year. Briana Watson who’s our No. 4 ran like a three-and-a-half-minute personal best. That just doesn’t happen. It shows that she hasn’t been running in a few years, and she’s finally (getting it) a little bit. She was thrilled and looked really, really good.”
Because the women only have four runners on the team, they can’t qualify in the over all women’s team category, but Sicilia was pleased with all four of them and how they competed in the race.
In the men’s 8K, the team had a strong showing with personal records set by Dallas Mora, Matthew Spees, Sam Borisch and Joel Wilson who Sicilia was really proud of for crushing his personal record by more than a minute.
The GRCC school record that was just set last month by Trystan Thayer was broken again in this race. This time around, Borisch was the one to set the new record with a time of 25:54.9, just barely breaking the old record by less than two seconds. Thayer was happy for his friend and teammate to have broken his record and thinks it’s good to have that competitive nature on the team.
“I think it’s great, that’s what I want us to do,” Thayer said. “We need to keep getting faster and faster and we’ve got one more chance at it, so it should be fun.”
Borisch finished third overall with Thayer finishing right behind him in fourth place with a time of 26:14.4.
Lansing Community College and Muskegon Community College were the only teams to top the Raiders in this race finishing first and second respectively. The last chance Thayer made reference to will come when the Raiders travel to Garden City, Kansas to compete in the NJCAA Division I Championship on Sat., Nov. 10. Thayer knows what this trip means for his team but wants to make sure they enjoy it.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Thayer said. “This year we’re flying but last year we drove. The whole trip was a lot of fun despite it being really cold and terrible (weather). We really grew as a team so hopefully we’re going to run our best race in Garden City.”
With only a few weeks to prepare for the national championship, Borisch highlighted what the team needs to do to prepare for the competition and to make sure they have their best showing of the year.
“We’ve got one more key workout to do this upcoming Friday,” Borisch said. “Otherwise, we’re kind of tapering the miles, keeping the legs fresh. If anything, the outcome of our training will be a little bit of that cardiovascular stuff we’ve trained before… so it should even out.”
Sicilia is excited for his team’s opportunity to compete in nationals. He wants them to be ready and said they will be fine tuning some things through a few minor workouts.
“We’re looking forward to nationals,” Sicilia said. “The goal for the team is to finish in the top 25 for the third year in a row. I feel very confident about Trystan and Sam both being in the top 40.”
Some of the awards earned this year from Raiders’ runners included Mora earning an all-region nod, while Thayer and Borisch earned all-region as well as all-conference awards. Jefferis from the women’s team also received all-region and all-conference for her efforts this year.
The national championship will be run at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course in Garden City on Nov. 10, but the times of the races have not yet been determined.