By Sean Chase
While COVID-19 continues to force college sports teams to adjust their day-to-day operations, the Grand Rapids Community College Cross Country team has continued to roll with the punches. On Sept. 26, the Raiders traveled to the Jackson Jets Invitational, placing first overall in both the men’s and women’s races, for the second time this season.
Sophomore Kiah Becker won the women’s overall 5k on Saturday with a time of 21:33. The men’s overall 8k was won by freshman Joshua Kipkoech crossing the line with a time of 27:39.
Recent COVID-19 safety protocols implemented by GRCC forced the cross country teams to reduce the number of athletes allowed to travel for meets. GRCC can now only bring seven runners per team, while the ban on spectators currently remains in place.Even in less than ideal conditions the teams took the changes in stride.
“They responded pretty well, I know how hard it was, but they handled it knowing there was nothing they could do to control it, which is great,” said Sharon Becker, assistant coach.
The women’s team finished the meet with 52 points, 28 points ahead of the second-place finisher. The men’s team maintained their domination of the competition this season, finishing the meet with 38 points, 61 points ahead of the runners-up.
Also competing for the GRCC men’s team was Jack Kehoe, fourth overall, with a time of 30:03, Wilson Ishimwe at 30:47, Gabe Sanchez at 31:05, Lance Jourdan at 31:12, Noah Peterson at 31:40, and Devin Simon at 31:58.
The women’s runners were Audrey Meyering, second overall, with a time of 22:02, Carolanne Merlington at 23:09, Elizabeth Meyering at 23:35, Allison Hoop at 23:37, Kathryn De Leeuw at 24:58, and Paige Bodine at 25:01.
The drastic changes faced by the GRCC Cross Country teams haven’t slowed them down. The GRCC men’s team is currently ranked 10th in the NJCAA DII Coaches Poll, with the GRCC women’s team ranking fifth.
“We are feeling very confident, we have raced all these teams twice, and have won quite substantially especially on the men’s side,” said Matt Sicilia, GRCC’s Head Cross Country Coach.
The teams are preparing to head to Grayling, Friday, Oct. 2 for the Kirtland Invitational.