The Grand Rapids Community College cross country teams are preparing for their 2022 season with the goal of both attending the National tournament for the third year in a row. This year the women’s team has three returning runners and the men’s team has six returning runners.
Last season the men’s and women’s teams each placed seventh at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II National Championship.
This 2022 season, the women’s team has seven runners: Audrey Meyering, Kaylee Scott, Rose Meyer, Chloe Jones, Samantha Sixberry, Mariana Zaragoza, and Zoe Zawacki.
Scott placed 14th overall at the National tournament last November and earned All-American honors in her freshman season.
Now, returning for her second season with GRCC, Scott is looking forward to team bonding and breaking the school record in the women’s 5k. Former Raider Stephanie Thomas holds the current GRCC women’s cross country record with a time of 19:20 in the 5k in the 2017 National tournament.
“I’m nine seconds away,” Scott said. “I’m trying to break 18 (minutes), but we’ll start with the school record.”
When a race gets difficult, Scott motivates herself.
“Usually I say ‘if she can do it, l can do it.’ Whoever I’m running next to, if she can do it, I can do it. Just to help keep me going,” Scott said. “Because I’ve run so many races, I know I’m capable.”
Meyering will return for her third season as a Raider, coming off of a 15th place overall finish at Nationals and also earning All-American honors. She’s hoping to break her personal record from last year and compete at her third National tournament.
“We’ve gone two times in a row already, so let’s make it three,” Meyering said. “Everyone’s really dedicated and passionate here.”
Second year head coach Sharon Becker is optimistic about the upcoming season. Becker’s been on the coaching staff of the GRCC women’s cross country team since August 2016, so stepping into the role of head coach in 2021 felt natural.
When asked about her season goals, Becker said she’s planning on her team being in the top three teams at the regional tournament and she emphasized health.
“With six people everyone’s got to stay healthy. If someone has an ache or pain, (we) start cross-training,” she said. “We definitely want to go to Nationals. With this group, based on the times they ran in high school and last year, we should be able to go to Nationals and be a top 10 team.”
The men’s team has nine runners for this season: Coleman Clark, Lucas Schneider, Craig Fuller, Derek Hopkins, Daniel Kehoe, Mason Kohloff, Andrew Periard, Zachary Richards, and Alex Weber.
Clark finished 13th overall at the 2021 National tournament and received All-American honors. Heading into his sophomore year, Clark aims to improve his personal best as much as possible and is shooting for a time in the low 25 minutes in the 8k.
“We have a smaller team this year, I’m looking forward to seeing how some of the new guys grow as runners,” Clark said. To help push through hard races, Clark tells himself “That I’ve probably worked harder than the guy I’m running against, the guy next to me.”
Schneider is returning for his second season as a Raider with the goal of running in the low 27 to upper 26-minute range in the 8k.
“I’m pretty excited to see the new guys this year, especially since we lost some people and gained some people,” he said. “I’m curious to see how the season will go.” To motivate himself during races, Schneider tells himself “If I stop now, I’ll regret it.”
Former Calvin University men’s cross country assistant coach Robert Hyde will lead the men’s team in his first year at GRCC as head coach.
“To be honest I’m looking to see what they got. This is all new for me, so I’m excited to see what talent we have here,” Hyde said. “I’ve seen good times from people coming in. I’m excited to see what we can do in the short amount of time we have.”