Dec. 4, 2010

By David Pickle

Grand Valley State gained an early advantage and never let up Saturday on its way to winning the Division II Womens Cross Country Championships title over the snow-covered course at E.P. Tom” Sawyer State Park.

The Lakers tallied 66 points to win comfortably and dethrone perennial champion Adams State, which had won the previous seven championships. Western State finished second with points.

Grand Valley State coach Jerry Baltes said his team knew the importance of getting off to a fast start in the slick, muddy and cold conditions.

As much as the men chewed up the course (in their championship an hour before), we thought it was imperative to establish position out front because I thought it was going to be really, really hard to maneuver through a crowd as muddy and sloppy and slippery as it got,” Baltes said.

Not only did the Lakers get to the front early, they stayed there.

All seven of ladies ran well,” Baltes said. We had seven in the top 35, and seven in the top 25 team scoring, so thats just an outstanding effort.”

Senior Katherine McCarthy led the Lakers, finishing the 6-kilometer course in 21:10.6 for a fourth-place team team (and individual) finish. She was followed by Megan Maceratini (seventh), Rebecca Winchester (16th), Kylen Cieslak (19th) and Julie Nowak (20th).

Baltes praised Adams State, which has won either NCAA or NAIA championships for 18 of the last 22 seasons.
Damon Martin does an outstanding job out there, so, yeah, its a huge relief and triumph to get over that hump,” Baltes said.

Martin, the Adams State coach, praised the effort of his team, along with the new champion.

Im really proud of this years group,” he said. They battled their butts off. Theyre a little banged up, but thats to take nothing away from Grand Valley. They really went out and ran well and just took the race. They really looked good from start to finish.”

The individual title went to Shippenburgs Neely Spence, who deflected attention to her teams accomplishment.

The thing Im most excited about is that we got in the top four and got the trophy,” she said. Im really, really excited to be part of that.”

Spence covered the course in 20:41.2, about 15 seconds in front of No. 2 Sarah Porter of Western Washington. Laura Kleppin from Western State was third.

Time didnt really matter today in the snow and conditions,” Spence said, so I wanted to stay in control as much as possible. At about 4K is where I took control of the race and at that point I decided I was just going to sort of hammer to the finish.”