Grace XC Runs Big Races at NCCAA Nationals

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Grace XC Runs Big Races at NCCAA Nationals

Cross Country

Joplin, MO – Grace Christian University’s cross country runners ran to some big performances at the NCCAA National Cross Country Championships in Joplin, MO this past weekend.  All told, four different runners finished in the top 20 nationally with three individuals having either season or lifetime new personal best times at the end.  Hosted by Ozark Christian College, the meet took place on the Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course at Missouri Southern State University.  After unseasonably mild temperatures in the days leading up to the meet, race day on Friday morning greeted the athletes with 30 degree temperatures and 15-20 mph winds.  

"This group of runners has responded well to every adverse weather condition we’ve experienced this season, so I felt pretty confident in our ability to still run well when it mattered," noted Grace head coach Gerry Verwey.  "All in all, we had a really good day.  I am very pleased with the way we competed and if we could have had a fifth runner qualify for Nationals, our teams would have competed easily for a top 4 podium spot.  Both races (the women’s 5k and the men’s 8k) were fun to watch because we were so feisty and competitive.  I hope we carrying that into the upcoming track season," add Verwey


Women’s Highlights

  • Freshman Kierra Flegel (Kent City, MI) finished in 12th place with a solid time of 21:15 in some tough weather conditions.  Flegel led the women’s team all season long and finished 4th place among freshmen in the race.

  • Freshman Maty Temrowski  (Fenton, MI) was the 6th freshman to cross the line, ending up in 18th place overall with a time of 21:55.  Working side-by-side with her teammate, senior Sarena Overbeek (Jenison, MI), who finished 19th in a season best time of 22:00, Temrowski and Overbeek pushed each other forward throughout the race and their competitiveness yielded impressive top 20 results.

  • This was the third time in her career that Sarena Overbeek placed in the top 20 at Nationals; however, it was the fastest overall time she has had in the meet.  In 2019, Overbeek placed 18th (22:22), in 2020 she was 16th (22:29), and this year she finished 19th (22:00). 

  • Senior Kendra Bonnema (Dieleman) finished in 42nd place with a season-best time of 24:22.  She was also awarded with the NCCAA’s Scholar-Athlete recognition prior to the meet. 

Men’s Highlights

  • Junior Kent Herring (Evart, MI) had the biggest Nationals appearance of his career on Friday.  Although this is the third straight year he has qualified for the race, and although he matched his career best finishing place (18th) this year, this was by far his fastest 8k Nationals race by finishing in a time of 29:36 (third fastest time of his career).  

  • Freshman Jonathon Williams (Charlotte, MI) also turned in a solid performance, placing 25th overall and finishing with a time of 30:13, only 7 seconds off of his personal record time. 

  • Freshman Collin Bishop (Rockford, MI), coming off of a badly sprained ankle from a JV basketball game the week prior to the meet, ran a lifetime personal best 8k time of 32:27 and finished 51st overall. 

  • Sophomore Ben Bird (Allendale, MI) finished in 57th place with a time of 33:00.

The cross country team will now transition into the indoor track season.  Grace’s sprinters and throwers have already been actively preparing for the upcoming season and are looking forward to finally joining with the distance runners.  The competitive indoor track schedule will kick off in early December with a meet at Saginaw Valley State University with the NCCAA Indoor Track National Championships rounding out the season in February.

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