Muskegon, MI – The Grace Cross Country teams had already had an amazing season coming into Saturday’s meet at Muskegon Community College; however, every Tiger knew they still had not yet raced to their full capability. Their true potential came busting through Saturday at University Park Golf Course where nearly every Grace runner busted out huge races that resulted in either a new lifetime personal best time or a season-best result.
Grace head coach Gerry Verwey sensed it was going to be a special day. "We’ve had some breakthroughs at practices since our last meet that really boosted the confidence of our runners," said Coach Verwey after Saturday’s races. "I really credit the athletes themselves and Coach Bird for not being satisfied with the success we already had. I honestly believe we have the potential to turn some heads at Nationals in a few weeks. I am really excited to see what we do there," added Verwey.
Freshman Kierra Flegel (Kent City, MI) had a monstrous race, holding strong in the top 30 all race, and ended up running the 3rd fastest cross country 5k time in school history (20:10.2). As of last week’s NCCAA national rankings, that would give Flegel the fastest women’s 5k time in the country.
Freshman Maty Temrowski (Fenton, MI) ran a new season personal best and came within 6 seconds of her lifetime best 5k time, finishing in 21:34, which would rank her 10th nationally. Her time also moves her up to 7th all-time in school history.
Senior Sarena Overbeek (Jenison, MI), in her final regular season race, busted out a new season-best time by almost 2 minutes, finishing in 22:11. Coming off of an ankle issue earlier this season, combined with noticeably improved fitness in her training, Overbeek is looking to go out with her biggest race yet at Nationals in a few weeks.
Senior Kendra Bonnema Dieleman (Caledonia, MI), although going into the race treating it more as a hard workout, still ran within 16 seconds of her current season-best time (24:39), and continues to have a storybook season after a major injury last year.
Junior Kent Herring (Evart, MI) had the race he’s been looking for all year, turning in an impressive new lifetime personal best 8k time of 29:07. This solidifies Herring in the #3 all-time spot in school history and ranks him 10th nationally, as of last week’s NCCAA standings.
Freshman Jonathon Williams (Charlotte, MI) also finished with a lifetime personal best time of 30:06. After just cracking the top 10 two weeks ago, Saturday’s performance moves Williams up to the 6th all-time fastest 8k time in school history. His time ranks him 13th nationally in the current standings.
- Not to be outdone, sophomore Ben Bird (Allendale, MI) also found a new lifetime personal record. Bird finished in a time of 31:59, which was more than a minute better than his previous mark. Coach Verwey credited assistant coach Bill Bird with some great workouts to help his son finally break through some mental walls.
The Tigers now look to prepare for their final meet of the regular season on Oct. 29th @ Northwoods University before heading to the NCCAA XC Nationals on Nov. 11th.