Grand Rapids, Mich. - The Bethel men's and women's cross country teams got off to a solid start in their season openers at the Knight Invitational hosted by Calvin, placing 14th and 16th, respectively.
The men, who placed 14th in a quality 22-team field, ran a tight race with only a 37-second gap between one thru three. Jose Crosby (SO/Chester, Md.) crossed the finish line first for the Pilots in 61st place overall with a personal-best 27:16. Justin Contreras (FR/Ligonier, Ind.) crossed at 27:47 while Evan Herr-Knipsel finished at 27:53, a personal record. Other scorers for the Pilots included Chad Williams (JR/South Bend, Ind.) with his second-best time ever at 28:03, and Collin Wiersema (SR/Byron Center, Mich.) 28:26.
"We saw many positives in the men's race with how they competed," stated Head Coach Ryan Sommers. "It was a good start for a young team. I witnessed some toughness in how we raced. Our pack running is improving, now we just. need more experience."
The women, who placed 16th in a 23-team field, ran with a gap time of only 40 seconds from one thru five. Jessica Duvall finished at the top spot for the Pilots, in 67th place overall, with a time of 20:13. Rebecca Maynard, who ran a personal-best 20:40, crossed second, while Mariah King finished at 20:48. Just five seconds later Breann Fawcett and Anna Nisen crossed at 20:53 just a split second apart to round out the top five for the Pilots. Alexis Goeglein and Faith Mooney finished with PRs at 23:07 and 23:10 respectively. Madison Troyer and Cara Frazee also hit personal best marks in the season opener.
"It was a good first step for the season," said Sommers. "We started similar to last year but with much improved gap times. Huge PRs for several with others running one of their top 2-3 collegiate times ever. I'm proud of the group running the gals utilized, but more impressed with the progress made in the intangibles of proper focus and running without fear."
The cross country teams return to action for the Crossroads League Preview in Carmel, Indiana next Friday set for a 3pm start.
The Bethel College Pilots compete in 18 intercollegiate sports for men and women. While accumulating 3 NAIA National Championships and 32 NCCAA National Championships by 10 different athletic teams, Bethel has also produced 143 NAIA All-American honors and 309 NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors over the past decade. Bethel College is an accredited Christian college offering associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in more than 70 areas of study.