by James Rogers
The Hope College Flying Dutchmen put eight runners across the finish line on Friday at the Lansing Community College Invitational held at Grand Woods Park.
Freshman Anders Bogard of Mattawan, Michigan (Kalamazoo Christian) led the Flying Dutchmen with a time of 27 minutes, 29.8 seconds for the 8,000-meter race. Hope finished ninth out of 21 scoring teams.
Assistant coach Phil Jones was at the helm for this meet, as head coach Mark Northuis and associate head coach Brian VanZanten hit the road Friday morning to Louisville to lead the runners who are representing Hope on Saturday at the NCAA Division III pre-nationals meet at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park.
With the group in Lansing on an overcast Friday, the focus was on development and finding strength in the second half of the race. It was the debut 8K for several of the Dutchmen.
Jones reported solid course conditions, and he said there was a positive team vibe post-race—even if the finish times did not particularly meet expectations.
"We'll utilize this race going forward," Jones said. "Not too satisfied with times, but there were smiles (after the race)."
Pacing and race strategy will improve with more reps. Jones labeled Friday's meet as a confidence-building race.
"We need to be more in control the first mile, then build," Jones said. "There was some building throughout the race today, some strong finishes."
Bogard was the lone Hope runner under 28 minutes, and it was an encouraging result considering his injury-filled first month of the season. Jones marked it as a "pleasant surprise" for Bogard.
"Get a few more miles in Anders' legs, he'll be able to finish stronger," Jones said.
Following Bogard in second place for Hope and 90th overall was freshman Aidan Jones of West Olive, Michigan (Black River), who worked on running conservatively from the start and produced a 28:49.7 personal best in his young collegiate career.
Sophomore Cameron Carpenter of Glencoe, Missouri (Lafayette) narrowly missed a sub-29 performance, as he finished third on the team in 29:00.6. Freshman Joe Cornell of Grosse Pointe, Michigan (Grosse Pointe South) and senior Andrew Schuring of Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Linn Mar) rounded out the point-scoring performances for Hope with times of 29:19.5 and 29:25.9, respectively.
Earlier in the week, Northuis said he wanted the Lansing group to work the middle of the race to help alleviate the mental letdowns that seem to dominate during that portion. The Grand Woods Park course boasts a congested first mile followed by some quiet, sparsely spectated areas and wooded trails.
"Lansing can catapult you and help you learn how to race," Northuis said.
The Flying Dutchmen get right back to racing next week, as they head to the Muskegon Community College Jayhawk Invitational on Friday, Oct. 11.