by Alan Babbitt
The 14th-ranked Hope College women's cross country team is running this weekend after a Great Lakes Regional championship and a spot in the NCAA Division III Championships.
The Flying Dutch are competing on Saturday at Blue River Memorial Park in Shelbyville, Indiana. The women's 6K race begins at 11 a.m.
Hope heads into the meet ranked No. 1 in the Great Lakes Region and as the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champions.
Head coach Mark Northuis describes the race course as pool-table flat.
"It's a lot like our course at West Ottawa Golf Course. There is nothing that really gets in the way besides the elements," Northuis said.
Photo by Lynne Powe
The Flying Dutch are seeking their second consecutive regional title and their seventh all-time. They have advanced to nationals eight consecutive seasons.
Northuis expects Hope to be challenged by a field that includes Calvin College, which is ranked No. 2 in the region.
Others in the Top 10 of regional rankings are: Otterbein College, Ohio (No. 3), Oberlin College, Ohio (No. 4), Case Western Reserve University, Ohio (No. 5), Allegheny University, Pennsylvania (No. 6), Baldwin Wallace University, Ohio (No. 7), University of Mount Union, Ohio (No. 8), John Carroll University, Ohio (No. 9), and Manchester University, Indiana (No. 10).
Hope clocked six of the fastest 12 times at the October 27 MIAA Championships in Kalamazoo. Four runners earned All-MIAA First Team honors: senior Emily Hamilton of Naperville, Illinois (Naperville HS), junior Chelsea Miskelley of Holland, Michigan (Black River), junior Kelly Peregrine of Traverse City, Michigan (Traverse City Central), and junior Anna Frazee of Watervliet, Michigan (Home School).
Northuis points to his runners staying together during the race as an important factor to success.
"We do very well in a tight pack," he said. "The key for us is to keep our pack to the front. The last couple of years we weren't in first place at 1,000 meters, but we closed really well."