Local Sports Journal

The 19th-ranked Muskegon Community College mens cross country team had its best race of the season Friday, Sept. 27 at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational hosted by Augustana College at Saukie Golf Course in Rock Island, Illinois.

The Jayhawk men won the community college championship trophy as the top community college team in the competition after scoring a perfect 15 points against the other community colleges in the field.

Despite warm temperature, The Jayhawks had six runners finish before the top runner from 23-ranked Southwestern Iowa Community College finished the course.

Leading the way for MCC was freshman Esrom Woldemichael (Northview High School), who finished 23rd overall out of 491 runners with a time of 25:56.

Rounding out the Top 7 were Jacob Baker (FR/Mona Shores HS), Mathias Waterstradt (SO/North Muskegon HS), Austin Elliott (FR/Spring Lake HS), Logan Irey (FR/Whitehall HS), Alex Drew (SO/Coopersville HS), and David VanBergen (SO/Fruitport HS).

“I told the guys to start out a little conservative due to the warm weather and it paid off with many of our guys passing people and moving up during the race,” said Jayhawk head coach Dan Fishel.  “Esrom had a terrific race!  At MSU he got excited and took off a little fast which led to him not running well.  At Rock Island, Esrom only went out in 5:07 for the first mile and he felt a lot better during the race and was able to maintain a better pace.  I told Esrom if he went out conservatively he could run around 25:50, and he did!”

Woldemichael wasn’t the only Jayhawk with a great race.

“Our pack was instrumental in our success on Friday,” said Fishel.  “Mathias, Austin, Logan, and Alex stayed pretty close for 3-4 miles of the race with Jake being just a bit ahead.  We have several guys that have similar fitness levels right now, so I wanted to emphasize team running the last two weeks.  Running near a teammate you train with during a race allows you to push yourself to work together and move up during the 8k.  If you run by yourself during a longer race it can be very easy to slow up.  Having a teammate there to motivate you helps with the mental aspect of racing and can demoralize some runners from other teams.  I’m so proud of the team!  The Jayhawk men not only won the community college competition, they placed 15th out of 36 full teams – many of them four-year colleges.  During and after the race, many people were impressed with our team and were asking where Muskegon was.”

The womens team from MCC also ran well at Brissman-Lundeen Invite, winning the community college championship trophy as the top community college team in the competition as well after scoring 33 points. MCC womens team defeated runner-up Carl Sandburg College by 13 points.

Freshman Andrea Lavigne (Mason County Central) again led the Jayhawks by taking 101st place out of a record field of 415 runners with a 6k time of 24:55.

Rounding out the top 7 were Summer Hussey (FR/Reeths Puffer HS), Samantha Eely (FR/Oakridge HS), Brielle Johnson (FR/North Muskegon HS), Claudia Melton (FR/Grand Haven HS), Erika Bayak (FR/Grand Haven HS), and Miranda Buckwald (FR/Grand Haven HS).

“The women ran well despite the conditions,” said Fishel.  “It was the first time we had run this course, so we didn’t know how much the heat would affect split times. The women ended up going out a little too fast, but they still hung on for the championship.  Claudia Melton was the only one with a 6k PR, but several of the Lady Jayhawks ran very solid races for the conditions.”