ADRIAN, Mich. - The Calvin men's cross country team wrapped up its 31st consecutive MIAA title on Saturday, posting a team score of 22 points at the MIAA Championships hosted by Adrian College at the Raisin Valley Golf Club.
Calvin took seven of the top nine spots to cruise to the win on Saturday with senior Mark DeJong (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) leading the way with a first place time of 24:15 on the 8K course.
Saturday's competition featured decidedly different weather conditions from the first MIAA competition of the year when the MIAA Jamboree was held on September 23 at Hope College in temperatures hovering near 90 degrees. Saturday's race took place in cool brisk conditions with temps in the low 40's.
Like the MIAA Jamboree in September however, the trio of DeJong, Albion sophomore Andrew Bill and Calvin senior Andrew Philipose (Mount Prospect, Il./John Hersey HS) ran to the front of the pack.
DeJong gained separation from Bill with just over a mile to go and finished six seconds ahead of Bill. Philipose was eight seconds behind Bill in a third place time of 24:29.
Lewis Duke of Trine was fourth but from there on it was a sea of Maroon and Gold as the Knights took the next five spots including seven of the next nine.
Sophomore Tyler Johnson (Springfield, Il./Pleasant Plains HS) was fifth in 24:41 and senior Andrew Rylaarsdam (Grandville, Mich./Calvin Christian HS) sixth in 24:51.
Freshman Justin Varineau (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) placed seventh (24:53), junior Nathanael Dick (Grand Rapids, Mich./Home Schooled) eighth (24:54), sophomore Caleb Ferguson (Naperville, Il./Neuqua Valley HS) ninth (24:56), sophomore Addison Smith (Seoul, South Korea/Seoul International School) 12th (25:09), freshman Jonathan Ellis (Baltimore, Md./Towson HS) 13th (25:15) and junior Jamison Koeman (Whitinsville, Mass./Whitinsville Christian HS) 15th (25:20).
Calvin's performance featured a tight pack of runners as just 41 seconds separated Calvin's first and seventh finisher.
DeJong was named the MIAA's Most Valuable Runner and landed a spot on the All-MIAA first team for the second straight year. Philipose, Johnson, Rylaarsdam, Varineau and Dick also earned spots on the All-MIAA first team. Philipose and Dick repeated as All-MIAA first team honorees.
Ferguson, Koeman, Smith and Ellis landed spots on the All-MIAA second team.
"I thought Mark DeJong ran the finest race of his career," said Calvin head cross country coach Brian Diemer. "We told him that he needed to stay with (Andrew) Bill as long as possible and if he did, he would have a chance to make a run for the win. Mark showed great moxie in following the game plan and then showing heart and determination to run for the win. We are all very proud of him. He's been a great leader this year and he led by example today."
Diemer was also pleased with the pack running displayed by the Knights. "We took 10 out of the top 15 spots and we did that by working together," said Diemer. "It's very pleasing for a coach to see. I thought Andrew Rylaarsdam played another key role in our pack today. He ran strong and led our second group that came in behind DeJong and Philipose. We had a very strong performance today. We have some things still to fine tune but we are in a good place. We never take winning a conference championship lightly. It's a special honor to attain and I am proud of our guys for running the way they did today."
Calvin will now prepare for the upcoming NCAA III Great Lakes Regional competition scheduled to take place on November 11 at Ohio Wesleyan University.