2019 D2 XC Top 10 Teams (Women): #2 Grand Valley State + #1 Adams State

Updated: Jan 13

Written by Grace McLaughlin

GVSU had a stellar cross country season last year, competing against some of the top D1 teams and finishing with a national title - their sixth in nine years. Of course, Grand Valley State's title run was more than just one standout race at Nationals. Their entire season was generally very impressive.

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Their top runners opened up their season with a 2nd place finish at the Spartan Invite, finishing only behind BIG 10 juggernaught Michigan State. Sara Berger led the way in 5th place, followed by Gina Patterson in 6th, Allie Ludge in 12th, Madison Goen in 14th, and Hanna Groeber in 17th. With a 34 second spread, the Lakers showed their depth and ability to work together in races while have clear-cut low-sticks.

The team added another runner-up performance later in the season at the Loyola Lakefront Invitational behind Princeton. Once again, Sarah Berger led the way with a 1st place finish. Not far behind was Allie Ludge in 2nd, followed by Gina Patterson in 18th, Madison Goen in 26th, and Hanna Groeber in 32nd. Their spread opened to 56 seconds, but this race showed that they were a force to be reckoned with against respectable Division One teams.

Their first "off" day of the season was at the Bradley Pink Classic...that is if you can call placing 4th behind some of the top D1 Midwest teams an “off day.” The Lakers ended the day by finishing behind programs such as Iowa State, South Dakota, and the University of Illinois. Leading the way this time was Allie Ludge who finished 7th, while being followed by their consistent low-stick runners of Sarah Berger (10th), Gina Patterson (17th), Madison Goen (33rd). Hanna Groeber fell back to 99th, which was a huge blow to their team score, but the low-stick scorers still kept things competitive. Despite some slightly underwhelming performances, the team still kept their spread to only 58 seconds.

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At the GLIAC Championship, the Lakers almost walked away with a perfect score. Sarah Berger won, followed by Gina Patterson (2nd), Hanna Groeber (3rd) , Allie Ludge (4th), and Madison Goen (7th) for 17 points. The even more impressive thing about this race is that they had 12 runners in the top 20. Their spread dropped back down to 36 seconds, showing just how devastating their depth could be against some respectable D2 programs.

After cruising through the Midwest Regional Championships by scoring only 26 points, it was time for the Lakers to redirect their focus to the national meet.

The team finished off their season by winning the Big Dance with only 41 points. Individually, had five All-Americans: Sarah Berger (1st), Allie Ludge (5th), Hanna Groeber (6th), Gina Patterson (8th), and Madison Goen (21st). Their #6 and #7 runners were Stacey Metzger (108th) and Jessica Gockley (195th), who seemed to have a rough day in Pennsylvania. Luckily, all the team needed was a lethal 1-2-3-4-5...and they had just that.

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Going into the 2019 season they lose their 1-2 punch of Sarah Berger and Gina Patterson. Losing a national champ and an All-American is tough, but they still return five of their top seven and have numerous women who could be in the mix as well.

They have a new dynamic duo of Allie Ludge and Hanna Groeber, who scored in every meet for the Lakers last year. Ludge placed 5th last year at NCAA's and had impressive indoor and outdoor track seasons - 3rd in the mile, anchoring the DMR for a 1st place finish, and then finishing 6th in the 1500. Ludge has unique speed which she has proven that she can translate to the cross country course.

Hanna Groeber was 6th last year at the NCAA Championships and was a 4x All-American between indoor and outdoor track (8th in the 5k, 12th in the 3k, 6th in the 5k, and 5th in the 3k steeplechase). She has always been strong and reliable, but these performances show growth that should set her up for an amazing season.

Madison Goen, placed 26th at NCAA's last year before running in a number of championship races where she barely missed First-Team All-American honors. She is consistently successful and knows how to navigate the top-tier talents across Division Two rather well.

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Stacey Metzger placed 108th at NCAA's last year and competed in almost every race for the team last fall. On the track she was 15th in the 3000 meters and 18th in the 5000 meters during indoors. Unfortunately, we only got to see her race once during outdoors which gave us a time of 17:12 for 5000 meters. Don't let her national meet finish fool you, she is better than what that result says.

Jessica Gockley was 195th at NCAA's last year despite placing 15th at the Midwest Regional Championships. She got redemption during track season, finishing 4th in the 10,000 meters during outdoors. That outdoor All-American performances shows us that she is more of an endurance runner, which could help balance out her more speed-driven teammates.

Malea Teerman should be a key returner as well. She placed 10th last year at GLIAC's, but did not run at regionals or nationals. She placed 16th in the 5k indoors, running 17:09, but did not run a single race during outdoors. Assuming she is healthy, she should be in the top seven.

GVSU has unmatched depth and a culture of winning. They’re consistent and can run well in tough weather, as seen last year. They return experienced runners and will have several talented rookies. Keeping their pack close and being consistent will be vital for them. They will be hard to beat at NCAA's in December.

Who knows? Maybe they can end up defending their national title...

Written by John Cusick

The #1 ranked team in our XC Top 50 for the 2019 preseason is the Adams State Grizzlies. And truthfully, we think it’s a pretty safe bet as they return their entire top seven from 2018. They were one of three teams in 2018 to have all five of their scorers become an individual All-American and all five of those women will be back as a part of their scoring five once again.

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Eilish Flanagan was the top runner for the Grizzlies last year. She ended the season with a 2nd place individual finish after a hard-fought race with Grand Valley’s Sarah Berger.

If you could ask anyone what they hoped their individual season could look like, many would likely say that they would want to replicate Flanagan's 2018 season. The Adams veteran began with a 4th place finish at the annual Joe I. Vigil XC Meet before going to the Stanford Invitational where she also finished 4th overall.

Those were her only two meets before the postseason.

At the RMAC Championships, she finished runner-up and continued on at the South Central Regional Championships where she placed 3rd. Every race was a top five finish for her, and she comes into 2019 as one of the favorites to win the individual title.

Eilish’s sister Roisin served as the team's #2 runner for most of the season before a somewhat off-day at Nationals. Before her 48th place finish at NCAA's, Roisin had placed 6th (Joe Vigil), 17th (Stanford), and then earned two 4th place finishes at her conference and regional meets (RMAC and South Central). It was expected that Roisin would be the team's #2 runner once again at Nationals and that Adams would be walking away with yet another title. That obviously wasn’t the case, but we should all expect Roisin to regain her 2018 form and for it to translate to the 2019 season.

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Then we have Stephanie Cotter, the current sophomore who took the country by storm as just a freshman last year. Highlighted by her indoor mile and outdoor 1500 NCAA titles, Cotter quietly pieced together a very strong cross country season in 2018. She only ran in four meets all season, but opened up at Stanford with a 10th place finish. That was followed up with an 11th place at RMAC's, a 5th place finish at the South Central Regional Championships and finally, an 11th place finish at the NCAA meet. After a year in the program at Adams State, there should be no question that Cotter will improve into becoming a top 10 finisher.

Haleigh Hunter-Galvan will be the third senior on this team in 2019. She ran in five meets during 2018 which resulted in an 8th place at the Joe I. Vigil XC Meet, a 38th place finish at Stanford, a 9th place finish at RMAC's, and an 11th place finish at the regional meet. She finally capped it all off with a 24th place finish at NCAA's.

All of that is nice, but what might be the most impressive streak of performances was what she did on the track. Hunter-Galvan dropped three minutes off of her personal best for 5000 meters as she ran 16:30 and then, in her third steeplechase race ever, she ran 10:33 and took home All-American honors with a 4th place finish. She’ll be a strong contributor for this Grizzlies team without question in 2019 and she should crack the top 20 come Nationals.

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Pieper Meuwissen and Tiffany Christen were the other two All-Americans from this team last year. They will still have a big impact on this team, but along with Kaylee Bogina, they’ll be fighting for a scoring spot on this team once again. Bogina was an All-American in the 10k this past spring after her 5th place finish, moving her in front of both Meuwissen and Christensen for the upcoming season.

That being said, this is cross country and from what we can tell, these three women are generally pretty close in their overall level of fitness. It wouldn't at all be surprising to see any of these three women having a scoring role for the Adams State Grizzlies this fall.

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The top five for Adams State is far better than anyone else’s heading into the 2019 season. They hold four legitimate low-sticks and a group of established veterans who make up most of their depth. it’s going to take a monstrous effort from another team to take them down in 2019. Expect another title to be coming home to Alamosa on November 30th.