Men's preview written by Quenten Lasseter
Women's preview written by Grace McLaughlin
History repeats itself and that’s just how it goes. The Grand Valley State Lakers have won the GLIAC title over the past 16 seasons, and have number 17 on their mind. Our TSR #2 ranked individual Tanner Chada has led the way for this team all season long. He earned a 3rd place finish at the MSU Spartan Invitational to open his season, a 2nd place finish at the Lewis Crossover meet, and a win (plus a PR of 24:27) at the Ohio State Buckeye Preview.
Simply put, this guy is on fire.
The Lakers have successfully progressed throughout the season, securing a pair of runner-up finishes at the Spartan Invitational and Buckeye Preview (losing only top D1 teams) before impressively winning the Lewis Crossover Classic over ranked teams such as Missouri Southern and Augustana.
This team’s depth is getting stronger and has the firepower in order to capture conference title number 17.
The one team that will look to challenge Grand Valley State will be the Saginaw Valley Cardinals.
The Cardinals were the runners-up last season, losing by 36 points. Saginaw Valley is currently not ranked in our TSR Top 10, but they are a team that is looking in from the outside. This season, they claimed the Northwood Invitational team title, along with a strong 10th place performance at a loaded Lewis Crossover meet.
Returning All-American CarLee Stimpfel has had a great season thus far, running a PR 25:02 at the Spartan Invitational. Stimpfel will look to lead his Cardinals to an upset victory of the Lakers this weekend.
A team that has been on our radar all year long has been the Michigan Tech Huskies. They've been on our "Just Missed" portion of our rankings for a number of weeks now, but that shouldn't impact just how strong they are.
They are led by their two low-sticks in Matthew Pahl and Braden Reichl. Those two finished 4th and 5th at the Roy Griak Invitational and led the Huskies to a 2nd finish just after Augustana (S.D.). They have some of the best depth on the country if you look at their Griak placings as they had all seven of their runners finish inside the top 40.
A huge key to their success has been Clayton Sayen who has had a breakout year. If he continues to run well, we should see the Huskies on the podium this weekend.
1. Grand Valley State Lakers
2. Saginaw Valley Cardinals
3. Michigan Tech Huskies
1. Tanner Chada (Grand Valley State)
2. CarLee Stimpfel (Saginaw Valley)
3. Braden Reichl (Michigan Tech)
4. Ben Zaremba (Grand Valley State)
5. David Mitter (Lake Superior State)
6. Mathew Pahl (Michigan Tech)
7. Jesse Becker (Grand Valley State)
8. Dennis Mbuta (Grand Valley State)
9. Brendon Parr (Grand Valley State)
10. Dayton Brown (Saginaw Valley State)
On the women’s side, Grand Valley State (TSR #1) should have another easy win at their conference meet. This is not to say that there won’t be respectable competition or notable performances at the GLIAC Championships, but the Lakers are simply on another level from the rest of their opponents.
It is pretty safe to say that Grand Valley will take home the win, and the next five teams in the standings should be a close competition between Saginaw Valley, Michigan Tech, Wayne State University, Ferris State, and Northern Michigan. All of these teams have already competed against each other at the Lewis Conference Crossover.
In that race, Grand Valley dominated, scoring only 32 points. Saginaw Valley came in 4th with impressive performances from their consistent low-sticks. Morgan Fuerst was 14th, Jenna Keiser was 18th, Sydney Kreger was 21st, and Katelyn Spooner was 34th. It was a fantastic showing for the Cardinals, but their #5 runner (Maggie Pawelczyk) came finished 158th which was detrimental to their score. Saginaw Valley needs to close the gap between it's top four and final scorer to have a good showing at GLIAC.
Earlier in the season, Saginaw Valley won the Northwood Invitational to beat out several conference rivals before going on to place 6th at the MSU Spartan Invite. In that same race, conference rivals Northern Michigan finished 5th, Michigan Tech placed 9th, and Grand Valley State won.
We should also note that Wayne State beat Saginaw Valley at the Warrior Challenge, but the Cardinals were missing a few of their top runners.
The Huskies of Michigan Tech weren't too far behind the Cardinals at the Lewis Crossover meet. Front-runner Emily Byrd led the way in 6th place and was followed by Gabrielle Feber in 30th, Sam Kurkowski in 50th, Carly Huggins in 73th, and Amanda Kautzer in 79th. It should be a close race between Saginaw Valley and Michigan Tech for the runner-up spot this weekend. After all, only five points separated them in their last matchup. Earlier in the season, the Huskies placed 5th at Griak to beat Northern Michigan (7th).
Wayne State came in 7th at that same meet, led by low-sticks Jacqueline Feist (23rd) and Ashley Defrain (25th). Their 3-4-5-6 runners were further back with Cameron Martella in 65th, Katelyn Duffing in 83rd, Thaliyia Christensen in 93rd, and Miranda Banks in 94th. Tightening their backend and closing the gap between their #2 and #3 runners could put them in contention for a 2nd place finish (yes, there really are that many teams battling for 2nd).
Northern Michigan had a disappointing race at Lewis (16th) compared to the rest of their season. This could be because consistent scorer Elise Longley had an off day.
Earlier in the season, the Wildcats beat Saginaw Valley, Michigan Tech, and Ferris State at the MSU Spartan Invite. They fell to drop Michigan Tech in their rematch at Roy Griak, but they kept the gap between them and the Huskies relatively small.
Katelyn Smith, Madison Malon, and Hannah Torvi have been consistent low-sticks for the Wildcats while the back end of Northern Michigan's scorers have varied throughout the season. Assuming Longley performs well, the Wildcats could also be in the mix for a top three finish.
Ferris State was 15th at Lewis with Kathryn Etelamaki securing a top 10 finish in 8th. Paige Deitering finished in 63rd before seeing a substantial gap open up to the #3 and #4 runners (Katelyn Hutchinson in 135th and Kylie Hutchinson in 139th). Rounding out the scoring five was Kensington Garvey in 160th. The Bulldogs will simply need to be better in the future, but they're not completely out of the conversation for top five finish this weekend.
On the individual side of things, Grand Valley is also the main part of the discussion. Allie Ludge should win pretty easily and consistent low-sticks Groeber, Goen, Gockley, and Graber (say that five times fast) should finish in the top 10.
Emily Byrd of Michigan Tech, Kathryn Etelamaki of Ferris State, Amanda Johnson of Wisconsin- Parkside, Morgan Fuerst and Jenny Keiser of Saginaw Valley are the runners to watch in the front pack.
1. Grand Valley State Lakers
2. Michigan Tech Huskies
3. Saginaw Valley Cardinals
1. Allie Ludge (Grand Valley State)
2. Hannah Groeber (Grand Valley State)
3. Emily Byrd (Michigan Tech)
4. Madison Goen (Grand Valley State)
5. Kathryn Etelamaki (Ferris State)
6. Jessica Gockley (Grand Valley State)
7. Amanda Johnson (Wisconsin- Parkside)
8. Natalia Graber (Grand Valley State)
9. Morgan Fuerst (Saginaw Valley)
10. Jenny Keiser (Saginaw Valley)