A solid core of returning veterans enhances one of the largest pre-season women's track and field rosters in recent years as the Flying Dutch seek to challenge for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championship.
A year ago the Flying Dutch finished second in a competitive race with champion Calvin. The Flying Dutch were also honored for their performance in the classroom with academic team honors from the MIAA and the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Coach Kevin Cole begins his seventh season with a nucleus of 32 returning letterwinners. The pre-season roster of 66 athletes includes 19 freshmen, 26 sophomores, nine juniors and 12 seniors.
Co-captains of the team are seniors Jacqueline Kirsch of Harbor Beach (Harbor Beach HS), Kelly Lufkin of Houghton (Houghton HS), and Kristen Reschke of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS).
Returning defending MIAA champions include sophomore Catherine White of Barre, Vt. (Spaulding HS), long jump; senior Katrina Gobrogge of Napoleon, Ohio (Archbold HS), 800-meter run; and junior Sarah Venlet of Zeeland (Holland Christian HS). Returning athletes from defending MIAA relay teams include Catherine White and Sarah Venlet in the 4x100 and Venlet, sophomore Caitlin Schwark of Wheaton, Ill. (Wheaton-Warrenville HS) and senior Kate Nelson of Williamston (Williamston HS) in the 4x400.
Kate Nelson has received All-MIAA honors in both cross country and track & field. This past fall sophomore Sheri McCormack of Holland (West Ottawa) received All-MIAA honors in cross country. Teammates Taylor Mattarella of Traverse City (Traverse City Central HS) and Kelly Lufkin were All-MIAA cross country honorees in 2010. Lufkin is the Hope record holder in the 3,000-meter steeplechase while Sarah Venlet holds the mark in the 400-meter hurdles. Venlet competed at the NCAA Division III championships in the 400-meter hurdles finishing 14th in a school-record time.
Returning athletes who had team-best performances in 2011 include Sarah Venlet, 100 and 200 meters and 400 meter hurdles; Kate Nelson, 800 and 1500 meters; sophomore Camille Borst of Allendale (Allendale HS), 3000 meters; sophomore Meredith Busman of Coopersville (Coopersville HS), 5000 and 10000 meters; Kelly Lufkin, 3000 meter steeplechase; Kristen Reschke, high jump and triple jump; Jacqueline Kirsch, pole vault; Catherine White, long jump; and sophomore Amanda Thomas of South Lyon (South Lyon HS), shotput.
The Gordon M. Brewer outdoor track underwent some major upgrades during the off-season, including an expansion to accommodate the running of the steeplechase and the installation of improved facilities for the hammer throw.