The small college cross country season begins Saturday (Sept. 2) with the traditional Hope Invitational involving several teams from Michigan and Illinois.

The meet will be run at the historic city-owned Van Raalte Farm on east 16th Street beginning at 11 a.m.

The first Hope Invitational was held in men's cross country in 1966. The women's cross country component was added in 1980.

Teams scheduled to compete include Albion, Alma, Cornerstone, Hope, North Central, Ill., and Olivet.

Hope is the two-time defending champion in the men's 8K race while Alma will be seeking to repeat in the women's 5K.

Mark Northuis begins his 12th season as the Hope cross country coach.

This will be the team's only home meet this season. There will be seven other invitational meets including the MIAA championships at Albion on Oct. 28 and the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional at Hanover, Ind. on Nov. 11.

Men's Cross Country Pre-Season Outlook

The Flying Dutchmen return 15 runners, including four All-MIAA honorees, for the 2000 season.

A year ago coach Mark Northuis' Flying Dutchmen finished third in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) standings and were sixth at the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional.

The pre-season roster of 31 runners includes eight freshmen, eight sophomores, eight juniors and seven seniors.

Senior Joe Veldman of Sawyer, Mich. and junior Dylan Wade of Beulah, Mich. have been All-MIAA first team honorees each of the last two seasons. Last fall they were fourth and sixth respectively at the MIAA championships. Veldman went on to qualify for the NCAA Division III championships by finishing sixth at the Great Lakes Regional. At nationals he was 55th in a field of 212 runners.

Senior Garett Childs of Breckenridge, Mich. was an All-MIAA second team honoree in 1998. This past spring he was the MIAA track champion in the 1,500-meter run. Tri-captains of the team will be Childs, Veldman and Louis Williams of Paw Paw, Mich.

Other returning letterwinners include junior Keith Cravotta of Sussex, N.J., senior Tim Cupery of Holland, Mich., sophomore James Grosse of Three Oaks, Mich., senior Fred Herschelman of Ortonville, Mich., senior Brennan Hughey of Elsie, Mich., sophomore Lee Kiessel of Suttons Bay, Mich., junior David Lichtenberger of Lansing, Mich., sophomore Joe Phillips of Kalamazoo, Mich., sophomore Jeremiah Saier of Honor, Mich., sophomore Peter Schaafsma of Cadillac, Mich., and junior Dane Splinter of Libertyville, Ill.

Women's Cross Country Pre-Season Outlook

The 2000 Flying Dutch will have a balance of veteran runners and promising newcomers in their bid to remain one of the nation's top NCAA Division III women's cross country programs.

In 1999 the Flying Dutch, coached by Mark Northuis, finished second in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and were fifth at the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional meet.

The pre-season roster of 37 runners includes 17 returning letterwinners. There are nine freshmen, eight sophomores, 11 juniors and nine seniors.

The Flying Dutch return three runners who achieved All-MIAA honors last fall. Senior Jennifer Ernst of Westerville, Ohio achieved All-MIAA first team recognition and went on to earn NCAA All-America distinction by finishing 25th at nationals. Seniors Jami Grant of Holt, Mich. and Nicole Reynolds of Mattawan, Mich. received All-MIAA second team honors. Senior Erica Torgerson of Weidman, Mich. was the MIAA conference champion in the 400-meter hurdles. Ernst and Grant will join senior Sarah Golden of Valparaiso, Ind. as tri-captains of the team.

Other returning letterwinners include senior Cara Brackenridge of Mattawan, Mich., senior Andrea Egeler of Fruitport, Mich., junior Lauren Hermes of Arlington Heights, Ill., junior Anna King of Downers Grove, Ill., sophomore Tiffany Nelson of Sand Lake, Mich., senior Shannon Oakley of Lincoln Park, Mich., junior Jaime Passchier of Rockford, Mich., sophomore Kristen Post of Holland, Mich., sophomore Sarah Sanderson of Holland, sophomore Sarah Schripsema of Kalamazoo, Mich., sophomore Kathryn Veldman of Three Oaks, Mich., and junior Heather Wicklund of North St. Paul, Minn.