HOLLAND -- The small college cross country season begins Saturday (Sept. 5) with the traditional Vanderbilt Invitational hosted by Hope College. The meet will be run at the Ridge Point Church on Holland's southeast side beginning at 10:30 a.m.

HOLLAND -- The small college cross country season begins Saturday (Sept. 5) with the traditional Vanderbilt Invitational hosted by Hope College. The meet will be run at the Ridge Point Church on Holland's southeast side beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Started in 1966, the meet is named in honor of William Vanderbilt, Sr. who coached the Hope cross country program from 1971-87. A 1961 Hope graduate, Vanderbilt guided Hope cross country teams to 17 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championships, 14 by the men and three by the women. He coached current Hope cross country coach Mark Northuis who was an All-MIAA distance runner.

While at Hope, Vanderbilt chaired the department of physical education, recreation and athletics. He also served as president of the NCAA Division III Cross Country Coaches Association and in 1987 brought the Division III national championships to Holland. As a student-athlete, he lettered in basketball, baseball and track. He was captain of the basketball team as a senior and won the MIAA championship in the high jump in 1959. He received the masters degree from the University of Michigan and the Ph.D. from the University of Utah. Vanderbilt left the Hope faculty in 1988.

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

Joining Hope will be teams from Albion, Cornerstone, Ferris State, Grace, Grand Valley State, Marygrove, Olivet, and Hope.

Hope is the defending champion in both the men's and women's races. 

Hope will also host the MIAA Jamboree on Saturday, Sept. 26. 


The Flying Dutchmen face a rebuilding task from a squad that finished second in the 2008 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) standings.

The Flying Dutchmen have a long history of competitiveness in the MIAA and NCAA Division III Great Lakes Region. Under coach Mark Northuis the past 21 seasons, the team has finished third or higher every year in the conference standings.

The 2008 team had five All-MIAA honorees, but four of them were seniors. The only returning all-league is senior Matt Wiersum of Minnetonka, Minn. (Minnetonka HS).

This year's squad returns 16 letterwinners. The pre-season roster of 29 athletes includes 11 freshmen, six sophomores, five juniors and seven seniors.

Joining Wiersum as co-captains are seniors Ryan Jara of Commerce Township (Walled Lake North HS) and Kent Reschke of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS).

Other returning letterwinners include senior Eric Anderson of Ann Arbor (Pioneer HS), junior Carl Dunker of Bloomfield Hills (Seaholm HS), sophomore Ben Fineout of Zeeland (Zeeland East HS), junior Kevin Hagan of Okemos (Okemos HS), sophomore Brian Hernandez of Saline (Saline HS), senior Collin Kooy of Metamora (Flint Power Catholic HS), sophomore Bruce Kraay of Zeeland (Zeeland East HS), sophomore Nathan Love of Midland (Midland HS), junior Chris Mauney of South Lyon (South Lyon HS), sophomore Andrew McKeachie of Milford (Milford HS), junior Jordan Richardson of Reading (Reading HS), and senior Lucas Wolthuis of Vicksburg (Vicksburg HS).

WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY OUTLOOKA solid nucleus of returning veterans will be key to the success of the Hope College women's cross country team this fall.

The 2008 Flying Dutch finished second in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and ninth in the Great Lakes Regional of NCAA Division III.

Coach Mark Northuis begins his 22nd season at the helm of the Hope cross country program. Under his tenure, the Flying Dutch finished third or higher every season in the MIAA standings.

The roster of 27 athletes includes 14 returning letterwinners. There are 10 freshmen, six sophomores, eight juniors and three seniors.

The tri-captains are senior Jacqueline Beeler of Plymouth (Plymouth HS), junior Emily Fischer of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville Central HS), and senior Joanne Gabl of Saline, Mich. (Saline HS).

A year ago four Hope underclassmen received All-MIAA second team honors. Forming the nucleus of this year's team will be sophomore Kate Nelson of Williamston (Williamston HS), sophomore Kelly Luftkin of Houghton (Houghton HS), sophomore Karlyn Sikma of Grand Rapids (North Pointe Christian HS), and junior Emily Fischer, Hope (sophomore from Naperville, Ill./ Central HS). Returning junior Susan Savasky of Berkley (Berkley) was an All-MIAA second team honoree in 2007. Hope's top four finishes in the 2008 NCAA Great Lakes Regional return -- Kate Nelson, Karlyn Sikma, Kelly Luftkin and Susan Savasky.

Other returning letterwinners include sophomore Alyssa Ambrose of Okemos (Okemos HS), junior Sarah Anthony of Mt. Pleasant (Mt. Pleasant HS), junior Claire Bird of New Paltz, N.Y. (New Paltz HS), junior Kate Brundige of Vicksburg (Vicksburg HS), sophomore Salome Emmanuel of Wheaton, Ill. (Wheaton North HS), sophomore Katrina Gobrogge of Napoleon, Ohio (Archbold HS), senior Emma Lucas of Cadillac (Cadillac HS), junior Elle Munoa of Holland (West Ottawa HS), and senior Faith Whitehouse of Manton (Manton HS).