Julia Stock

Mark Northuis would not be surprised to see his Hope College women’s cross country team surpass its national ranking this week at the NCAA Division III Championships.

The Flying Dutch have a recent track record of making big strides at nationals.

“For the previous three championships, we have dropped 10-plus positions from where we were ranked going into the meet,” Northuis said. “We have always been a team that tapers well and is running our best at the national meet. Given our strong pack running and experience on the (national) course, we should finish in the Top 20 this weekend.

The 29th-ranked Flying Dutch are racing in the women’s championships on Saturday, Nov. 22, in King Island, Ohio.

The 6K race will be on the same course where Hope finished fourth at last weekend’s Great Lakes Regional meet. Click here to read about the regional meet.

Hope’s regional featured three other ranked teams: No. 8 Calvin, No. 10 Oberlin, Ohio, and No. 21 Mount Union.

A challenging schedule has helped the Flying Dutch qualify for nationals, Northuis said.

“Our sport requires us to be at our best in November, the time of the conference and NCAA Championship meets,” Northuis said. “This allows us to trained hard early in the season and travel to compete against the best teams in our and out of region. These experiences help to prepare us mentally and physically for the championships meets. When we face the tough competition at the end of the season. We are ready for most of the circumstances we face.”

The Flying Dutch will race Saturda, at 12:30 p.m.

Hope is making its fifth consecutive trips to nationals and 12th overall.

There is a group of 10 runners heading to nationals: senior Katie Afton of Portage, Michigan (Portage Central HS), sophomore Jessica Gaines of Sterling Heights, Michigan, Utica Academy for International Studies), senior Katherine Hauge of Blaine, Minnesota (Minnehah Academy), sophomore Erin Herrmann of Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton-Warrenville South HS), sophomore Emily Joosse of Chillicothe, Ohio (Zane Trace HS), junior Michelle Kerr of Dearborn, Michigan (Divine Child HS), junior Julia Stock of Spring Lake, Michigan (Grand Haven HS), senior Lindsay Timmerman of Hamilton, Michigan (Home School), freshman Rachael Webb of Grandville, Michigan (Grandville HS), and senior Emily Wrozek of Clarklake, Michigan (Hanover-Horton HS).

The Flying Dutch matched their second-best performance at nationals last season with a ninth-place effort. Click here for a look at Hope’s NCAA Championships history.

Northuis is proud of the Flying Dutch’s accomplishments so far this season. 

“One of our team’s daily goals is for each student-athlete to help their teammates improve in some aspect of their life, academically, athletically, or spiritually,” Northuis said. “This daily development helps us work together to achieve our seasonal goals. Each year competing at the national championship is one of our team goals. To be consistently competing at the national championship re-enforces the benefits of doing something daily to improve yourself and your teammates. It reflects very well on the individuals and the mutual vision we have on our teams.”