The Hope College men’s cross country team is looking to make strides in the 2017 season.

The Flying Dutchmen came into the season in better shape after raising expectations after last season, coach Mark Northuis said.  

“They’re ready to compete as college athletes,” Northuis said. “The freshman runners, most of them, were injured last season. They were not ready for college running. We tried to develop an offseason plan for getting better. It carried over into the spring and throughout the whole summer.

“We tried to make some adjustments with our long-term development to help him make the transition from 5K in high school to 8K in college.”

Hope has four runners of its group of 23 who helped the Flying Dutchmen take ninth place at regionals last season.

Senior Benjamin Pederson of Mount Prospect, Illinois (Prospect) was Hope’s second-fastest regional runner. He was 39th.

Senior Jacob Jansen of Johnston, Iowa (Johnston) took 65th at regionals. Juniors Ryan Holman of Holmen, Wisconsin (Holmen) and Nathan Schloff of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian) were 110th and 157th, respectively, at regionals.

The Flying Dutchmen have a roster with four seniors, six juniors, six sophomores and seven freshmen.

Hope opens the 2017 season on Saturday, September 2 with the annual season-opening Bill Vanderbilt Invitational at Ridge Point Church. Calvin, Cornerstone, Davenport, Grace Bible and Muskegon Community College will be in the field.