Story by Hayden Modaff, Saint Reporter
Image courtesy of Jacob Schantz
In a year full of potential for Aquinas College Athletic teams one of our programs has already realized their’s and is off and running. The Women’s Cross Country program, led by Coach Mike Wojciakowski, who is entering his 20th year at the helm, is currently ranked #2 in the country for NAIA Women’s Cross Country teams.
Only one meet into the season they’re living up to the hype, placing second overall out of 25 at the Calvin College Invitational that took place on Sept. 9. Their second place finish came at the hands of NCAA Division II Grand Valley State. Aquinas edged out Madonna, who ran well enough for third place on the podium. On top of this fantastic team accomplishment Melissa Winchester finished second overall out of 259 runners. Junior Alexis Miller and senior Adri Sigafoose also placed in the top ten, finishing eighth and ninth respectively.
When asked about the Calvin Invitational, Miller said that the team used this meet to polish up their packing skills throughout the race. Their high finish showed not only Coach Wojciakowski but also the team that if they trust the process and buy in they can be an unstoppable force this season.
Miller also said that this race was for establishing the team’s running principles. Coach Woj stresses that the first two miles of the race are for fundamentals and execution of the game plan with the final mile being “running with your heart.”
Miller commented on how excited the team is to be ranked #2 in the country and stressed that such an honor is only making the team hungrier to move up the podiums, a driving force behind every mile they log this season. She also said that this team truly believes that after coming so close the last couple of seasons that they have what it takes to win it all if they continue to all work towards a common goal. All the die-hard Saints cross country fans might have to save up some airline miles, however, as the NAIA Cross Country National Championships are being held in Oregon and Washington state this fall, a destination we all hope and believe our Saints can make it to.
The Saints are back in action Sept. 22 at the GRCC Invitational, however their first “home” event this season comes Oct. 21 at the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge, held here in Grand Rapids. What an exciting team to follow, destined for spectacular races and moments this fall that will hopefully culminate with a trophy ceremony and banner raising in Sturrus.