09/16/2011 – The men's and women's cross teams opened the 2011 season with a solid showing at the National Catholic Championships in South Bend, Indiana. The men, who are ranked 10th nationally, placed 10th in the 31 team men's field. The women, who are ranked 12th in the NAIA, placed 15th among the 33 schools in the women's division. Both squads were the top NAIA school in the field. The host Irish won both the men's and women's team championships.
The men, who finished with 267 points, were led by four seniors. Dustin Heiler led the charge with a 22nd place finish in a time of 25:26. Mike Gravelyn (50th - 25:50) and Devin Lea (59th - 25:58) finished in the second and third scoring positions for the Saints. Nick Thelen (67th - 26:05) and Jim Janisse (73rd - 26:10) rounded out the scoring for Aquinas. Adding depth to the top seven were Kolin Stickney (75th - 26:12) and Dan Foley (76th - 26:13).
The women, who finished with 416 points, were led by the strong performance of freshman Catie Rietsema who finished in 58th place with a time of 18:55. The Saints also received solid efforts from Rachel Luehm (79th - 19:10), Carly Plank (98th - 19:28), Megan Byrne (106th - 19:34) and Alina Dhasaleer (111th - 19:40). Rachel Reyna (116th - 19:44) and Brittany Andres (117th - 19:44) both ran personal bests to round out the top seven for the Saints.
Aquinas will return to action on Saturday as the rest of the team will compete at Calvin Knight Invitational which will begin at 10 a.m.