10/22/2011 – Aquinas College played host to the biggest NAIA cross country meet in the country at Riverside Park. The NAIA Great Lakes Challenge drew 35 teams from as far away as New York, Iowa, and California. The host Saints placed second on the men's side, while the ladies capped the day off with an impressive fourth place finish.
The men's team was led by the trio of Dustin Heiler, Nick Thelen and Devin Lea. Heiler led the charge finishing in sixth place with a time of 25:11, while the former Grand Ledge products, Thelen (25:22) and Lea (25:26), came of the course in ninth and twelfth respectively. The team score was helped the by the breakthrough performance of freshman Stephen Glinski (27th - 25:53), who teamed up with Danny Foley (28th - 25:53) to round out the scoring for the Saints.
The men's field saw a record 327 runners finish the race.
Overall Team Finish (Top 5 teams)
1. (#7) Shawnee State 64
2. (#12) Aquinas 82
3. (#15) St. Francis (Ill.) 94
4. (#18) Olivet Nazarene 121
5. (#23) Siena Heights 183
-national ranking in parentheses -
The women's meet saw the Saints pack it up and defeat three ranked schools in front of them (St. Xavier #13, Taylor #17, and #21 Roberts Wesleyan). Catie Rietsema (26th - 18:55) and Alina Dhaseleer (28th - 18:58) led the Saints pack with strong finishes. Aquinas also received fine performances from Rachel Luehm (41st - 19:16), Emily Sandula (50th - 19:25), and Carly Plank (51st - 19:25). The women's field also set a record with 337 runners crossing the finish line.
Overall Team Finish (Top Five Teams)
1. (#1) Azusa Pacific 59
2. (#6) Olivet Nazarene 70
3. (RV) Shawnee State 182
4. (#24) Aquinas 196
5. (#21) Roberts Wesleyan 212
The Saints will return to action in two weeks at the WHAC Championships.