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(Grand Rapids, Mich.) With four of the top fifteen teams in the NAIA entered, the Great Lakes Challenge promised to be a pivotal race going into the national qualifying meets in two weeks. Cold drizzle replaced the steady rain from earlier in the week, giving the 255 runners several puddles and slick corners to negotiate.
Cornerstone senior, Zach Ripley proved once again that his is one of the best in the NAIA, taking the pack through the opening mile in 4:49.By two miles, only Nathan Martin of Spring Arbor could match the pace as the pair come through in 9:57.One mile later, Ripley started to ease away and by four miles he was thirty meters in front. He extended his lead to twelve seconds, taking the win in 25:07.
The rest of the Golden Eagles got out well but were out-performed by several teams who ran remarkably well. Alex Green held on to finish 14th in 25:56 with Stephan Larson 33rd in 26:24. Billy Carl (61st / 27:13) and Travis Mabe (75th / 27:35) rounded out the top five.
Underdogs ruled the day with seventh ranked Aquinas holding off a great effort by #6 Shawnee State to win 57-58.Twenty-sixth rated Cedarville took third, three points ahead of ninth ranked Olivet Nazarene. Unranked Siena Heights finish fifth ahead of Cornerstone in sixth among 21 scoring teams.