“I just wanted to come out and see how I feel in my training,” said Nordquist, who was camping with his family in Holland and decided last minute to come out and compete in the race. “It was hard to set a pace because there was nobody in front of me.”
Duff said he was surprised to see Nordquist at the starting line.
“It was a little intimidating when all of a sudden he comes out here,” said Duff, a recent Grand Haven High School grad. “When I saw him, I was like, ‘Aw man, this is going to be fun.’ It was a nice surprised. I ran pretty well. I can’t wait to get in a little better shape.”
Duff has a few more weeks to himself before he joins the GVSU cross country team. Nordquist is excited to have someone of Duff’s potential joining the Lakers’ squad.
“I’ve talked to Joe quite a bit, and he’s going to be quite a runner,” Nordquist said.
Russ Werra of Walker placed third with a time of 17:37. Spring Lake’s Tyler Fedewa took fourth at 18:20.
The first female finisher was Jenison’s Jana Baatenburg, 23. She was the 17th overall finisher with a time of 19:17.
A total of 306 runners and walkers took part in the 5K event, which serves as a fundraiser for the Grand Haven middle school and high school cross country teams.
The addition of a middle school program has done wonders for the Buccaneers’ varsity teams. This past fall, Grand Haven’s girls won the Division 1 state championship while Duff helped guide the Buccaneer boys to a 10th-place finish.
“We wouldn’t have a great high school program without a great middle school program,” Buccaneers’ girls coach Greg Russick said. “This is a special event because it’s so community oriented. Ninety percent of the people who participate live in Grand Haven, Spring Lake, the Tri-Cities area. It’s very family oriented.
We’re trying to make a profit so we can support our program, but we also want to give back to our community.”
Varsity boys coach John Tarr added that his team this past fall depended heavily on individuals who began their career in the middle school program.
“The girls were state champions last year, and over half the girls participate din the middle school program,” Tarr said. “The boys finished 10th in the state, and over half of those boys participated in middle school. On the varsity level, the ones who didn’t moved into the district after middle school.
“They run in that program, they learn about our system, and they’re used to the system when the get into ninth grade. It develops them over a period of seven years instead of four years.”