Defenders Claim GPAC Titles

Defenders Claim GPAC Titles

The Dordt College Defender cross country teams pulled off a rare sweep of the GPAC Championships on Saturday morning, November 3 at North Bend Golf Course hosted by Midland.

The Dordt men claimed their first ever GPAC title while the women won its second title and sixth of the last seven awarded.

Annachiena Knevelbaard and Jake Steiger won their respective individual title as well.

It’s the first time since the GPAC was formed that both team titles and both individuals winners all came from the same school.

Both Dordt teams will run at the NAIA National Championship on Friday, November 16.


Dordt College won the GPAC women’s title with a convincing win at the championship meet run at North Bend Golf Course hosted by Midland on Saturday, November 3.

Annechiena Knevelbaard was the individual champion and led the Defenders with a time of 18:25 which was five seconds in front of her nearest competitor. 

Olivia Couch and Sarah Wensink both claimed top-10 spots with sixth and seventh times of 19:12 and 19:22 respectively.  Sienna De Jong earned all-GPAC honors for the Defenders with a 15th place finish and a time of 19:38. 

Erin Bandstra ran 16th to complete Dordt’s scoring for with 45 total points which was 23 points in front of Hastings in second and Northwestern placed third with 69.

The Defenders earn an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championship race on Friday, November 16 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

103 runners competed in the 5,000 meter race.

This was Dordt’s second title in a row and its sixth since 2012. 

Knevelbaard joins Jen Kempers (2008) and Michelle Steiger (2010) as individual champions for Dordt College.  It’s the first time since 2011 that the individual champion was also a member of the team that won the title.


Annechiena Knevelbaard 1/18:25

Olivia Couch 6/19:12

Sarah Wensink 7/19:22

Sienna De Jong 15/19:38

Erin Bandstra 16/19:41

Danielle Van Zanten 19/19:46

Tiana Schroeder 30/20:14

Annika Brands 35/20:22

Katlyn Hoogland 53/21:03

Linnea Clark 103/30:11


“With only four returners from last year’s conference championship team, it was a great day for the women’s team.  Annechiena Knevelbaard continued her strong year, earning an individual conference championship to add to her season.  Olivia Couch, Sarah Wensink, Sienna DeJong, Erin Bandstra, and Danielle VanZanten raced incredibly well and finished in the top-20.  The ladies team moved very well over the last 1,000 meters to put themselves in position to win the team championship.  This group’s unity and toughness has stood out all year and was a strength again for them today.  It was a fun day to be a Defender.”


Dordt College won the GPAC men’s title by 41 points on Saturday, November 3 at the championship meet run at North Bend Golf Course hosted by Midland.  It was Dordt’s first conference title in men’s cross country.

Eric Steiger spearheaded the Dordt effort with a first place finish of 26:12 and claimed the individual title by three seconds over Morningside’s Anthony Patton. 

Jacob Vander Plaats and Davis Tebben ran sixth and seventh in times of 26:25 as the two were separated by less than a second. Anthony Ghiorso claimed tenth in 26:34 and Nicolas Veldhorst claimed 13th and all-GPAC honors that go with a top-15 finish. Veldhorst’s time of 26:41 completed Dordt’s scoring with 37.  Northwestern was second with 78.

92 runners competed in the 11-team field on the 8,000 meter course.

Dordt claims the automatic berth to the NAIA National Championship in Cedar Rapids on November 16 that goes to the GPAC Champion.

Dordt’s previous best finish in the GPAC field was a pair of runner up finishes in 2011 and 2016. 

Steiger is Dordt’s first men’s champion since the GPAC was formed in 2000.


Eric Steiger 1/26:12

Jacob Vander Plaats 6/26:26

Davis Tebben 7/26:26

Anthony Ghiorso 10/26:34

Nicolas Veldhorst 13/26:41

Chris Ellens 20/27:05

Lance Van Zee 21/27:10

Payton Kooi 28/27:36

Tristan Hulstein 39/28:15


“The men raced very well today, earning the first ever Dordt Men’s GPAC Cross Country team championship.  Eric Steiger continued a standout freshman season, winning the individual GPAC crown.  Jacob VanderPlaats, Davis Tebben, Anthony GhiorsoNic Veldhorst, Chris Ellens, and Lance VanZee raced strong and finished in the top-21 of the meet.  At the start of the season, this young group of guys committed to working to build a culture that pushed each other for accountability.  Today was both a step in that process and a validation of the work they have put in to create that culture.  It was special for these guys to finish so close to each other after all the miles they have cover together this season.”