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Grand Rapids Community College cross country teams achieve program first

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Grand Rapids Community College’s cross country teams don’t focus much on rankings, times and any other numbers associated with the sport.

It would be tempting to do so this fall since the women are ranked fifth in the nation while the men are 10th, marking the first time in program history that both teams have been ranked in the top 10.

In addition, Joshua Kipkoech has been named the National Junior College Athletic Association Cross Country Runner of the Week this week.

But the Raiders would rather focus on effort than results.

“You get a little excited when you find out that you are ranked in the top five, but you know you have to focus on getting the work done and stay injury free and make sure you are helping out your teammates,” assistant coach Sharon Becker said. “(Head) Coach Matt (Sicilia) over the years tells our runners don’t worry so much about place because we want to focus on the effort. All the way down to the slowest runner on the team, we emphasize that you have to go 100 percent every race like you are going to win nationals.

“What is your attitude and how are you going to help your teammates out? We don’t care if we get 10th place or first place as much as did you really run your very best today and did you do your everything you could for your teammates.”

Sicilia started GRCC’s cross country program from scratch in 2014, and the culture he has built was evident during the Raiders’ performance in this past Saturday’s Michigan Community College Athletic Association meet at Jackson College. It was the second meet of the season, and the men’s and women’s squads were both victorious for the second-straight meet.

GRCC sophomore Kiah Becker took