Fall Season Features Memorable Journeys

A record-tying cross country run and a fourth NCAA volleyball regional title highlighted a successful start to the 2022-23 school year for Hope College Athletics.

Senior Ana Tucker equaled the highest finish in history for a Flying Dutch runner at the NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Championships, placed fourth in the nation to match performances from Erin Herrmann (2016) and Marcia VanderSall (1992). An exercise science major, Tucker led Hope to a 13th-place team finish at nationals and a seventh consecutive MIAA title while also earning first place during the fall NCAA Great Lakes Regional and MIAA individual championships. Hope hosted the regional at Three Fires Golf Club.

Men’s cross country saw sophomore Connor Vachon become the team’s first MIAA individual champion since 1986 and qualified to race at the NCAA Championships. The Flying Dutchmen placed seventh out of 38 teams for their highest regional finish in seven years, and second at the MIAA Championships in Alma by four points in the closest race in 36 years.

Vachon and Tucker made history as the first Hope runners to win MIAA men’s and women’s titles in the same season.

Led by All-American freshman setter Lauren Lee, volleyball advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the fourth time in team history. The Flying Dutch made an impressive run to the Grand Rapids, Michigan, regional title as the sixth seed, defeating three Top 10 teams in three days, including host Calvin University in the regional final. During the regular season, Hope gave head coach Becky Schmidt ’98 her 500th victory with a come-from-behind win against Albion College at DeVos Fieldhouse.

Men’s golf led wire-to-wire to return to the top of MIAA. Led by MIAA individual runner-up and senior Seth Almquist, the Flying Dutchmen capped a dominant performance over 108 holes that included winning all four league jamborees and the 36-hole, two-day MIAA Fall Finish. Hope finished 43 strokes ahead of runner-up Trine University and clinched an opportunity to host the final two rounds of the 54-hole NCAA Championships qualifier this spring.

A total of 38 Hope student-athletes received All-MIAA recognition in eight sports, including football, women’s golf, men’s soccer and women’s soccer, along with men’s cross country, women’s cross country and volleyball.

In October, the annual Purple Community Games were held on campus. Men’s and Women’s Soccer, led, respectively, by head coaches David Blahnik and Leigh Sears, combined to raise $6,800.30 to fund an internship for a Hope student at Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids.