Mike Barrett, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — As the Lake Superior State cross country teams close in on the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Championships, the men's and women's teams will be looking to replicate some of the success they have seen throughout this past season.
For sophomore David Mitter, memories of being a GLIAC All-Conference Second Team selection are still fresh in his mind from a season ago.
"It was very exciting and surprising," said Mitter, on his selection. "Eventually it sunk in."
Last season, the native of Howell, Michigan finished in 14th place the GLIAC Championships, held at Gentz's Homestead Golf Course in Marquette, Michigan. As a result, he became possibly the first Laker ever to be named to an All-Conference team.
"I've asked around a little and there's been no one for several years," said head coach Rob Gallinger. "I was a student here in 2011 and there's been no one in that time."
In addition to cross country, Mitter has seen success in track and field as well. At the Indoor Track Championships last season, he completed the 3000 Meter Run in 8:38.85 — the fourth-best finish by a freshman in the event.
A mechanical engineering major, Mitter initially found himself looking at Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech as possible schools.
"I visited both schools, but I felt right at home here and I never looked back," he remarked.
Mitter played hockey in his youth, but the seeds of running were sowed when he participated in local 5K's. His parents encouraged him to try cross country his freshman year of high school because of his performance in those 5K's.
"They said if I didn't like it, I could stick to hockey and now I'm running full time. I've never looked back at that being a bad thing."
His ambition even rubbed off on his father, who began running.
"My dad got into running because he saw me doing it and wanted to get healthier," said Mitter, adding that his father "just got done doing his first marathon this last weekend after 2½ years of training for it."
Like all cross country athletes at Lake State, Mitter is also a member of the track team. There is little time between the seasons, but he does not mind it.
"We have about a week long break between cross country and indoor track," said Mitter. "For me the break gets boring."
With track events, Mitter sticks to the longer races, running the 3K and the 1600 during the indoor season, and the 1500 and 5K for outdoor track.
A mechanical engineering major, he was drawn to the program for his fondness of building things and the mechanical processes involved, which nudged him towards that engineering discipline as opposed to electrical. "I took many shop classes in school as well as a manufacturing class," he said.
This past summer, Mitter interned at ZF TRW, a car parts manufacturer, in Fowlerville, Michigan. Working on the manufacturing side and making antilock brake systems (ABS) for vehicles, Mitter worked with engineers, assisting with product movement through the facility.
"I learned to operate CNC [computer numerical control] machines and worked with manual parts of an automated process," said Mitter.
In a degree that is heavy in math, it seems only natural that mathematics be pursued as a minor. He admits, though, that the math can be a struggle at times.
Mitter says the best parts of his program are the interactions with professors and the learning of the processes.
Although graduation is a few years away, Mitter is keeping an eye directed towards the future. Ideally, he would like to land a job in the automotive industry with a focus on robotics.
"Everything is moving towards robotics," he added.
This week, he and the rest of the cross country teams will be gearing up for the GLIAC Championships. Hosted by Grand Valley State, the event will be held at the Gainey Athletic Complex at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Last season, the men, led by Mitter's time of 26:09.1, finished in 9th place.
"I would really like to try and make the first team this year."
Leading up to the event, he is keeping his sights high.
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