The men and women of the Hillsdale College cross-country teams competed in the GLIAC Championships this past weekend. The women placed sixth and the men eighth.
Grand Valley State University won both the men’s and women’s races, finishing with team scores of 29 and 25, respectively. In total, 31 schools raced on Oct. 20 at Maple Leaf Golf Course in Linwood, Mich.; 15 in the men’s race and 16 in the women’s.
Sophomore Joshua Mirth and freshman Emily Oren made the All-Conference teams.
The Hillsdale women, with a team score of 165, finished eight points back from 5th place Saginaw Valley State University.
Oren was 12th with a time of 21:48.1. Senior team captain Victoria McCaffrey (20th, 22:15.6) and freshman Kristina Galat (27th, 22:23.1) were next in for the Chargers.
McCaffrey said the team must close the gap between its 3rd and 4th runners for the regional meet in Nov.
“That’s where we are kind of hurting right now,” she said.
A 35-second gap separated Oren from Galat in Saturday’s race. Between Galat and junior Chelsea Kilgore (49th, 22:53.9) was 40 seconds. Sophomore Shena Albaugh (57th, 23:03.4) was the Hillsdale women’s last scoring runner.
The Hillsdale men finished with a team score of 209 between 7th place Saginaw Valley and 9th place Findlay University. Mirth led the team, finishing 4th in a time of 24:29.3.
Sophomore Luke Hickman (29th, 25:22.2) and freshman Paul Ausum (51st, 25:53.0) finished second and third for the team.
“We were happy with the race but not totally satisfied and we’re looking for a little more in two more weeks [at regionals],” senior team captain Matt Van Egmond said.
Sophomore Jack Butler (62nd, 26:13.9) and Van Egmond (63rd, 26:15.0) rounded out the top five for the men.
The Hillsdale men were without top runner and sophomore Matt Perkins. Perkins, who has consistently finished just behind Mirth, injured his knee recently and is expected to miss the rest of the cross country season. Van Egmond said if Perkins had run, he figures the team could have easily finished 5th.
Head men’s coach Jeff Forino said he was proud of the team’s effort, saying they “did everything we could do.” While team records weren’t readily available, Forino said he thinks Mirth ran maybe the fastest 8000-meter time ever by a Hillsdale athlete.
The teams will travel in a week and a half to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championships, which will be held in Kenosha, Wis. The men must place in the top four and the women in the top five if they are to qualify for the national meet, held two weeks after regionals in Joplin, Mo.
The women are currently ranked 8th in the region according to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association. The men are not ranked in the top 10.
Most of the top competition in the regional meet are in the GLIAC.
“Regionals will basically be a rematch,” McCaffrey said.
The regional meet will begin on Nov. 3 at 10:30 a.m.