Sophomore Joshua Mirth placed fourth at last weekend’s NCAA Midwest Regional meet. The first GLIAC runner to finish the men’s 10,000 meter race, Mirth will be Hillsdale College’s sole representative at the national meet on Nov. 17.
Grand Valley State University won both the men’s 10,000 meter race and the women’s 5,000 meter race with 62 and 45 points, respectively. The top-five teams for both men and women qualified for nationals, plus the top‑3 individuals times outside of the qualifying teams.
The women’s team scored 169 points, and, despite placing three runners in the top-25, they barely missed qualifying for nationals, finishing 15 points behind fifth place. The men’s team scored 272 points and finished 9th.
“This was probably one of the only meets ever we could say to each other, ‘We couldn’t have done any more than this,” Men’s head coach Jeff Forino said.
Senior Victoria McCaffrey was first to finish for the women at 14th in 21:46. McCaffrey missed qualifying for nationals by eight seconds and six places. She was followed closely by freshmen Emily Oren (17th, 21:56) and Kristina Galat (24th, 22:08).
All three women were named to the All-Region team, which is composed of the top-25 runners. After Grand Valley, Hillsdale tied Saginaw Valley State University for second-most runners to make the All-Region team.
Junior Chelsea Kilgore (56th, 22:52) and sophomore Shena Albaugh (58th, 22:54) were the last two Hillsdale women to score.
“I think they were happy with how they did but not satisfied because of where they want to be eventually,” head women’s coach Andrew Towne said.
Cedarville University’s junior Matt Booker started the men’s race hard. Booker (30:35)would hold that lead and win, and in the process he strung out the lead pack.
“I just tried to stay in contact with someone and work my way up as I could,” Mirth said.
Mirth, the first GLIAC runner to finish, placed 4th in a time of 31:12. Without injured sophomore Matt Perkins, Hillsdale’s next runner was freshman John Bell (52nd, 32:26), who nipped sophomore Luke Hickman at the line(53rd, 32:26).
Freshman Paul Ausum (70th, 32:43) and sophomore Jack Butler (93rd, 33:15) were the last two Hillsdale men to score.
Senior team captains Andrew Koehlinger and Matt Van Egmond, who finished 6th and 7th for the team, respectively, said they were happy with how the team did, but acknowledged their disappointment at missing nationals.
“No nationals, but without Matt Perkins it was going to be tough,” Van Egmond said. “Credit to all the other teams in the region – they really stepped it up this year.”
Of the top-10 teams, the average time for a scoring runner was about 31:59. The overall winner of last year’s Midwest regional race, Grand Valley’s Anthony Witt, finished in a time of 31:58. The women’s race saw a similar shift in times.
Forino said the drop of times can be accredited the addition of several teams to the region, including men’s 4th place Cedarville. Mostly though, Forino said, the region is simply getting faster.
But even with the region getting better, Forino and Towne agreed that if this years regional performance proves anything, Hillsdale cross-country has a bright future.