The Hillsdale men’s cross-country team made the biggest jump in the nation in rankings this week thanks to a stellar performance in Louisiville over the weekend.
The US Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association had Hillsdale ranked 24th, but after sweeping the competition at the Greater Louiville Cross-Country Classic meet they moved up to 13th.
Eight men of the Chargers’ varsity squad won the Louisville meet and the eight women competing earned 10th place. The rest of the team members ran this weekend at Notre Dame’s course in Indiana where the women placed 25th and the men came in 20th.
“We had a great day across the board,” sophomore Joe Newcomb said.
“Both meets were helpful in gauging the men and women’s fitness levels,” said head coach Joe Lynn.
About 120 – 130 schools from various divisions were represented at the Louisville meet.
The meet was split into two heats based off of regional and national rankings. The women competed in the gold race, the men in blue.
“It was exactly where we needed to be. It was good confidence building in order to execute a good race plan,” Lynn said on the men’s performance. “For the ladies, the gold race is where we wanted to be. We were in a little over our heads but it was a good level of competition and experience.”
Competing against 356 runners from over 40 schools, the men’s team took first place, averaging a time of 25:10. The team put up a weekly rank of 3rd in the region.
Senior Joshua Mirth took second place overall. He finished the 8K with a time of 24:36. Junior Luke Hickman trailed close behind Mirth finishing fourth with a time of 24:54. Their almost back-to-back placing was a huge factor in the team’s overall score.
“The competition was pretty good. Similar to what we will see in terms of the conference meet. The weather was great, the course flat, we couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Mirth said.
The women’s team raced in the gold heat against 300 ladies from 30 different teams. Their 10th place finish was a feat considering the heat contained the highest ranked runners. Junior Kristina Galat was Hillsdale’s top runner. She finished with a personal best 5K time of 17:35. Despite their place, the team appreciated running in a more competitive race.
“We beat a bunch of D‑I teams, which is exciting,” Galat remarked.
Along with Galat, Oren and junior Kate Royer also put up personal best times in the 5K.
Both teams hope to see the Louisville course again in December where the National meet will be held.
The team agreed it was helpful to see the course and anticipate what it will be like if they qualify for the Nationals.
“It was a good mental boost to see us do well. I think everyone has a positive outlook after the results this weekend,” Mirth said. “We ran well this past weekend, let’s come back and do it again in December.”
At the Notre Dame Invitational, both teams put up promising times despite their lower final placings.
“The Notre Dame kids did a good job, regardless of the course and weather. They ran well, that’s the point of cross country,” Lynn said.
Even after this weekend’s success, no one is guaranteed a spot on the varsity team for the remainder of the season, Lynn said.
Freshmen Amanda Bodery and Samuel Phillips put up solid times this week. Seniors Chelsea Kilgore and Matthew Perkins also stepped up, showing their ability to contribute to the team.
“Kilgore’s race will prob ably earn her a spot on the varsity team,” sophomore Molly Oren predicted. “That just shows there is a lot of depth of the team across the board.”
With just nine weeks of their season left, the team will not be taking a break.
“We are excited about the results from last weekend, but by no means are we satisfied,” Lynn said.