Both the men and women’s teams entered the NCAA D‑II Midwest Regional meet on Nov. 22 looking to finish in the top four to quality for the national meet on Dec. 6.
The women clinched their goal with a second place finish, just behind their unwavering competitor, Grand Valley State University. The men unfortunately fell just short of qualifying for nationals, finishing in sixth place.
“We knew Grand Valley was number one [in the women’s division],” Lynn. “Just like usual, we didn’t back down.”
While the men’s team will not be travelling to Nationals, they will not go without representation.
Senior Joshua Mirth, who was named an All-American in 2012, qualified individually for Nationals. His 10K time of 30:32.8 earned him an impressive 3rd place finish at the regional meet.
“Obviously, anything could happen,” Mirth said. “Based on Regionals, I think I’m in as good of shape as I ever have been, so if I run like that again, I think I will do well.”
This will not be Mirth’s first time running at the national meet and Coach Lynn thinks this race will be no different than the others.
“He will establish himself upfront and run with the leaders,” Lynn said. “He is resilient.”
Although the men’s season is over, both the coaches and runners are satisfied with how the season went.
“Both Coach Towne and I are really proud of the guys” Lynn said.
With six seniors graduating, the team left Saturday knowing they had a great year. Moving forward, Lynn plans to continue raising the team’s standards.
The women’s team has performed spectacularly throughout the season.
“This season we went in with a different level of expectation,” senior captain Chelsea Kilgore said. “While our place at Nationals was not assured, there was little doubt that we would make it. We were relieved by definitely making it through, yes, but it was no surprise.”
“We just did what we wanted to do,” junior Emily Oren said.
Taking first place as the regional champion, Oren’s place and time of 20:45.4 makes her a top individual contender at the National meet.
Junior Kristina Galat ran strong, taking eighth place with a time of 21:15. Freshman Hannah McIntyre ran time of 21:32.4, taking 18th place.
“Hannah has really come in big for us this season” Lynn said.
Sophomore Molly Oren and junior Kathryn Royer finished with times of 21:40 and 22:21, showing consistency throughout the season, and senior Amy Kerst finished her last regional meet with a time of 24:03.
“This team has depth and talent that we’ve never seen before at Hillsdale and our training methods have been working,” Kilgore said.
Progress and consistent success have propelled the women’s team to a state of competitive readiness, Kilgore said.
Training for the national meet is not going to be much different than seasonal training, according to Lynn. Minor implementations will occur to make sure the runners are as fresh as possible.
“We’ve had a routine going for four months now that has obviously worked. Now our focus is to maintain that,” Lynn said.
As far as strategy goes, Lynn stresses the importance to be aggressive and establish their place in the race, trusting in their training and strength.
“This is not an individual event,” Lynn said. “It’s about the teams’ strength as a whole, like it has been all year.”
Hillsdale’s biggest competitors on Saturday will be GVSU, Adams State University in Colorado, and Augustana College in Illinois.
No matter the outcome, Lynn knows the women will walk away with positive results.
“It’s our responsibility to take control and not worry about the other teams,” Lynn said. “They have stood up to the challenge each time, we’re looking to do that one more time.”