Cross Country Intercollegiate Meet

The Hillsdale College men’s cross-country team fin­ished first and the women’s team second in the Michigan Inter­col­le­giate Cham­pi­onships meet on Oct. 9, bringing the Chargers’ regular season cam­paign to a close.
While the women placed second in the meet, they finish the season ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division II coaches poll for the fourth week in a row.
The women’s race included five teams and 40 ath­letes, while the men’s race was even smaller with only three teams and 29 ath­letes. Even though the race didn’t have big com­pe­tition, it was still an important race for a number of runners “on the bubble,” who are unsure of whether or not they will make the GLIAC con­ference team.
“We went in and got accom­plished what we wanted to from the meet,” head dis­tance coach Joe Lynn said.
Lynn had a number of dif­ferent race plans for the team, with race plans even dif­fering within the men’s and women’s squads. Many of the ath­letes on the bubble treated the meet like a regular race, while the top men and women ran it as more of a hard workout, either prac­ticing racing strategy or pacing team­mates.
“You put yourself in dif­ferent sit­u­a­tions so that, come cham­pi­onship season, if you get out too fast or you get out too slow or something’s not perfect, it’s not a new sit­u­ation for us,” Lynn said.
On the men’s side, Lynn was proud of the “high level” at which they raced even though Inter­col­le­giates wasn’t a typical meet.
Junior Luke Daigneault agreed.
“I think it was a step in the right direction,” Daigneault said. “We still have some things that we’re rounding out in our training. It’s def­i­nitely not a move back­wards.”
According to Daigneault, who fin­ished fourth overall in the race, the meet was low-key, but still a nice victory. Although cross-country is often thought of as an indi­vidual sport, the men ran as a team.
“We were really tight as a group hon­estly,” Daigneault said. “It really goes into the thing we were trying to do, and that’s racing in the hills, because that’s what we have to do at con­ference.”
Although results are somewhat mis­leading because not all of the men were giving full race effort, the team’s gap from first to seventh place was much smaller than it has been in past weeks — only 53 seconds.
Freshman San­tiago Quintana, one of the runners on the bubble, had a breakout race, running a per­sonal best 8K time and placing seventh on the team. Quintana said he looks up to junior captain Joe Newcomb for inspi­ration on what it means to be an elite runner.
Despite the team’s improvement, Daigneault said the race’s results don’t guar­antee success later in the season.
“Our team still has a lot of work if we think we have any chance at being top five at the regional meet,” he said.
On the women’s side, Lynn called the race “quality,” even though it wasn’t a typical meet.
Junior Meredith Didier was another bubble athlete who gave full effort in hopes of making it on the team’s GLIAC con­ference squad.
“I know I took my cross-training really seri­ously, so I was pre­pared,” Didier said after her first race back from a minor injury. “I was just sur­prised how fast I was going through the race, and who I was running with on my team.”
Like the men, the women’s race results don’t nec­es­sarily reflect a normal race. Still, the women  shrank their gap between first and seventh place to 1:07 at Inter­col­le­giates.
In the two weeks between the Michigan Inter­col­le­giate Cham­pi­onships and the GLIAC Cham­pi­onships, the team has been inten­si­fying its training in prepa­ration for not only the con­ference meet on Sat­urday but for the rest of cham­pi­onship season.
Lynn has high hopes for his team at the con­ference meet, and believes that the women can win and the men can place in the top four or five teams.
The meet will take place in Kens­ington Metropark in Milford, Michigan, about one and a half hours northeast of Hillsdale.