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Junior Tony Wondaal goes head to head against a GVSU runner at the GLIAC Cham­pi­onship last weekend. Wondaal placed 15th overall. (Photo: Evan Carter / Hillsdale Col­legian)

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — The Hillsdale College men’s and women’s cross-country teams fin­ished their final GLIAC com­pe­tition on a high note this past Sat­urday — both teams coming in third.

This was the team’s last season com­peting in the GLIAC Cham­pi­onship because Hillsdale is joining the Great Midwest Ath­letic Con­ference (GMAC) on July 1, 2017. Though both teams placed third overall, a number of key runners run didn’t run strong races, leaving both squads excited to put on their best per­for­mance at the regional meet on Nov. 5.

Several Chargers did, however, put up impressive per­for­mances to help their teams reach the podium. Junior Hannah McIntyre fin­ished second overall in the women’s race, senior captain Joe Newcomb fin­ished eighth in the men’s race. And, after freshman Joe Humes’ ran to a 28th-place finish, he was named GLIAC Freshman of the Year.

Head Dis­tance Coach Samantha Kearney called the team’s per­for­mances “in between,” but still found pos­i­tives in both the men’s and women’s races.

“There were some great spots on the women’s side — Hannah McIntyre looked really strong today — and then we had some not great spots where we have to go back to the drawing board and fix moving forward,” Kearney said. “On the guys’ side it was def­i­nitely a grind. It was a battle. Not our best day, but we were eighth last year, we were third this year.”

The women’s third place finish is one back from their second place finish last season. This season, Hillsdale fin­ished behind regional com­petitors Grand Valley State Uni­versity and Northern Michigan Uni­versity.

In addition to McIntyre’s second place finish, senior Molly Oren placed fourth, and sophomore Ally Eads placed 21st, giving the team three All-GLIAC fin­ishers. The race also fea­tured strong fin­ishes by senior Meri Didier, junior Amanda Reagle, and freshman Addison Rauch, who all fin­ished within 10 spots of Eads.

McIntyre called Oren one of the “toughest runners she’s ever run with,” saying she placed fourth at the meet after feeling sick all week. Overall, McIntyre said she and her team­mates had a good day.

“I’ve beat all the girls I beat today before, so I knew I could just do it again and I felt in control,” McIntyre said. “I think some team­mates wanted to do better in terms of getting All-Con­ference, but some­times it’s there and some­times it’s not. I think it was a great day. The freshman espe­cially looked good.”

The women’s team is now ranked 11th nationally and fifth in the Midwest Regional in the latest national coaches poll.

The men showed major improvement over their GLIAC per­for­mance the pre­vious year, placing third, up from the pre­vious year’s eighth place team finish. The men’s finish also bodes well for regional com­pe­tition, with many of the GLIAC teams they com­peted against last Sat­urday also running in the Midwest Regional.

The men had two All-Con­ference fin­ishers: Newcomb placed eighth and junior Tony Wondaal fin­ished 15th. The men’s top five was rounded out by Senior Caleb Gatchell, Humes, and junior Nathan Jones placing third, fourth, and fifth on the team respec­tively.

Newcomb said the day’s per­for­mances high­light how far the team has come.

“We still have a lot of work to do. I wouldn’t say that’s our best as a whole all year, so I think running what we think is mediocre as a team and still doing well is some­thing to say about how good our team really is,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb said he thinks it was his best race of the season.

“I think it’s probably the first time I put the whole entire race together in terms of being tough, so I felt pretty good, felt ready for regionals,” Newcomb said.

The men’s team is now ranked 17th nationally and fourth in the Midwest Regional in the latest national coaches poll.

Looking forward to the next week-and-a-half of training before the regional com­pe­tition, Kearney said the team will be focusing on fine-tuning their workouts and recov­ering, making sure the ath­letes are ready to have their best race of the season at Evans­ville.

Newcomb said at this point in the season, the team just needs to have a good race.

“Obvi­ously we want to make it to nationals,” Newcomb said. “We have to hold where we are in our rankings and prove it on race day.”