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.”