Hillsdale College track and field traveled to both Grand Valley State University for the annual Big Meet and Boston University for the David Hemery Valentine Invitational. The weekend resulted in 13 provisional standard performances, one automatic mark, and a broken school record.
At Grand Valley, senior Dana Newell placed second and met the provisional standard for the event with a new personal record of 61 feet, four inches. This performance moved Newell up a spot on the national list, and she is now ranked 10th. Junior Rachael Tolsma took fourth, throwing 59 feet, 9.5 inches. She also met the provisional standard, and is ranked 13th.
In Boston, the Chargers met 11 provisional standards as well as one automatic standard that guarantees a spot at the national meet.
The Chargers travel to Boston only when the national meet is hosted on a banked track. This year, the NCAA Division II national meet will be held in Birmingham, AL.
“The Boston meet is good in that it has a very fast banked track and so not only can you qualify and put yourself in a good position for NCAAs, but you also gain an experience,” head coach Andrew Towne said. “In a year where NCAAs is on a really fast banked track, I think the more you can be prepared for that, the better.”
The competition in Boston was comprised of all of the northeast for all divisions and some outside teams from the south as well.
Sophomore Allyson Eads hit the provisional mark in the women’s mile with her personal best of 5:00.17, and is ranked 37th on the national list.
Junior Hannah McIntyre placed ninth overall in the 3,000 meter and met the automatic standard for the event. The automatic mark is 9:30.44 and ensures a spot at the national meet. McIntyre ran a personal best of 9:28.88 to secure her race at nationals. She is currently ranked fifth in the nation.
“The NCAA committee sets the automatic standard to where very few people can reach it and so in general very few people hit it per event,” Towne said.
This was McIntyre’s first 3,000-meter race of the season, and she had initially hoped to run a 9:40 going into the weekend.
“I wasn’t expecting to run that fast, but it was a really good race. There was a lot of amazing talent,” McIntyre said. “It was good competition and that just carried me.”
McIntyre is a three-time All-American from the 2016 season alone — once in the 3,000 meter.
“Nationals is just a totally different meet, and so you can never go into it with the mindset of, ‘Oh it’s in the bag,’ because those races are pretty fierce. They’re aggressive. They’re fast,” McIntyre said. “In each race, there’s at least 10 girls who are really capable of being All-American, or top eight. You still have to do the work.”
McIntyre’s tentative goal going into this national meet is to place in the top five, but she’s anticipating reevaluating her mindset.
So far only five athletes have reached the automatic standard for the 3,000-meter race.
Senior Molly Oren also ran the 3,000 meter with her season best of 9:47.74 — meeting the provisional standard and earning the No. 22 spot on the national list.
The relays sent to Boston both performed well, moving up on the national list.
The 4×400 relay of freshman Lorina Clemence, juniors Tori Wichman and Ashlee Moran, and senior Allison Duber placed sixth, running their season best of 3:48.36, placing themselves 12th in the nation. The relay has won All-American titles each of the past two years.
Towne said two of the athletes had been sick and the relay could have easily run two or three seconds faster. Towne said the team’s 3:48 time is on the border of getting into nationals.
“To be in that kind of spot two weeks out from the end of your qualifying period is a pretty good sign,” Towne said.
The distance medley relay — former indoor national champions — ran a time of 11:42.60, placing second. Oren, Duber, McIntyre, and junior Hannah Watts are now ranked ninth nationally.
In the pole vault, senior Alex Whitford, once again, met the provisional standard, vaulting 11 feet, 11.75 inches. Whitford is currently ranked sixth on the national list.
The weekend resulted in six provisional marks and a broken school record for the men in Boston.
In the 800 meter, sophomore Tanner Schwannecke met the provisional standard for the third time with a 1:53.50 time. Schwannecke is ranked 38th on the national list for the event.
Senior Caleb Gatchell broke the school record in the men’s mile this weekend with his performance of 4:06.31 at Boston, which also earned him the 14th spot on the national list.
“I was hoping to run a little faster at this meet at the beginning of the year, but it wasn’t my best day, so it was kind of just a relief to see that I got [the record],” Gatchell said.
Gatchell credits his success in this race to the consistency of four years of good coaching and training.
“The key to success at any point is consistency and I thankfully have had four years of consistency,” he said. “So I think even on a day where I’m not feeling my best that strength still gets me places.”
Though Gatchell has two All-American titles under his belt, he expressed relief in qualifying for the national meet before conference. Now his focus has shifted to qualifying in the distance medley relay.
In the 5,000 meter, senior Joe Newcomb ran his best time of the season — 14:42.10 — and also met the provisional standard for the national meet. Newcomb is now ranked 33rd on the national list.
The men’s 4×400 relay run by senior Ty Etchemendy, juniors Lane White and Colby Clark, and freshman Nate Eldridge placed fourth overall with a time of 3:14.89. They are currently ranked 14th in the nation with this provisional time.
Junior Jared Schipper placed fifth in the pole vault clearing 16 feet, .75 inches. Again meeting the provisional standard of 15 feet, 3.47 inches, Schipper is ranked No. 11 on the national list.
Etchemendy also met the provisional standard for the triple jump, placing seventh overall. An All-American in the event his freshman year, Etchemendy jumped 47 feet, 10.5 inches this weekend and is ranked 27th nationally.
This weekend is the annual Tune-Up Meet hosted at the Margot V. Biermann Center on Hillsdale’s campus.
“This meet is designed to be what it says it is, a tune-up, if you need it,” Towne said.
The track and field athletes very deliberately train and taper so that their peak performance is at the GLIAC conference meet that is in two weeks.
“We’re not where we need to be, but we’re headed in the right direction and we’re close,” Towne said.