Junior Tori Wichman (pic­tured) teamed up with freshman Lorina Clemence, junior Ashlee Moran, and senior Allison Duber for the 4x400 relay, running their season best this weekend in Boston. (Photo: Matt Kendrick / Hillsdale Col­legian)

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 4x400 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 4x400 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.