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Tanner Schwannecke placed first in the 800-meter race at the GLIAC championship meet. (Photo: Evan Carter / Hillsdale Collegian)

In it’s final GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Hillsdale Chargers gave quite the farewell.

Coming out of this weekend, Hillsdale will send 10 athletes to the national championships.

“As a whole, it was a really good last indoor GLIAC championship. Everyone performed really well and gave their best effort,” assistant coach Samantha Kearney said.

On the women’s side, the Chargers put up 18 provisional performances, placing second overall. The men’s squad took fourth overall, earning 13 provisional marks. 

Senior Molly Oren won the 3,000 meter, running her personal best of 9:36.45, earning the No. 8 spot on the national list, ensuring her fourth trip to the national meet. 

“I felt really strong in both races and really confident,” Oren said. “I didn’t expect to win it, but I just felt really good and the pace wasn’t too hard.” 

With top runners like Emily Oren graduated, Molly Oren said she and her peers have had to step up this year and make things happen for themselves.

“I feel fine doing the 3K and DMR double,” Oren said. “I did it last year and this year I feel like I’m better suited to do it because I did it at GLIACs and I’m more confident in it.”

Oren, a three-time All-American, aspires to be All-American in both events at the national meet.

Junior Hannah McIntyre came in second with her time of 9:41.20. McIntyre is ranked fifth in the event nationally.

McIntyre was also the GLIAC champion in the 5,000 and hit the provisional standard for that event, as well. She ran her season best time of 16:45.67, and is ranked sixth nationally for the event. The three-time All-American will head back to the national meet to compete in the 3000, 5000, and distance medley relay.

Junior Tori Wichman placed second in the 200 with her time of 25.12 seconds. Junior Ashlee Moran placed fourth, running her season best of 25.32. Both hit the provisional mark for the event.

Senior captain Allison Duber placed third in the 400 with a season-best performance of 56.56. Duber and Wichman will both head to nationals in the event. In the 800, junior Hannah Watts ran a provisional time of 2:16.44, placing eighth.

In the women’s mile, Hillsdale earned three provisional marks. Sophomore Allyson Eads came in fourth with her time of 5:00.98, freshman Arena Lewis placed fifth, running 5:01.05, and junior Amanda Reagle finished eighth with a 5:03.68 performance.

Eads, Watts, Oren, and freshman Lorina Clemence teamed up for the distance medley relay. The Chargers took third with their provisional time of 11:52.30, which qualifies them for the national meet. 

The women’s 4×400 relay placed second with a season-best time of 3:51.35. The squad, comprised of Wichman, Duber, Moran, and junior Fiona Shea, are ranked 20th nationally.

In the pole vault, senior Alex Whitford took second and will head to the national meet ranked ninth.

Hillsdale’s two All-American weight throwers contributed two more provisional marks. Senior Dana Newell placed sixth overall with a throw of 60 feet, 8.75 inches, and is ranked 11th nationally. Junior Rachael Tolsma took eighth with her throw of 60 feet, 5.25 inches. Tolsma is ranked 17th going into the national meet.

The men’s team scored 82 points, earning fourth place overall. 

Sophomore Tanner Schwannecke was the GLIAC champion in the 800 with his time of 1:55.03. Schwannecke is ranked 19th in the nation. Junior Nathan Jones came in seventh. 

In the 60-meter dash, senior Todd Frickey — who is ranked 16th nationally — took fifth with a time of 6.88.

In the men’s 400, junior Colby Clark placed sixth, hitting the provisional standard with his time of 49.19. 

In the men’s mile, senior Caleb Gatchell won with his time of 4:14.11 and freshman Joseph Humes took second his time of 4:15.24. Gatchell will run at the national meet ranked 19th.

“It felt really good,” Gatchell said. “I knew on paper I was the favorite, but mile races at conference are really weird. We tend to go out really slow and close hard. So I just had to be ready for that                                                                                    and put myself in a place to make a move the second half of the race and making sure that no one else would get around me. Thankfully I was able to hold everyone off.”

Gatchell has earned two All-American titles and is well-acquainted with the meet.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” Gatchell explained. “You just have to approach it as another opportunity, but you have to be ready to hurt and race hard.”

The distance medley relay — run by Gatchell, Eldredge, Schwannecke, and freshman Nick Fiene — took first in the GLIAC. Their season-best time of 10:00.63 earned them the No. 18 national ranking, but will not go to the national meet.

The men’s 4×400 relay of freshman Nate Eldredge, junior Lane White, Clark, and senior Ty Etchemendy placed third with a time of 3:18.27, meeting the provisional standard. They are ranked 19th nationally.

Junior Jared Schipper became GLIAC champion in the pole vault. He vaulted his season best and provisional height of 16 feet, 10 inches. Schipper sits comfortably in the No. 7 spot going into nationals and has been working his way out of a slump in the past couple meets.

“It finally felt like I figured out what I was doing wrong and fixed it,” Schipper said. “I was doing bad all season because I was trying to get on the wrong poles and it finally made sense to me.”

Schipper expressed how strong of a year this is for the event, since his best height this season would have been ranked second in previous years.

“I’m a little bit more relaxed. I feel a little less pressure,” Schipper said. “This year, I’m ready to just have fun.”

In the jumps, freshman Merrick Canada took eighth in the long jump with his jump of 22 feet, 4.5 inches — his personal best. In the triple jump, Etchemendy placed fifth and met the provisional standard with his jump of 47 feet, 5.25 inches.

Junior David Chase competed in the men’s heptathlon and placed fourth overall after earning 4734 points in the multiple events, also meeting the provisional standard.

Now that the GLIAC conference meet is over, ten athletes will train for nationals. The meet will be hosted in Birmingham, Alabama, March 9-11. However, training will not change for the individuals as the goal has consistently been to peak during championship season. Now the priority is recovery, maintenance, and mental readiness. The GLIAC meet was just a rehearsal for nationals, Kearney said.

Hillsdale track and field has recently cultivated a tradition of placing in the top three at the NCAA Division II national meet. On the women’s side, Hillsdale earned national runner-up the past two seasons. 

“Our goals are never different — we’re always going to try to be excellent, always going to do our best,” Kearney said. “Even when we were runner-up, we never talked about a title or the podium or anything like that, we just talked about performing to our best ability. That is our expectation. If we are performing our best and doing everything we can, then we are going to do well. Trophies and all that stuff will come with it.”