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Sophomore Allysen Eads took sixth in the 3000 steeple­chase at Ohio State. (Photo: Todd Lan­caster / Courtesy)

This weekend, the Hillsdale College women’s track and field team com­peted at the 2017 Jesse Owens Uni­versity Classic at Ohio State Uni­versity and the GVSU Al Owens Open. The weekend was mostly about getting ready for the Gina Relays which the Chargers will host this weekend as the biggest meet in Hillsdale history.

“Right now, as a full team, we are happy with where things are,” dis­tance coach Samantha Kearney said. “We call Gina’s week ‘the first part phase of cham­pi­onship season.’”

At Ohio State, sophomore Allysen Eads took sixth in the 3000-meter steeple­chase. Running a 10:46.02 — her season best and not far from her per­sonal record. This pro­vi­sional per­for­mance put Eads on the national list and ranks her 24th in the country.

The 4x400 team of senior Allison Duber, juniors Tori Wichman and Ashlee Moran, and freshman Lorina Clemence took fourth. The team met the pro­vi­sional standard, running a 3:48.52, and is ranked 16th nationally.

Junior Alex Whitford again met the pro­vi­sional standard in the pole vault with her jump of 12 feet, 2.75 inches. She is now ranked third nationally.

Senior Molly Oren and junior Hannah McIntyre both met the pro­vi­sional standard in the 1500 at the GVSU Al Owens Open. The duo took third and fourth respec­tively. Oren ran a 4:31.17 and McIntyre was close behind with a 4:31.59, both per­sonal bests. They are ranked 25th and 28th in the event nationally though neither of them plan on running it again in the future.

“I hadn’t run the 1500 since freshman year so I just went in with the goal of sticking with Hannah,” Oren said. “It was really fun to race with her.” 

Because Oren’s main event is the 3000 steeple­chase, running the 1500 this weekend was just for training pur­poses. She will be running her event of choice at the Gina Relays with her sister, Emily Oren, and Allysen Eads. The Orens are seeded in the top two for the meet this weekend. Molly Oren is excited to run with her sister again and be pushed by her com­pe­tition.

“Steeple is really fast this year at the national level,” Oren said. “Seven people have [met the auto­matic standard,] which is a lot more than normal. So, orig­i­nally, I was going to run a 5k at Gina’s, but since it’s really fast, I wanted to get another steeple under my belt. This meet is just to remember how to run steeple again and hope­fully run a faster time to practice for GLIACs and nationals.”

Oren’s goal is to ulti­mately win steeple at nationals as this is her last season.

McIntyre said of the race, “It was really fun. It was the last race that Molly and I are ever going to get to run together which is kind of a big deal because we’ve been running together for my entire time here. In that way it was special but it just went well — my strength is the middle of the race and Molly just has a great kick, so it just played out nicely.”

McIntyre explained the training strategy for the dis­tance squad.

“With dis­tance events, it does make a dif­ference how you train for the week if you don’t race,” she said. “To pop off a great 5k at the end of the season it helps to have had at least a couple weeks that were just training-heavy and you really can’t do that when you’re racing every weekend.”

McIntyre will be running her race of choice — the 5k — this weekend. She said she plans to run the race without a spe­cific goal in mind for nationals.

The Chargers will use the Gina Relays to prepare for nationals and build con­fi­dence for the ath­letes who are already qual­ified for the national meet. Others who are right on the cusp will take advantage of getting expe­rience in high level com­pe­tition, Kearney said. 

“Indoor was a good learning expe­rience as a whole for some of our women, espe­cially seeing girls like Duber make it in an indi­vidual event for the first time,” Kearney said. “We’re excited to see people learning from the indoor expe­rience at nationals and improving upon that for out­doors — espe­cially for the women’s DMR. They were able to really gain con­fi­dence from indoors. being the last one in but still All-American — an underdog kind of feeling.”