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 4×400 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.”