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The women’s cross country team camped out at Hayden Park. (Allysen Eads | Courtesy)

A team that trains together, stays together, even if that means squeezing 11 people in a tent designed for eight.  

“I love nights like those because with our team, hanging out is never forced,” senior Ally Eads said. “We are gen­uinely such a close team and we want to hang out with each other and have so much fun together.”

On Friday night, the women’s cross country team camped together under the stars as part of the Student Activ­ities Board campus camp out at Hayden Park. The team made s’mores, played vol­leyball, and watched a movie. The team bonding helped calm nerves as the Chargers prepare for the Spartan Invi­ta­tional in East Lansing, Michigan on Friday.

Last year, Hillsdale fin­ished in second place with 104 points at the Spartan Invi­ta­tional, trailing closely behind Grand Valley State University’s 93 points. Six Chargers fin­ished among the top 50 racers, out of nearly 300 total. This year, Hillsdale enters the Spartan Invi­ta­tional with one race already com­pleted, a benefit the team did not have entering last year’s com­pe­tition in East Lansing.

The Chargers will be com­peting against over 30 schools of all divi­sions, including Michigan State Uni­versity. Hillsdale fin­ished second to MSU in the Jeff Drenth Memorial, the season’s first meet. The Chargers will be running a 6k through the Forest Akers East Golf Course, which will be more of a chal­lenge com­pared to last meet’s 5k race. The team is feeling pre­pared with already having com­peted this season, however.

“I’m guessing that MSU will be a lot better than in past years,” Eads said. “Based on workouts this past week, I’ve seen so much improvement since camp already from a lot of the younger girls and even the upper­classmen.”

Freshman Sophia Maeda said she is a bit nervous for her first 6k race, but is excited to try some­thing new.

“It’s mainly just getting us ready for the big meets,” Maeda said. “The goal is always focused on the meets at the end of the season when it counts.” 

Maeda was one of four runners to achieve per­sonal best times in the season’s first meet. Sophomore Lauren Peterson also earned a per­sonal best and is looking forward to seeing greater headway. 

Peterson’s freshman season was cut short due to sickness. The Spartan Invi­ta­tional was her only race of the cross country season last year, so she said she is feeling very excited for this Friday.

“This year, I’ve just been eating better and going to bed earlier to stay healthy, things that I’m now able to do because I’ve learned to manage my time better,” Peterson said. “I think I’m much better adjusted now and ready to take on the season with the team.”

The team hopes to keep the momentum going and advance  its progress. 

“We’ll con­tinue with that same con­fi­dence and excitement,” Eads said. “We’ll work together to see pos­itive results once again.”