Nice weather, tough competition, and a flat course is just what the Hillsdale College Chargers needed to feel fast and improve their times, and that’s just what they found on Saturday at the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville, Kentucky.
Hillsdale competed in the Gold Division 5 kilometer race, which consisted of more than 200 runners, making up 26 highly competitive teams. The Chargers were one of only three teams that weren’t Division I, and they managed to beat the other two, taking home 12th place.
Sophomore Maryssa Depies led the way for the Chargers, crossing the finish line in 40th place.
“It was such a great experience to race in a larger field of very talented runners,” she said. “It was eye-opening to realize that a personal best time still put me in 40th place.”
Her new personal best time of 17 minutes and 49.1 seconds beats her previous time of 18:04.0. Depies set that record early into her senior year of high school and has been anxious to shave the seconds off. This race allowed the perfect conditions for her to do so.
“The race went out really fast,” she said. “It was hard to get into a good position after the gun went off, so I spent the majority of the race trying to get around people. I was really happy with how everything went though.”
Not far behind Depies was junior teammate Arena Lewis. With a seasonal best time of 17:57.3, Lewis finished the race in 46th place.
“It was only a few seconds off my high school personal record,” Lewis said of her race. “Afterwards I knew I could’ve gone faster, so I was disappointed but it’s nice to feel fit and know I can go faster.”
Sophomore Christina Sawyer finished next in 18:18.5. Senior Ally Eads was the fourth Charger to cross the finish line in 18:33.1.
The rest of the team finished strong together in a pack of five, leaving only an 18-second gap between the fifth runner and the ninth, which showcases great strength and depth.
“The team is also coming along really well,” Lewis said. “Lauren and Megan ran amazing [personal records] and we’re getting some really nice depth to the team which is exciting.”
Sophomore Lauren Peterson led this pack, finishing 139th overall in 19:09.8.
Sophomore Megan Poole, freshman Amber Mango and junior Kate Vanderstelt followed closely behind in 19:14.6, 19:15.3 and 19:16.6, respectively. Closing out the pack was freshman Claire McNally with a time of 19:27.5.
“I was really hoping to break into the eighteen’s on Saturday, but I’m still really happy with how close I got,” Poole said. “This might have been the fastest course of our season, but I’m excited to see if I can reach that time on a more difficult course.”
The Chargers can consider this meet a success, totalling four new personal records and three seasonal-best times. These improvements, however, did not leave the team satisfied.
“Being aggressive last weekend sets us up to be prepared for any style of race that is thrown at is once Championship season begins,” assistant coach R.P. White said.
The team will have another chance to compete on its home course this Saturday in Hayden Park at 11 a.m. Coach White called this a “trial run” as the team is undergoing its more intense training as in preparation for the upcoming championships.
“I’m excited where we’re at as a team,” White said. “But I’m even more excited because I know the best is yet to come.”