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The Hillsdale women’s cross country team runs at the Slippery Rock Uni­versity Pre-National meet earlier this season. Slippery Rock Uni­versity | courtesy

Last year the Hillsdale College Chargers were the G-MAC cross country cham­pions, beating Walsh Uni­versity 32 – 51. Malone Uni­versity fin­ished third with 71 points. This year, the same three teams are in the running for the victory, while Walsh is favored to win.

“I’ve never been one to put much stock in rankings,” head coach Andrew Towne said. “I think Walsh is a quality team and I’m looking forward to the G-MAC cham­pi­onships and beyond.”

The Chargers will be trav­eling to Canton, Ohio to compete in the 2018 G-MAC cross country Cham­pi­onships on Sat­urday.

Walsh beat Hillsdale at the Pre-National meet Oct. 20, but the Chargers didn’t have junior Arena Lewis, and junior Addison Rauch and freshman Sophia Maeda were running for the first time in a while due to injuries.

“I feel really con­fident that with Arena back and the energy we have right now,” sophomore Lauren Peterson said.”I feel like a lot of really cool things are going to happen.”

Both Walsh and Hillsdale have lost key runners this season, so the winning team will be the one with the greatest depth.

“We lost our Hannah [McIntyre] and they lost their Sarah Berger,” Peterson said. “Both teams have the respon­si­bility of making up for losing their All-American. It’s more of a com­pe­tition between our whole teams and not just our best girls.”

The lone senior, Ally Eads, is looking forward to Sat­urday with con­fi­dence.

“We’ve had some really good workouts,” she said. “The team in general has been really strong, phys­i­cally and men­tally.”

Eads says the con­clusion of her cross country career hasn’t fully hit her yet, as she still has two seasons of track to compete in.

“It’s been a good four years,” she said. “I’ll miss the team aspect of cross and racing is always fun when you’re all in the same race at the same time.”

The regional meet will be next for the Chargers on Nov. 17, but for now they will just focus on the task at hand: defending their con­ference cham­pi­onship.

“It will be very inter­esting to see,” Peterson said. “It’s def­i­nitely us and Walsh that are butting heads.”