Sophomore Calli Townsend hurdles during a home indoor meet. (Todd Lan­caster | Courtesy)

Last weekend, the Hillsdale College Chargers traveled to Nashville, Ten­nessee, to take on some of the nation’s top col­le­giate talent at the Van­derbilt Black & Gold Invi­ta­tional.

As a young, promising team fresh off a strong indoor season, Hillsdale enters the outdoor season as the favorites to win the G‑MAC. The Chargers rank first in the G‑MAC pre­season coaches poll, with Walsh Uni­versity taking second and Tiffin Uni­versity taking third.

Leading the charge for Hillsdale in the 400 meter hurdles was sophomore Calli Townsend. In a deep and com­pet­itive field, Townsend fin­ished in 1 minute and 3.32 seconds, fin­ishing second in her heat and seventh overall.

“I def­i­nitely felt stronger, and I felt smoother going over the hurdles,” Townsend said. “I did some dif­ferent training for indoor with more mileage, and I think that helped.”

In light of her per­for­mance against Division I runners from schools like the Uni­ver­sities of Michigan and Ken­tucky, Townsend was named the G‑MAC women’s track Athlete of the Week. Townsend is the first in the con­ference to win the award during the outdoor season.

“It gives me a lot of con­fi­dence and excitement going forward, just to see what the rest of the season will bring,” Townsend said.

After being named the women’s track Freshman of the Meet at the G‑MAC Indoor Cham­pi­onships last month, Kajsa Johansson started her outdoor season with a per­sonal best in the 200 meter dash. Johansson fin­ished in 24.69, winning her heat and taking 15th in a field of 80.

Johansson also ran well in the 100 meter dash, fin­ishing in 12.15, just six-hun­dredths of a second off her outdoor per­sonal best.

Junior Abbie Porter also turned in a strong per­for­mance in the 400 meter dash. Her time of 56.89 was good enough to win her heat by over three seconds and finish eighth at the meet. After a strong indoor season in which Porter qual­ified for nationals in the 800-meter dash, she seems poised to con­tinue to perform at a high level.

In the field, freshman Michaela Burkhauser com­peted well in the discus, throwing 42.39 meters to finish ninth at the meet. Not only is this a per­sonal record for Burkhauser, it also stands as the fur­thest throw in the G‑MAC this season.

“We had some really great opening races this weekend and our throwers are doing really well too,” Townsend said. “It’s exciting. We’ve got a lot more pieces this year.”

The Chargers will be back in action this weekend at the Bel­larmine Invi­ta­tional in Louisville, Ken­tucky. Events begin on Friday and carry through into Sat­urday.