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.