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.