The men’s and women’s cross country teams pose for a photo during their cross country camp this summer at Rockwell Lake Lodge. r.p. white | courtesy

The Hillsdale College Chargers are ready to put their summer miles into action this Sat­urday as they compete in their season-opener race. Calvin College is hosting the Knight Invi­ta­tional, a new meet on the schedule, as Hillsdale typ­i­cally begins its season at the Spartan Invi­ta­tional at Michigan State Uni­versity. The Chargers will also be starting their season a week later than last year.

“I think it’ll be good. I like that we’re starting later because it gives us a little more time to train in the summer,” junior Christina Sawyer said. “All but one of our meets this year are at new courses.” 

The Chargers only grad­uated one senior, Ally Eads, last year and are bringing in three freshmen: Meg Scheske, Natalie Mar­tinson, Gynee Riley. Scheske was a three-time Michigan DII All-State runner during her high school career. 

Junior Maryssa Depies and senior Arena Lewis are returning to the squad as First-Team All-Con­ference runners, and Sawyer is coming back as a Second-Team All-Con­ference award winner. Not to mention juniors Lauren Peterson and Megan Poole, who are expected to con­tinue to improve upon their out­standing breakout seasons from last year. 

Sophomore Sophia Maeda said she’s feeling con­fident about this season. After bat­tling a series of injuries and ill­nesses last year, she had a great summer of training and is looking forward to being fast and healthy. 

“Cross camp was won­derful. We’re gonna have a good team this year,” she said. “We have a lot of depth. Maryssa’s going to be a beast, Arena’s coming off a couple injuries but she’ll be great. It’s gonna be a good year.” 

Head coach Andrew Towne said he’s excited to get the season underway.

“We had a really good camp. We have some really good returning expe­rience and really tal­ented new­comers,” he said.

In the 2019 Pre­season G‑MAC Coaches poll, Hillsdale is expected to repeat as runner-up to Walsh Uni­versity in the con­ference. The Chargers placed second to Walsh at the con­ference meet in 2018, but then beat the Cav­a­liers at the regional meet en route to qual­i­fying for the NCAA DII Cham­pi­onship as a team for the sixth con­sec­utive year.