Megan Poole, left, and Natalie Mar­tinson, right, run during the Tiffelberg Invi­ta­tional in Tiffin, Ohio, on Sat­urday. The Chargers fin­ished first among five schools at the meet. calli townsend | colleigan

The Hillsdale College Chargers broke into the top 10 in the national rankings on Wednesday. Pre­vi­ously ranked No. 11, they’re now sitting in ninth place, four spots ahead of con­ference rival, Walsh Uni­versity.

They are cutting back on the amount of meets they run this year to allow more time for rest and recovery, but the Chargers are making the most of each race. Their team has won the first two meets of the season after the latest victory at the Tiffelberg Invi­ta­tional on Sat­urday. 

They ran at the Hedges Boyer Park in Tiffin, Ohio, where they fin­ished with a near-perfect score of 22 points, while Hei­delberg Uni­versity came in second with 66 points, and Tiffin Uni­versity was third with 76 points. 

Leading the pack for much of the race was senior Arena Lewis, who crossed the line first in 22 minutes and 51.5 seconds. Lewis stayed behind the lead runner for the first couple of miles, but then powered up a hill to pass her and from there the race was hers. 

Junior Christina Sawyer came in next for Hillsdale. She ran the majority of the race as a pace setter for her team­mates, then fin­ished strong on her own. Sawyer came in fifth overall in 23:53.1. 

Freshman Gwynne Riley made her debut in Charger blue alongside her junior teammate, Lauren Peterson. The pair fin­ished ninth and 10th, fin­ishing in 24:23.5 and 24:29.2, respec­tively. 

“I was really nervous going into it, but I was glad to have my team­mates to pace with and work with them and towards the end it was nice to have them for encour­agement,” Riley said. “I feel a lot better about it now with one done. I really had no clue what my time was going to be so it was a good learning expe­rience.” 

With a new per­sonal best time, sophomore Amber Mango kicked off her season with a 13th-place finish in 24:39.6, which beats her pre­vious record by 30 seconds. 

“I’m really proud of how the whole team approached the race with con­fi­dence and a plan. We started the race a bit con­ser­v­ative and then really started com­peting the second half,” Mango said. “I’m excited to see what this season will hold. We have some impressive talent, lots of depth, and most impor­tantly, a cohesive unit that makes running for this team feel like a part­nership.”

To finish up the race, junior Megan Poole and freshman Natalie Mar­tinson crossed the line nearly in sync to take 15th and 16th overall. Poole, who was recov­ering from sickness, fin­ished in 24:59.2 and Mar­tinson came in at 25:00.7. 

With Cham­pi­onship season quickly approaching, the team is feeling con­fident and is ready to compete.

“Ninth in the nation is a little under­rated in my opinion,” Mango said with a laugh.

Last season Walsh beat the Chargers at the con­ference meet, but then beat the Cav­a­liers at the regional meet. Walsh beat Hillsdale at Nationals, so now it’s the Chargers turn to take the lead. 

The Chargers will take a break for the next couple of weeks as they prepare for their next pair of meets in early October. They will split up for the Lansing Com­munity College Invi­ta­tional in Lansing, Michigan, and the Joe Paine Invi­ta­tional in South Bend, Indiana.