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.