With four new personal best times, the Hillsdale College Chargers began their 2019 cross country season with a win at Calvin College’s Knight Invitational on Saturday. The victory and quick times left the Chargers feeling optimistic about the season up ahead.
Sophomore Sophia Maeda broke her own personal record of 25 minutes, 23.8 seconds en route to a third-place finish with a time of 22:03.8. She also earned the G‑MAC Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week award for the first time.
“It felt really good after a very hard year last year,” she said. “It was fun to run, even with a couple people down. So it’ll be even better when everybody’s here.”
Only six Chargers ran in Saturday’s meet, with 2018 All-Conference runners like junior Maryssa Depies and senior Arena Lewis sitting out, but they’ll be back later in the season.
Christina Sawyer opened up her junior season faster than she ever has before, placing 10th in 22:20.8. Not far behind her was freshman Meg Scheske, whose debut on the longer college cross country course was a smooth transition. She finished in 22:38.47 to take 15th.
Sophomore Claire McNally also replaced her own personal record of 24:31.0 with a shiny new PR of 22:48.6. She finished in 22nd.
Seniors Addison Rauch and Kate Vanderstelt had a great start to their final seasons as well. Vanderstelt earned a new personal best and Rauch ran her fastest time since her sophomore year.
“Coach told us very specifically, ‘Through halfway don’t go crazy, don’t let the emotions get the best of you because you can be jittery with the first race and just want to go out and hammer it,’” Rauch said. “I worked together with Kate really well. We were like, ‘We’re just gonna hang out here and not go crazy.’”
The two executed their race plans well and came in 43rd and 55th overall. Rauch finished in 23:18.88 and Vanderstelt in 23:28.54.
“It was a really good start to the year. I think it was a really good confidence boost, not only for me, but for everyone,” she said. “Yeah this is a fast course, but we also ran exactly how [coach] told us to and our strategy worked out perfectly.”
Assistant coach Richard White agreed with Rauch, saying he was pleased with the way the girls raced.
“They did an awesome job with it. We talked about trying to be relaxed and stay comfortable the first part of the race and they didn’t put themselves in a bad position,” he said. “PRs for me in cross country don’t mean a whole lot. I’m really happy that sometimes the times can reflect your development, but I was just more happy with how they competed and how confident they were.”
While these six Chargers take this weekend off, another group will compete this Saturday in Tiffin, Ohio, for the Tiffleberg Invitational. The race begins at 11 a.m. on the Clinton Heights Golf Course.