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Sophomore Sophia Maeda runs at Calvin College Knight Invi­ta­tional. (Calli Townsend | Col­legian)

This weekend, the Hillsdale College Chargers are looking to qualify for their seventh-con­sec­utive trip to the national meet in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­fornia. But in order to punch their ticket, they’ve got to perform well at the Midwest Regional meet in Evans­ville, Indiana this Sat­urday. 

The top four teams in each region will qualify for nationals, and some­times the fifth-place team makes it, but it depends on the strength of the region. The Midwest region has three teams ranked in the top 10 nationally, making it the strongest region, which means the Chargers will have their work cut out for them, but they’re pre­pared.

“I feel really strong going into the race. We’ve put in a lot of work this season, and I trust our training,” junior Maryssa Depies said. “We’ve backed off on mileage a bit this week, so my legs are feeling pretty fresh.” 

Sophomore Amber Mango says that while the team has backed off on their training this week, the focus is still on the national meet in a few weeks.

“We’re trying to gear up more towards nationals,” Mango said. “Our volume has come down a little bit, but not much. We haven’t really cut out some things coach White probably will cut the week leading up to nationals.” 

After their victory at the G‑MAC Cham­pi­onship meet, the Chargers jumped up to No. 9 in the national rankings and are picked to finish second to Grand Valley State Uni­versity at the regional. G‑MAC rival Walsh Uni­versity is ranked in a close third. 

The Chargers beat Walsh by three points at the con­ference cham­pi­onship, making for a highly antic­i­pated regional race this weekend.  

“Walsh is a really good team, so it’s not guar­anteed that we’ll beat them,” Depies said. “But beating them at con­ference made us feel like we can do it again.”

Mango says that with Walsh being so close, the Chargers have their eyes set on running their best race and even pushing the top-ranked Grand Valley Lakers.

“I would say at con­ference we didn’t come out with our best foot forward, so we beat Walsh when we weren’t even at our best,” Mango said. “I think we’re not looking at what’s behind us but more of what’s in front of us. So we’re looking towards Grand Valley and try to make them run the race they don’t want to run.” 

The women’s race begins at 10:30 a.m. central time.