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Southern Indiana College Ath­letics (Courtesy)

The Hillsdale College women’s cross country team will be trav­eling to Sacra­mento, Cal­i­fornia, for its seventh-con­sec­utive NCAA Division II National meet this weekend. The Chargers will be accom­panied by senior Joey Humes, who qual­ified as an indi­vidual for the men’s race. 

Twenty-four teams auto­mat­i­cally qualify for the national meet, along with 10 other teams that are selected at large. Hillsdale’s women’s cross country team was one of the 10 teams to be selected at-large, after missing the auto­matic qual­i­fying mark by one point. 

After a dis­ap­pointing fourth-place finish at the Midwest Regional, the Chargers are deter­mined to finish their season strong at nationals. They placed 19th as a team at last year’s national meet, and senior Arena Lewis is con­fident in her team’s capa­bil­ities to improve on that this year.

“I’m extremely excited. This group of girls is the closest team I’ve been on,” Lewis said. “It’s the most selfless group I’ve raced with, so if we are able to fully put that into a race, I don’t know what we will be able to do but it’ll be amazing.”

Last year, Lewis earned her first cross country All-American title and is looking to put together another solid race this year.

“I just want to run a strong race, a lot of my family will be there so it’ll be nice to have so many people at my last race,” she said. “It’s def­i­nitely going to be a fun weekend.”

Humes was one of 30 indi­vidual qual­i­fiers. He qual­ified as an indi­vidual at last year’s Midwest Regional as well, and went on to earn his first NCAA Division II All-American title by placing 25th. This season he’s improved his times in both the 8k and 10k, proving his strength and speed as he’s ready for the national stage.  

“I’m a little nervous, but I’ve been in this spot before, so I’m not as nervous as I oth­erwise would be,” Humes said. “As for my goals, I just want to put together a good race. A 10k is a long race, and it’s a loaded field, so I just want to have the best race I can, and hope­fully finish higher than I did last year.” 

The races will take place on Nov. 23 at the Arcade Creek Cross Country Course. The women will race first in a 6k at 1 p.m. eastern, fol­lowed by the men’s 10k at 2:15.