Sophomore Calli Townsend hurdles during Hills­dale’s 2019 Wide Track Classic. (Todd Lan­caster | Courtesy)

The Hillsdale College Track and Field teams will kick off their 2019 – 2020 indoor track season with the Holiday Opener at Grand Valley State Uni­versity this Friday, Dec. 6. 

Andrew Towne will be returning this season for his fifth year as head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams. He said they are pre­pared and moti­vated for the first meet of the season. 

“The first meet is really a chance for all the kids to have their first oppor­tunity to show us what they can do,” he said “They’ve been training all summer and fall for this.” 

The Chargers have expe­ri­enced incredible success over the past few seasons, and look to build upon that success and have the young members of the team play a larger role. 

“Last year was a good year in a lot of ways, espe­cially in terms of re-estab­lishing a culture,” Towne said. “I think the freshman class can really add to that.” 

The women’s team will return senior sprinter Abbie Porter who com­peted at the NCAA Division II Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Cham­pi­onships last season, as well as junior Kajsa Johansson who holds the school record in both the 100m and 200m dash, and joined Porter at the Outdoor Nationals last year.

In the field, sophomore Nakita Maines returns this season as the school record holder in the shot put. She’s accom­panied by sophomore thrower Micheala Burkhauser, senior pole vaulter Kathryn Bas­sette, and many other running, throwing, and jumping pow­er­houses. 

“I am really excited about this year as we have a lot of talent on the team returning from last year as well as a great freshman class,” Porter said.

On the women’s side, the Chargers gained a tal­ented class of 10 freshmen. For the men, they added nine freshmen to the program. 

The men will return big point scorers like senior sprinter/hurdler Ian Brown, sophomore pole vaulter Ben Raffin, and multi-event athlete, John Baldwin. 

“The attitude and mental strength of the team is much improved from pre­vious years,” Brown said. “We are looking forward to a very promising season after after a strong off-season of con­di­tioning.”

Towne said he hopes to carry the momentum from the recent cross country season over to the indoor track. 

“Coming off of cross country, our women’s dis­tance crew is really strong. Our women’s sprint and hurdles crew is also very strong, but young,” Towne said. “And for the men, I would say there’s not one group that par­tic­u­larly sticks out from another. They are all bal­anced and pretty similar.” 

Towne said the team will vote on team cap­tains for both the men’s and women’s teams fol­lowing Friday’s meet. 

“I am looking forward to our first meet as it is the first time we can show how hard our team has been working this fall,” Porter said, it can be tough to stay focused in Sep­tember when the meet is months away, but this has been the moti­vated team I have been on at Hillsdale.” 

This weekend the team will focus mainly on sprints and field events as the dis­tance runners recover from their recent cross country season.

The meet begins with field events at 2:45 p.m.