The Hillsdale College track and field team will travel to Tiffin, OH for its first meet of the season on Dec. 4 (Courtesy | Hillsdale College Athletics)

To end their indoor season, six qual­i­fying Hillsdale track and field ath­letes will compete in the NCAA Division II National Cham­pi­onship on March 11 – 13 in Birm­ingham, Alabama.

Senior Kajsa Johnasson will race in the 60 and 200 meter dashes before joining her team­mates junior Alanna O’Leary, freshman Shura Ermakov, and sophomore Dakota Stamm in the 4x400m relay. 

“I’m really con­fident going into nationals,” Johannson said. “I’m in a good place in terms of all the rankings.” 

Johannson ran 7.58 seconds in the 60 meter dash at the Hillsdale Tune-Up meet and 24.16 seconds in the 200 meter dash at the G‑MAC Con­ference Cham­pi­onship, earning her the trip to the national meet. 

“This is the biggest group I’ve expe­ri­enced going to nationals with here at Hillsdale, which is really fun,” Johansson said. “The goal is to get more people there, so I’m excited.”

The track and field team brought her solid com­munity at Hillsdale as a freshman, Johansson said. 

“Getting to grow with those people has been cool,” Johnasson said. “Seeing all the younger kids come in every year has been really fun as well.”

Junior Ben Raffin will compete in the pole vault at Nationals after qual­i­fying with a mark of 5.01 meters at the G‑MAC championship.

“I feel excited. I’m not going to change any­thing in my prepa­ration, really,” Raffin said. “It’s going to be inter­esting because of COVID and all that, so I’m probably going to get tested a lot. But other than that, I’m feeling good, and I’m healthy, and I’m ready to compete.”

Raffin has been com­peting in the pole vault since his freshman year of high school and said it’s been his best event so far. He became more com­pet­itive in the event during his junior and senior years of high school and was a 16-foot jumper his freshman year.

“My growth has been expo­nential so far,” Raffin said. “I don’t plan on changing any­thing, just getting faster and stronger, but also I have a good team culture there at Hillsdale. I have a good path to grow.” 

Com­peting in the shot put, junior Nikita Maines qual­ified for nationals when she threw a mark of 14.77 meters at the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic. 

“I’m just trying to go in very open minded and just really give it my all,” Maines said. “I haven’t ever com­peted in a sit­u­ation like this so I’m just going to go out there, have fun and throw my heart out, and we’ll see where I end up.”

Com­peting since her freshman year at Hillsdale, Maines made indoor nationals her sophomore year but couldn’t compete due to COVID-19-related cancellations. 

“I just feel really grateful,” Maines said. “I think a lot of people don’t really see how our school is dif­ferent from other schools, or our division, because some schools can’t compete, and they don’t have nationals. So more than any­thing, I’m just grateful that I actually can do some­thing that I love.”

The meet will begin on Friday, March 12 with Johansson, Depies, and Maines com­peting in their respective events. Raffin and the women’s 4x400m relay will compete on Sat­urday, and if Johansson makes finals in her events, she will race Sat­urday as well.