The Women’s cross country team races at the Joe Paine Invi­ta­tional
Courtesy | Hillsdale College Ath­letic Department

The Hillsdale College Women’s Cross Country team split and com­peted in the Joe Piane Invi­ta­tional hosted by the Uni­versity of Notre Dame and the Lansing Cross Country Invi­ta­tional. At the Joe Piane invite, the Chargers took 5th place as a Division II team running against mostly Division I teams. Sophomore Liz Wamsley took 17th place with a time of 18:24.7, fol­lowed by junior Gwynne Riley, who took 22nd place with a time of 18:43.6.

Scheske said although the team didn’t score as well as they would have hoped, the race got the runners excited for the upcoming cham­pi­onship season.

“We didn’t feel like it was our strongest showing as a team, but it kind of lit a fire under us,” Scheske said. “We need to really focus and narrow in on what our goals are, what we’re going to do between now and con­ference in order to show the strength that we think we have.”

The runner’s goals were to start the race aggres­sively and pack together, according to Head Coach Andrew Towne.

“You practice dif­ferent strategies throughout the season because you’re never quite sure in a cham­pi­onship race what you’ll see and so we really wanted them to get out hard the first mile and they did that,” Towne said.

According to Scheske, the large number of runners made the race dif­ficult, despite the course being rel­a­tively flat.

“It got out very fast, which we antic­i­pated,” Scheske said. “At no point in the race was anyone ever by them­selves. There’s always someone right behind you and someone right in front of you. It kind of has the feeling of a more cham­pi­onship race.”

Riley said the team fol­lowed their goal of sticking together as a pack, even though they split apart at certain points. During the third mile of the race, freshman Abby Scherer caught up with her.

“We started to move back up to some of the other girls on our team like Claire and Meg,” Riley said. “The third mile we just worked together to finish it out.”

Having a teammate to run with during a dif­ficult moment in the race gave her a boost, Riley said.

“It’s just a big encour­agement having your teammate there. You’re training with them in practice and then you do the same thing in a race. It’s really inspiring and it makes you want to work harder during the race.”

The team also sent three runners to compete in the Lansing Cross Country Invi­ta­tional on Oct. 1. Natalie Mar­tinson fin­ished in 15th place with a time of 20:12.4, fol­lowed by freshman Brynn Edison, who took 21st place with a time of 20:25. 

As the Chargers look forward to their con­ference meet, they will make adjust­ments to their training in order to succeed in the race. The workouts in practice will get more focused on speed rather than endurance.

“We’ll grad­ually start to reduce some volume,” Towne said. “There won’t be any drastic changes.”

One of the upcoming prac­tices includes what the team calls a Michigan workout, which includes intense running on the track varied with tempo running on the grass field.

“That’s one of the hardest workouts we do in the season,” Riley said. “If we can do this in Michigan, we can def­i­nitely race well at conference.”