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.”