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The Hillsdale College Women’s Cross Country team took 7th in the NCAA Division II Midwest Region Cross Country Cham­pi­onship in Evans­ville, IN, on Nov. 6. 

After receiving an at-large bid, the team heard on Monday night that they will advance to compete in the National Cham­pi­onship in St. Leo, Florida. This is the eighth straight NCAA Cham­pi­onship berth the Chargers have earned, dating back to 2013.

“Everyone sur­prised them­selves, and everyone sur­prised each other, and as a team, we sur­prised the whole nation,” junior Meg Scheske said.

Freshman Liz Wamsley fin­ished 7th with a total time of 21:07.01, fol­lowed by Scheske, who fin­ished 27th with a time of 21:42.5.

“I knew I just needed to replicate what I did at the G‑MACs, and I think that worked out pretty well,” Wamsley said.

Head Coach Andrew Towne said that the team’s per­for­mance at their pre­vious race made it easier to prepare for regionals.

“We started the race aggressive, knowing what’s on the line and not being scared of that,” Towne said. “I thought that was really impressive.”

Scheske said each of her team members raced according to her abilities.

“Our coach was kind of like, you guys have it in you, I know you do, I’ve seen it at practice, now, I just need you guys to do it,” Scheske said. “Every girl that was racing had locked-in eyes, like they were engaged, they were ready.” 

According to Scheske, the team started the race fast. In the second half of the race, the Chargers kept passing other runners and got neg­ative splits, which is when a runner fin­ishes a mile in less time than she took to finish the pre­vious mile. 

“The last kilo­meter is where most people feel it the most,” Scheske said. “I passed, I want to say, five or so girls in the last kilo­meter. It was just really exciting, when you’re at that point where you can’t even really think, you’re so tired. The feeling of passing someone just spurs you on.”

Throughout the race, Scheske said she didn’t know where she ranked, but knew she needed to place 25th to get an all-regional title. From the side­lines, her coach yelled out that she was cur­rently ranked in the low 30s, which she said gave her a boost of confidence.

During a moment where she struggled to stay moti­vated, she said she felt encouraged after spotting Wamsley in the dis­tance, fighting for a top spot.

“I could see Liz bat­tling it out with the top girls, in the top 10, and that was really cool because I was like, if she is up there, then I can be here. Speed up. I had this wave of admi­ration for her that also fueled my own race,” Scheske said.

As the team pre­pares for the Nationals race in Florida, Wamsley said she hopes to replicate her per­for­mance the past two weeks.

“I think, if I can again run the way I did at G‑MACs and Regionals, that I have a good shot at that,” Wamsley said. “Beyond that, I just want to enjoy the oppor­tunity to race at Nationals and to run a beau­tiful race.”