The first foray into Great Midwest Athletic Conference postseason action starts with the Charger men's and women's cross country teams.
Hillsdale's squads are headed to Nashville to participate in the 2017 G-MAC Cross Country Championships, hosted by Trevecca Nazarene University. The men's race kicks things off Saturday with the 8K championship race at 10:30 a.m. local time, 11:30 a.m. Michigan time. Ther women's championship race will begin one hour later. Both races will be held at the Vaughns Courses.
Admission to the event is free of charge, though there will be a $5 parking fee.
Both Charger squads will be attempting to break the stranglehold Cedarville University has had on G-MAC cross country championships. No other member school has won a team championship in either men's or women's cross country since the conference's inception in 2012 except for Cedarville. The Yellow Jackets have consistently produced deep squads with talent at the top end as well as the middle of its lineup.
The Charger men's team, picked as the preseason conference favorite, has been hamstrung due to injuries to some of its top performers through the year. One of the team's two seniors, Anthony Wondaal, has missed the season with injuries, as has 2016 GLIAC Freshman of the Year Joseph Humes.
"We feel like we've improved all year," said head coach Andrew Towne. "Now that we've entered championship season, I'm anxious to see if we can continue that improvement. Nathan Jones has been great all year. For a young guy, Mark Miller has done really well. I think we can make it interesting on Saturday."
Senior captain Nathan Jones is the team's only other senior, though Hillsdale can count on younger runners like Morgan Morrison, Nick Fiene and Mark Miller to rub elbows with some of the conference's better runners in an effort to help Hillsdale achieve a conference championship.
The Charger women's cross country team has been ranked as high as fourth in the national poll this fall, and finally has a healthy lineup ready to go for this weekend's G-MAC championships. Senior Hannah McIntyre is a veteran of postseason events and leads a young lineup into conference title contention.
The team has received some strong performances from its freshman class, featuring runners like Kyleigh Edwards, Christina Sawyer and Maryssa Depies. Talented underclassmen Arena Lewis and Allysen Eads could be key performers for the Chargers as they have rebounded from injuries and could potentially provide valuable points for the team.
"We're excited to compete for this conference championship," Towne said. "We haven't been at full strength yet this year, so we're happy to have everyone ready to go at the same time. It's been a great learning experience because we have been so young at so many key spots. But we've done a good job of applying what we've learned through the year, so it's our hope that Saturday is the start of a good championship season for our women."
The event will be live streamed on the Great Midwest Digital Network. The direct link to the video feed is located at the top of this release.