The 2017 Hillsdale College women's cross country team ran into history Saturday morning in Evansville, Indiana.
Returning to the NCAA Division II championships for a fifth consecutive year, this team proved once again that it belongs with the elite programs in the country by taking seventh place overall at the national meet, hosted by the University of Southern Indiana and held at the Angel Mounds course. Hillsdale had 279 points as a team in taking seventh, the highest-finishing program out of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Adams State won the national championship with 126 points, edging the University of Mary, who had 137. California-Baptist was third with 148, followed by Chico State (179), Alaska Anchorage (180) and Grand Valley State (185).
Deploying one of the youngest lineups in the national championship field, Hillsdale attacked the course with veteran resolve, and placed four runners in the top 63 overall at Division II's top meet. The team's talented freshman class has stepped up with excellent performances all season, but it was the team's lone senior at the meet who put a fitting cap on a brilliant career.
Senior Hannah McIntyre took fourth overall at the championships with a time of 20:54.6 on the 6K course. She was one of two G-MAC runners in the top four, and made McIntyre the first four-time NCAA Division II All-American in Hillsdale College cross country history.
Back in 2014, McIntyre was a freshman on the team that finished second at the NCAA championships. In the three years since, she has seen the roster around her turn over almost 100 percent, but she has been a steady and consistent guiding force through it all, and put together her best race and led a brand-new group of teammates to another top-10 national finish. It was a great way to end a fantastic career for McIntyre.
Arena Lewis put together her first healthy season and was a big part of Hillsdale's seventh-place finish at the meet. She took 52nd overall, but her finish counted as 46th for Hillsdale, as she completed the race in 21:55.5.
Freshman Christina Sawyer ran two of her best races in the postseason, first at the Midwest Regional, and then at NCAAs, as she finished the race in 22:08.4, scoring 58th for the Chargers. Fellow freshman Maryssa Depies wasn't far behind with a time of 22:13.7, as she took 63rd for Hillsdale. Junior Allysen Eads rounded out Hillsdale's scorers, taking 108th place with a time of 22:50.8. Eads also put together her best cross country season for the G-MAC champion Chargers, and joined her teammates as worthy representatives of the conference and the institution on the national stage Saturday morning.