Hillsdale men’s and women’s cross country teams pause for a picture during summer camp. (Photo: R.P White | Courtesy)

The Hillsdale men’s cross country team has returned from its pre­season running camp and will begin its season Friday at the Jeff Drenth Memorial in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Cross country camp lasted four days and took place at the G. H. Gordon Bio­logical Station in Luther, Michigan. For junior Joseph Humes, pre­season camp was a chance to relax and focus on running before the season starts.

“At camp, all you have to do is run. You don’t have to worry about work or school or family,” Humes said. “You get to hang out with the team too, which is pretty cool.”

Assistant coach R.P. White said camp is the first chance to evaluate the progress the runners have made over the summer. During summer vacation, team members follow indi­vid­u­alized training reg­imens and post their progress online. Humes said summer training is harder because it’s done without the comfort of having team­mates close for support.

“You don’t have people around in the summer, so when you don’t want to run, the voices in your head get really loud,” Humes said. “It def­i­nitely becomes more of a mental game than a physical one, but you gotta keep the endgame in mind. If you want to be good, you have to get out and run.”

Camp is also the time when the team tra­di­tionally picks goals for the season, sophomore Mark Miller said. This year, the team chose not to make any def­inite goals before the start of the season.

“This year we switched it up and just talked about stuff we can improve on, like com­mu­ni­cation and being up front with each other,” Miller said. “As far as running goes, we just want to stay healthy and train.”

White said the team would make con­crete goals later in the season, which will include improving last season’s fourth place finish in the G‑MAC Cham­pi­onships. A pre­season poll of con­ference coaches pre­dicts the Chargers will finish third this season.

The team usually begins the season later in the semester at the Spartan Invi­ta­tional on Sept. 14. White said the Jeff Drenth Memorial was added this year as a way to ease the team into the season before the hectic Spartan Invi­ta­tional.

“We usually start off the season at the Michigan State meet. It is a humongous meet, and there are a lot of dif­ferent col­leges from NAIA schools to Division I schools,” White said. “I thought this would be good for the freshmen and for the guys that haven’t raced in a long time because of injuries to just get some­thing under our belt that is not too intim­i­dating, break the rust off and get back in race shape.”