The Hillsdale Chargers continued their strong start to the season on Friday at the Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Michigan. The team finished ninth out of 23 teams and beat their regional competitor Michigan Tech University, who was ranked 10th in the Midwest region preseason poll.
“On paper, we weren’t ranked in anything by anyone, and we beat the 10th ranked team in our region,” senior Eli Poth said. “We put ourselves in a good spot and we showed everyone we are good. It was a good, solid start to the season.”
The Chargers were led by junior Joey Humes, who placed 13th overall with a time of 25 minutes and 33.0 seconds. Humes had not run in an 8k race since his freshman year, and he said the distance wore him out.
“I was with the lead group for about two and a half miles. Then the two Grand Valley guys, one was last year’s national runner up and the other one was sixth, they took off right after that,” Humes said. “The wheels just came off. It was my first 8k, and it felt it. Once it got strung out, I just couldn’t keep up.”
While Humes wasn’t entirely satisfied with his finish, assistant coach R.P. White said he was pleased with how Humes has progressed since his college debut at the Spartan Invitational two years ago.
“Joey has positioned himself as a national-class athlete. He has competed at the NCAA Championships in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, and we’ve talked about taking the next step to becoming an All-American,” White said in an email. “As a freshman at the Spartan Invite, I preached learning and gaining experience. He’s come a long way since his debut race at MSU his freshman year, and I am eager to see his progress continue.”
The Forest Akers East Golf Course, where the meet was held, is perennially one of the softer courses of the season. This year was no exception. Both Poth and Humes said the soft ground, combined with Friday’s high heat, made the race more difficult.
“The course was squishy, and it takes a toll when you are trying to push off and it feels like you aren’t going anywhere,” Humes said. “The soft course definitely made it tough later on in the race.”
The team’s next meet is the Greater Louisville Classic on Sept. 29. Sophomore Jack Shelley, who has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot for the season’s first two meets, is expected to make his Hillsdale debut at the meet in Louisville, Kentucky. White said the firm course conditions will allow the team to run a faster race than it did at the Spartan Invitational.
“I can always count on a 30 – 60 second improvement from MSU to Louisville. Hopefully that’s the case again this year,” White said. “If we get out the first mile adequately and stay competitive in the middle portions, we should be happy with our times and our team place.”