When junior Alex Oquist crossed the finish line in 10th place, dripping rainwater and sweat, he clinched the men’s cross country team’s first victory of the year at Saturday’s Hillsdale Invitational. Despite one runner falling on the muddy course, the Chargers were able to persevere and defend their home course against regional opponents Lake Superior State and Northwood University.
Leading the way for the Chargers was junior standout Joey Humes, who finished first for the second meet in a row, and the third time this year. Following close behind Humes was sophomore Mark Miller and senior Eli Poth, who finished third and fourth respectively. Rounding out the scoring runners for the Chargers was sophomore Jack Shelley and Oquist, who finished seventh and 10th respectively.
Saturday’s meet was the first home meet of the season, and many team members had family or friends come out to watch them compete, Humes said. Among the fans watching was Miller’s father, who ran cross country at Drexel University. Miller said his dad enjoys coming to the meets and cheering on the team.
“My dad is really good at pumping people up and everyone likes to see him,” Miller said. “He just raises the energy level and he’s really encouraging. When you are really tired during the race you just hear this guy yelling to you and you’re like ‘Ok let’s go.’”
Hayden Park, in addition to being the Chargers’ home course, is the site of the Midwest Regional on Nov. 17. Assistant Coach R.P. White said the meet location will give his runners the advantage during the regional meet.
“We’re going to be the team at regionals who has ran the most miles at our course. From a strength standpoint, it being a tougher course that will help us and the familiarity of it will help us,” White said. “We know every nook and cranny of it.”
Humes said he was surprised more teams didn’t compete in Saturday’s meet in order to see the course they would be racing on in one of the most important meets of the season.
“It was a confidence booster for us this weekend because we now have raced on the course and we know what it’s like and nobody else in our region does besides Lake Superior State and Northwood,” Humes said. “Hopefully they try to go out too fast and those hills just eat them alive.”
The Chargers’ next race will be the Division II Pre-National/Regional Meet on Oct. 20 in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.