Joey Humes runs in the SRU Pre-National 8k on Sat­urday. Humes was named G‑MAC men’s cross country Athlete of the Week.
Slippery Rock Uni­versity | courtesy

The Hillsdale Chargers took seventh place out of 29 teams at the Division II Pre-National meet at Slippery Rock Uni­versity on Sat­urday. The team was led by junior Joey Humes, who fin­ished fourth overall and won his third G‑MAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week award, the most of any Hillsdale athlete this year.

Also scoring for the Chargers were sophomore Mark Miller and senior Eli Poth, who fin­ished 26th and 42nd respec­tively. Rounding out the top five for the Chargers were sopho­mores Jack Shelley and Morgan Mor­rison, who fin­ished 68th and 74th respec­tively.

Saturday’s Pre-National meet was held at the site of the Division II National Cham­pi­onships, and top teams from all over the country came to compete and get a preview of the course. Among the com­pe­tition was third-ranked Col­orado School of Mines, seventh-ranked Queens Uni­versity of Char­lotte, and the ninth-ranked Uni­versity of Mount Olive. 

““We went just to check out the course and compete against some high level com­pe­tition,” Humes said. “We know how nationals looks now, even if  that’s a 10k instead of an 8k.”

The Chargers were the fastest team in the con­ference for the first two and a half miles of the race, but were bested down the stretch by their three con­ference rivals: Cedarville Uni­versity, Malone Uni­versity, and Walsh Uni­versity. 

The fast start was a pre­planned strategy to help the team develop, and assistant coach R.P. White said he was pleased with how the team handled the strategy.

“We went out aggressive, maybe a little too aggressive, but I think for the overall devel­opment of the guys it was good,” White said. “We showed them we can run with anybody and if we just dial it back a little to give the guys a little more strength to put in the middle and end of the race, we can be right in the mix when con­ference rolls around.”

Another reason for the fast start was to try to get ahead of con­gestion on a course that narrows quickly after the starting line, Humes said.

“The course fun­neled down really quick, it had a big start line and they funnel you down to about four abreast. In those sce­narios its ben­e­ficial to get out hard,” Humes said. “The lead pack spaces out faster and then you have more room to make moves.”

While the Chargers did not place first in their con­ference, senior Eli Poth said the team showed they can compete for first place in the con­ference.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted, because we fin­ished fourth in our con­ference and we want to finish first. We need to beat those guys, but we showed we can compete alongside them,” Poth said. “We didn’t have our best day and we were still within 40 points of the best team, so that’s pretty com­pet­itive.”