The Hillsdale men’s cross country team placed sixth on a snowy day in Hayden Park at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional on Nov. 17. That wasn’t quite high enough for the team to advance to the national meet on Saturday, but junior standout Joey Humes finished fifth to qualify for the national meet individually.
Humes was a part of Hillsdale’s 2016 national-qualifying cross country team, and competed at the national indoor and outdoor track meets last year. Racing well at the regional meet is the way to qualify for nationals, and Humes said he was relieved to be able to race well under the pressure.
“I was so nervous going into the meet, and those nerves came from the fact that this was the meet,” Humes said. “For me, the only meet that really mattered was regionals.”
Assistant coach R.P White said he wasn’t surprised that Humes qualified for the national meet, and thinks Humes can perform well at the national level.
“Joey is a national caliber athlete and as long as he believes that, he will bring home his first All-American accolade,” White said.
Eli Poth, Mark Miller, and Morgan Morrison all set personal bests at the regional meet, despite the tough conditions and difficult terrain at Hayden Park. Even though the team did not qualify, White said the Chargers ran their best race of the year on the day when it mattered most.
The cross country team will return all members except Eli Poth next year, and the team expects to continue to improve next season. The team entered this year unranked in the region and took sixth place out of 32 teams.
“I definitely think the team will improve next year,” Miller said. “We will miss Eli Poth, but the rest of the team will be another year older and will have an additional year of training to bring to the season. A whole year of running will build strength, which is vital to have a great cross country season.”
Even with another year of experience for the seven underclassmen, White said they will still miss Poth’s experience next year.
“Eli has been such a great example of perseverance,” White said. “His senior campaign was one that reflected all of his hard work and his love for the sport.”
While the most of the team transitions to the indoor track season, Humes has one more cross country race to run. The national meet will take place Dec. 1 at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on a course that Humes took fourth place on earlier in the year. The race begins at 11 a.m. Humes said he’s looking forward to showcasing his training at the national level.
“The best thing about nationals is the fact that everyone is there to race hard,”Humes said. “If you’re at the meet, it’s because you spent all season training, all summer putting in miles, and this meet is just the chance to show all the work that you’ve put in.”