When junior Joey Humes crossed the muddy finish line in 25th place at the NCAA Division II National Championships last Saturday, he became only the third Charger to win All-American honors in men’s cross country in the past decade.
Being named to the All-American team is the latest in a long line of awards Humes has won during his career at Hillsdale. But despite his success, it hasn’t always been easy.
After winning the GLIAC Freshman of the Year in 2016, Humes missed his sophomore season because the arches in his feet collapsed. Humes said it was caused by running too many miles without any orthotics and a lack of foot strength. In order to return to racing, Humes had to build up his foot strength through physical therapy.
“I went to a lot of physical therapy and did a lot of cross training, Humes said. “I was in the pool a lot and biking a lot, which I ended up hating, but that’s alright.”
Humes was able to return to running in November 2017, and was able to get back in shape for the indoor track season. Despite coming off an injury, Humes qualified for the national meets in both indoor and outdoor track in 2018 and earned Second-Team All-American honors in the indoor 1500 meter run.
Humes’ junior campaign has been his best yet. In addition to being named an All-American, Humes placed first in three meets, was named to the Midwest All-Region team, and was named G‑MAC Athlete of the Week in cross country four times.
Humes was the only Charger on the men’s cross country team to qualify for the national meet at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where earlier in the year he placed fourth in the pre-national meet. Assistant coach R.P. White said Humes’ mental strength has been the key to his success.
“There’s a lot of things you have to be gifted genetically to be that caliber of an athlete and be an All-American and run as fast as Joey does, but that means nothing without the mental side of things,” White said. “He does such a wonderful job with placing an adequate amount of pressure on himself but he doesn’t overdo it and it doesn’t make him crumble. He always demands a lot from himself.”
Humes said he learned how to deal with the stress that comes with big meets freshman year, when he was on a national-qualifying team.
“Being among that competition freshman year I was really nervous, but I had the older guys to look up to and they had done it once or twice,” Humes said.
Humes said he wasn’t satisfied with winning individual awards this season. He said his hope for next season is that his teammates can use him as inspiration to elevate their own performances, so that the whole team can experience competing for a championship.
“I really want the team to go to next year,” Humes said. “I really, really want the team to go next year.”
Sophomore Mark Miller, Humes’ teammate and roommate, said he looks up to Humes as a role model.
“Joey is a hard-worker, really fast, and he’s someone I can strive to be like,” Miller said. “He pushes me during training and he has a great work ethic.”
Humes will transition directly into the indoor track season on Friday, where he will compete in the 5k at Grand Valley State University. Humes will try to qualify for the national meet in that race, which he said is the easiest track race to switch to after cross country season.
White said Humes will continue to win accolades if he continues to prioritize excellence over championships.
“If Joey continues to have a growth mindset and us as coaches continue to have a growth mindset, kids like him will just get better and better,” White said. “He’ll be one of the most decorated distance runners that Hillsdale will have had.”