The Hillsdale College Chargers came into the 2019 indoor season as a young, inexperienced team with a lot to prove. After continued improvement and a strong performance at the G‑MAC Indoor Championships last weekend, however, the Chargers will bring experience and momentum into the upcoming outdoor season.
Hillsdale rode some strong individual performances to a third place finish at the conference championship meet. Tiffin University took first with 183 points, while the University of Findlay, the host of the meet, took second with 113 points. The Chargers finished the meet with 86 points.
“Some of those other teams have some pretty stellar guys.” Junior Joseph Humes said. “I don’t think anyone thought we could go up against those teams that have competed at a national level. To finish third is exciting, I definitely feel like we performed up to our full potential.”
Humes has been an anchor for Hillsdale all year, and came through in the clutch last weekend. Humes entered the meet as the favorite to win both his events, the 3000 meter run and the mile run, and didn’t disappoint.
In the mile run, Humes started strong and held the pace for 16 laps around the narrow track in the University of Findlay’s Malcolm Athletic Center. As he came around the final curve, however, the race was far from decided. Humes finished in a meet record 4:15.02, but five other runners finishing within three seconds of him. One of these close finishers was freshman Mark Miller, who took second with a time of 4:15.91.
“All I was thinking about was just keep cruising and focus on winning on the race.” Humes said.
After his victory in the mile, Humes also competed against a loaded field in the 3000 meter run, a tall task as fatigue played a factor.
“It was tough running again right after the mile. My legs didn’t feel good.” Humes said. “Most of the good distance runners were running in the 3000 and I didn’t know if my legs had enough to keep up.”
In spite of the fatigue, Humes was able to stay in the lead pack through the course of the race. In another finish race down the stretch, Humes came out on top to win his second event of the meet.
Humes finished in 8:31.65, just three tenths of a second faster than the second-place finisher.
“It was a grind.” Humes said. “A lot of the other guys were keying off of me, trying to tire me out. To be that guy that everyone is focused on and still come out on top is really cool.
These two victories earned the Chargers almost a quarter of their team points. After the meet, Humes was recognized as the men’s Track Athlete of the Meet, the second consecutive year he’s won that award at the G‑MAC Indoor Championships.
“It was a little surprising to win again,” Humes said. “There’s a lot of talent at that meet, a lot of guys that are nationally qualified, so it’s definitely cool to win.”
Hillsdale also had a great showing in the heptathlon, an event that demands a high level of performance in all different disciplines. Sophomore Ryan Thomsen shined in the field events, taking first with 4802 points, a new meet record. Freshman John Baldwin also competed well, winning three of the individual events and finishing second with 4656 points.
While the Chargers had several athletes meet the provisional qualifying times, none of them ranked high enough to make the field for the national meet. Hillsdale will have three weeks to refocus on the beginning of the outdoor track and field season.
A new season brings new opportunities, and head coach Andrew Towne sees each new season as a chance to improve on the last.
“We’ve really stressed that there isn’t another 2019 track and field team. This is their team,” Towne said. “There’s a real focus on becoming our best.”