A confident Joey Humes kicked off his senior campaign with a speedy first-place finish at the Calvin College Knight Invitational on Saturday. The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named Humes the NCAA Division II National Athlete of the Week. He also earned the G‑MAC Athlete of the Week title.
He won the 8k race by more than 20 seconds with a time of 24 minutes, 49.9 seconds. Humes ran a conservative first half of the race, but as he approached the 4000 meter mark, he began to leave the competition far behind.
“It was a huge surprise. I think most people open up this weekend instead of last weekend, but quite a few DII teams still ran, so to be pick out of all of those was pretty special,” Humes said. “It’s a huge honor. Not many people get it. It makes me think there are hopefully good things ahead.”
Humes led the Chargers to 10th place out of 24 teams and 218 runners. Host school Calvin College won the meet, with John Carroll University and Grand Valley State University taking second and third, respectively.
Junior Mark Miller ran with a similar tactic as Humes. He smiled through much of the first half. He finished 16th overall in 25:40.3.
“I took it easy the first half and there were just people cheering and I wasn’t really feeling it yet, so I was just smiling and then the second half,” Miller said. “Then the smile went away because I started to press a little bit and it got tough like at the 5k and I was trying to change gears and that wasn’t really happening. But then with like six or 7k I really started to go. I felt tired, but I could definitely go faster.”
Next to cross the finish for the Chargers was junior Adam Wier who is looking to have a much improved 2019 season. He earned 65th for the Chargers, finishing in 26:37.6 and beating his previous personal record of 26:46.9
Then came freshman Mark Sprague, who had a major adjustment to make from the 5k high school cross country courses to the collegiate 8k course. He finished in 27:51.8 to take 124th place overall.
“It was kind of a weird adaptation going that extra 3k. At some points it was like, ‘Oh, I have my whole entire high school race left to go and I’m feeling OK right now, can I keep this going?’” Sprague said. “The last 2k went by pretty quick and overall my legs felt different than they do in a 5k. It was kind of a hard transition but I think it went pretty well.”
Assistant Coach Richard White said this season-opener is similar to years past and things are still very much in the air as to what the Chargers will do this season.
“We had a mixed bag of things, and that’s what will happen when you have some more middle distance oriented people,” White said. “This doesn’t define what what we’re going to be able to do in the rest of the season. There were some good things, and some not so good things, but that’s to be expected for the first one.”
Another group of Chargers will race next weekend in Tiffin, Ohio while these Chargers take the weekend off. They’ll be at the Tiffleberg Invitational on the Clinton Heights Golf Course. The men’s race begins at noon.