The Hillsdale College Chargers put together an impressive pair of races to earn 10 new personal best times at their recent meets on Oct. 4. Two groups split up to run at the University of Notre Dame’s Joe Paine Invitational and the Lansing Community College Invitational, where they finished 13th and 5th as a team, respectively.
At Notre Dame, the Chargers ran against a large field of Division I teams, with Utah Valley, Miami of Ohio, and Kansas State finishing first through third. More than 150 runners competed in the 5‑mile race, which is .03 miles longer than the typical 8K race they’re used to running.
Senior Joey Humes showed he can compete with some of the best as he finished second overall with a time of 24:14.8. After adding some extra mileage to his training, Humes is right on track with his personal best time and is leading the conference. He earned the G‑MAC Cross Country Athlete of the Week award, which is his second of the season.
Junior Mark Miller and sophomore Adam Wier each ran their best times to take 50th, and 57th, respectively. Miller’s time of 25:22.23 beats his previous best by 12 seconds, and Wier dominated his old record by more than a minute. He finished in 25:25.15.
“I was really nervous beforehand and everyone was going to go out really fast, but then I just got into it,” Wier said. “I just felt like I was rolling and it was a really good course, a really good day, and I thought we were eating people up the whole time. We placed well and ran fast.”
The next few Chargers all finished within 30 seconds of each other, but ranging from 91st to 119th place, showing the depth of competition in this race. Junior Jack Shelley was the first in this pack as he finished in 25:54.56. Fellow junior Morgan Morrison took 107th in 26:12.89, and senior Alex Oquist came in at 26:26.35. All three runners beat their own personal records.
Freshman Mark Sprague finished 142nd overall in the biggest race of his career, giving him a good taste of what the upcoming championship season will be like. He handled it well with a new personal-best time of 27:15.80.
At the Lansing Community College Invitational, the Chargers raced the unusual 5‑mile distance as well.
Senior Charles Holbrook led the way with a big PR of 27:06.8. He finished 30th overall out of 211 runners.
Freshmen Isaac Waffle and Sean Hoeft finished next for the Chargers, each beating their own personal best times. Waffle came in 33rd with a time of 27:09.6, and Hoeft took 50th in 27:37.5.
“We’re starting to increase mileage and in our workouts we’re doing more reps, so I think we’re just getting ready for the longer distances,” Hoeft said. “ I felt a lot better this time now that I had a race under my belt. I was more prepared and knew what to expect a little bit.”
While dealing with a slight injury, sophomore James McClure managed to run right around his personal best time, taking 51st in 27:39.7. He was followed by freshman Dylan Palmer in 103rd with a PR of 29:05.4.
While the Chargers haven’t made major changes to their training to see their times drop, a few things have helped them feel strong and faster, according to assistant coach R.P. White.
“There’s always tweaks from year to year, but I haven’t totally flipped the script. We’ve done a lot of strength stuff, a lot of stuff out at Hayden Park, which obviously prepares you to be pretty strong,” White said. “We’ve been more selective with our races too. We’re not racing as much so I feel like we can put a little bit more emphasis each time that we’re out there.”
With a couple more weeks of this solid training, the Chargers will be ready to roll at the Conference Championship meet on Oct. 26 in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
“I think those races gave our team a big confidence boost heading into the postseason. I’d say we have a great shot,” Wier said. “It makes me feel like I’m ready to perform well there and place high.”