Senior Joey Humes races to the finish at Knight Invi­ta­tional. (Calli Townsend | Collegian)

The Hillsdale College Chargers were the underdogs going into Saturday’s G‑MAC Cham­pi­onship race, but they proved the rankings wrong as they fin­ished second as a team, with senior Joey Humes as the indi­vidual champion. This 8k race took place in Pepper Pike, Ohio, at Laurel School-Butler Campus.

The Chargers came together with intense effort and nine per­sonal best times to give Hillsdale 46 points, fin­ishing two spots ahead of the pre­dicted rankings. Walsh Uni­versity took first with 35 points and Malone Uni­versity came in third with 64. 

“They’re a special crew of guys,” assistant coach R.P. White said. “We really talk about living the lifestyle of a national champion team, not saying that we’re going to be the national champs this year, but just really starting to reframe how we approach our workouts and every­thing that encom­passes being an elite athlete. They’ve done a really good job of that.” 

Seeking redemption after last year’s con­ference meet, Humes started the race strong and kept his lead through its entirety to seal the victory with a time of 24:05.1. The next closest runner fin­ished in 24:18.0. 

“It was nice to see him grab the crown because last year I think it was kind of a fluke of a year for him, but for him to go out his senior year and do that, I was proud of him,” White said. 

Juniors Mark Miller and Morgan Mor­rison put together an excellent pair of races, pushing each other to finish fifth and sixth, respec­tively. The two earned All-Con­ference First-Team honors and two new per­sonal records. Miller fin­ished in 24:49.5 and Mor­rison fol­lowed right behind in 24:49.9. 

“Morgan was basi­cally the guy of the day,” White said. “He just stepped up from somebody who had never been in a position to be all con­ference person to be First-Team All-Con­ference.” 

Mor­rison said was sur­prised by his time and top-10 finish. 

“In some ways I was really sur­prised by the time, but looking back, it didn’t really come out of nowhere. I hadn’t raced in like four weeks leading up to that and I was coming off a really good race as Notre Dame and I was training really, really con­sis­tently,” 

Junior Jack Shelley was unable to finish the race after bat­tling sickness leading up to the con­ference meet. He had fin­ished 24th at last year’s G‑MAC Championship.

“It kind of hurt not having Jack Shelley out there. I think it would have been closer had we had Jack out there, but that comes with the ter­ritory of having a smaller team,” White said. 

Mor­rison said that after Shelley had dropped out of the race he felt the need to step up for his team. 

“During the race it was a really flat course and I could see the people in front of me. I saw there were three Walsh kids in front of me and I knew if we wanted any chance to win or place, I had to pass them,” Mor­rison said. “The whole race I just really focused on moving up the whole time because I knew that’s what it would take for the team to do well.” 

Sophomore Adam Wier fin­ished in 25:02.1 to take 11th, which is a big improvement from last year’s 48th-place finish. He earned a spot on the All-Con­ference Second Team. 

Despite the pressure of cham­pi­onship season, freshman Mark Sprague ran his best time ever by more than a minute and a half. He crossed the line in 25:39.4 to take 23rd overall. 

After running in his first con­ference cham­pi­onship cross country race last season and placing 79th, senior Alex Oquist jumped up to 38th place on Sat­urday with a PR of 26:15.7. He was fol­lowed by freshman Issac Waffle whose time of 26:25.0 earned him 46th place. 

Senior Charles Hol­brook is taking advantage of his improved health after two years of com­pli­ca­tions. He wasn’t even able to run in last year’s con­ference meet, but this year he fin­ished with a big PR of 26:38.9, taking 52nd place overall. 

Freshman Sean Hoeft has con­sis­tently gotten better with each race, and Sat­urday was no dif­ferent. He rounded out the pack of Chargers, fin­ishing in 71st place with a PR of 27:14.1. 

After Saturday’s race the pre­vi­ously unranked Chargers moved up to eighth in the Midwest Regional rankings. They’ll compete in Evans­ville, Indiana, on Nov. 9 for a chance to qualify for the NCAA Division II national meet. 

“Coming in second might have been the best thing for us going into regionals,” Mor­rison said. “We didn’t quite taste that victory and we’re still really hungry for it. We’ve been training all year for that 10k and so going into that we are really con­fident that we could place really well.”