After a surprising second-place finish at the G‑MAC Championship meet on Oct. 26, the Hillsdale College Chargers are ready for the Midwest Regional meet this weekend.
They now sit in the No. 8 spot in the regional rankings, in which they hadn’t been ranked all season. The Chargers will have to beat several tough regional opponents to qualify as a team for the NCAA Division II National meet, but it’s not impossible.
“We’re very confident, not even looking at results-wise but just the way we’ve been racing this season, we know we’re going to race the race we need to,” junior Jack Shelley said. “If that gets us to nationals, that’s great, and if not, we’ll know we did our best.”
The Chargers have continued to improved all season and are on pace to peak at just the right time. They’re healthy and after recording dozens of personal-best times this season, they have a lot of momentum going forward.
“I think that if everybody has a really good day we can make it,” junior Mark Miller said. “Some teams can’t really say that, like even if they had their best day, they still have no shot.”
Depending on how the other regions perform on Saturday, at least the top four teams will qualify for the national meet, potentially the top five, according to Shelley.
“Even with the performances we had at Notre Dame and at conference, a lot of us still weren’t really tapered for that,” Shelley said. “Mark and Adam, for instance, had been doing the same mileage the whole season, but for this race they’re going to be on pretty low mileage, so I think they’re going to blow up.”
Saturday’s race will be a jump up from the typical 8k to a 10k. While it is a longer distance, the course is flatter than the one at Hayden Park the Chargers have been training on all season, leaving them to feel confident in their strength to handle the extra 2,000 meters.
“I kinda like it,” Miller said of the increased distance. “[Senior] Joey Humes is a great cross runner but he’s also a great mid-distance runner. We have a few other guys like that, like Jack and I would probably consider ourselves more mid-distance, so I guess having trained on the hills over the season and being mid-distance runners, the flat course will help.”
The men’s race begins at 11:45 a.m. central time.