For the reigning Region XX champs, the return to campus has a very different look and feel this season due to the pandemic. As the only Hawk athletic program participating in NJCAA competition this fall, cross country, a sport that fits within social distancing guidelines, is off and running. That's just what runners do, they run, continually challenging themselves, finding comfort in the solitude of carving seconds off their personal best. So when asked if recruiting was interrupted due to COVID 19, Head Cross Country Coach, Mike Spinnler responded, "You control what you can control. In the off-season we gave the kids workouts to follow, and more importantly, we stayed positive and kept moving towards our goals." Spinnler added, "Our Assistant Cross Country Coach, Maria Spinnler, has assembled the best men's recruiting class we've had, since coming back to coach at HCC in 2015."
Top returner, Henry Schmidt, (Washington Co. Tech/Boonsboro HS,) 2019 3200 Track & Field Maryland State Champion and individual 2019 NJCAA Region XX Champion, is returning for his sophomore season. "I am really excited for this meet, and I am really excited to be a part of this team. We are 1-7 strong and continue to push and support each other daily at practice," stated Schmidt, when asked about competing at Westmoreland County Community College, Youngwood, PA, on Friday. "One of my goals is to win the Region XX and better our overall score by more than one point." Joining Schmidt is teammate Trentin Overcash (Chambersburg Area, PA,) a Pennsylvania state qualifier, who redshirted fall 2019. The two provide the sophomore foundation of the squad, supported by returners Garrett Kercheval (Smithsburg HS) and Dharma Bhatt (North Hagerstown HS).
New comer and 2019 Cross Country Maryland State Champion, Zane "Iggy" Chalker (Williamsport HS) adds a new layer of competition to challenge the upper classmen. When asked what went into his decision to run as a Hawk, Chalker stated, "Staying home and taking virtual classes at HCC was the better decision from both an academic and financial standpoint. I didn't know it at the time, but my opportunities to run and compete ended up being limited to the community college level anyway." Chalker also expressed excitement in running with his new teammates. "Winning last year (running for Williamsport HS) as a team was great. I hope to take that momentum into this season and am excited for the chance to run as a team with these guys." Joining Chalker as freshmen are 3 additional local talents in Gabe Conder (Williamsport HS,) David Butts (North Hagerstown HS,) and James Buchheit (homeschooled through Kolbe Academy).
Coach Spinnler has great optimism when it comes to his team hitting the course tomorrow. "These kids are a talented group of kids from top to bottom. I like to call Henry, Trent, and Iggy the 'big three,' because they have been pushing and supporting each other, daily, to get the most out of each workout. The big three set the pace, and with the talent we have beyond them, it's exciting to see how this will play out. We're looking for the national rankings to come out next week to see where we stand," added Spinnler. "Our goal from the very beginning has been to run as a team in the NJCAA National Cross Country Meet and NJCAA National Half Marathon in Fort Dodge, IA in November," said Spinnler, "and I like our chances."