The road to the SUNYACs is often paved with stops and difficulties. For the Plattsburgh State cross-country teams, last week was one of those stops.

The teams had a week off to prepare for the Hamilton College Invitational in which the men continue running the 8K race, while the women will drop back down to the 5K.

The women are dropping back down to a 5K at Hamilton after running a 6K in the last meet. PSUC cross-country head coach Andrew Krug said he didn’t know why the women are going back to a 5K, as it was the hosting team’s choice.

Krug said the team will compete against Hamilton, Mohawk Valley Community College and likely Utica College, among others.

He said the race will still be competitive even without knowing the full field of competitors because of Hamilton, who Krug said has been in and out of regional rankings all season, making them a formidable opponent.

Senior runner Katie Ehmann said she saw the week off as a chance for the team to prepare for Hamilton.

“I think that having the week off, we’ve got to do some harder training,” Ehmann said. “Especially on the weekend, we had a pretty difficult workout, so it helped better prepare us for the harder races that will be coming up. And also, everyone had a chance to hopefully catch up on sleep and rest.”

The team was also able to get back some of its runners who have been fighting with injuries all season, and are now back to racing form. One such runner is sophomore Louis Castellani, who has been able to run in only one meet so far this season.

“I know for me, I’m coming back from not racing for awhile,” Castellani said. “So I think everybody is excited to go race again.”

Castellani is using this race to prepare for future ones. He has not been able to race this season due to injury, and the week off gave him the chance to prepare more for the race this weekend.

The men are competing in their second 8K of the season. They hope to improve on the first race.

The race at Hamilton will be a way for the runners to prepare for the harder races down the line, such as the UAlbany meet, SUNYACs and regionals. The race will be a good test for the team facing a top-tier team in Hamilton.

This race will give the coaches a better idea of who they can bring further into the season and give them the best chance of winning.

Ehmann said she sees the race as a way to get more experience to prepare for the harder races coming up. The race will give her another chance to figure out what she needs to do at the end of races to keep her pace.

“I’m tired at the end of the race, and it’s just about keeping me mentally strong until the end and giving it all I ‘ve got ‘til I get through the finish line and if there’s someone in front of me, go and get them,” Ehmann said.

With the race being a 5K, the women will have a chance to figure out things they need to do mentally and physically during the race to be able to succeed when they return to longer races.

At this point in the season, the Cardinals are looking to see which runners they will bring to SUNYACs and regionals. Only the top 14 members of the team can compete in SUNYAC, and regionals allow for only the top seven runners to compete.

“This race is critical for some people who might be on the edge of making those teams or not,” Krug said. “So we are hoping to have some good team competition as well as trying to kick some butts.”

Krug said he hopes the team makes sure to work collectively to earn a good team placement in the race and get better times for the individual runners.

He also said this meet is a way for the injured to get back on track.

“We will have some that are kind of working out for this in preparation for next week at UAlbany, where we go against a lot of DI competition,” Krug said.

Email Nick Topping at sports@cardinalpointsonline.com.

<a href="http://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/nick-topping/" rel="tag">Nick Topping</a>