In a season coaches and players have declared as full of potential, the Plattsburgh State cross-country team didn’t waste time showcasing what it is capable of at last Saturday’s Cardinal Classic, finishing in second place.
Junior Ethan Vinson raced to a second-place finish, nearly taking the top spot away from St. Lawrence’s Thomas Caulfield. On the women’s side, freshman Hannah Despres led the team and finished in seventh place in her debut race for PSUC.
Head coach Andrew Krug believes the level of competition the Cardinals have faced so far has been extremely helpful to their development.
“To have them (St. Lawrence) come over and race against them was an awesome experience for our team,” Krug said. “They’re one of the best teams in the country.”
Krug was specifically impressed with Ethan Vinson, who Krug said did his homework this summer and came back in great shape.
“Ethan had an awesome race— he was running against some of the best runners in our region,” Krug said. “For him to be there this early in the season is a sign of good things to come from him.”
Vinson is just as pleased with his own performance as his coach.
“I was happy with the effort — the guy who I lost to, Thomas Caulfield, is one of the best runners in the region,” Vinson said. “They’re sixth in the nation right now, and we had some good performances, so I’m proud of us. Just watching how they handle themselves — the effort they put in helps us set a bar for ourselves.”
Krug credits the team’s youth and new faces as to why this team will be more competitive than some of his previous teams.
Despres is one runner who has stood out to Krug.
“Hannah is new to our program and definitely showed over the weekend that she can be a crucial part of the end of season for us,” Krug said.
Despres herself is surprised at how well she has performed.
“It was shocking. I don’t think anyone, including myself, could anticipate it,” Despres said.
“It was a pleasant surprise and I’m happy about that.”
Krug said that while the women’s team doesn’t have a clear-cut top performer, that fact makes them no less competitive. Multiple women being able fill that top spot can catch opponents off guard.
“I believe we have the ability to be interchangeable in that spot,” he said. “I think that’s what makes us more dangerous in an area where we can surprise people.”
Krug notes having many runners with similar abilities as another advantage. His team is able to stay together and both pace and push each other to a better time.
“We have some strong packs, and we have the ability to essentially pack up and run together,” Krug said. “That will help a lot when it comes to bigger races, making sure we close the gap.”
Despres is confident that the team has the ability to become even more competitive as it improves throughout the season.
“We are really looking to increase our pack time, and we can definitely do that this season with our team mentality and the work ethic we have,” said Despres.
Krug is confident his team is going to be making a large impact and turning some heads this season.
“I think we’re going to begin to show the rest of the region just how competitive we are,” Krug said. “We definitely can be a top-10 team.”
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