For the Plattsburgh State cross country team, the largest meet of the season before the weekend had involved 16 teams and about 200 runners for each gender. Last weekend at Waterford, Connecticut’s Harkness Memorial State Park, the Cardinals ran in a field nearly double that size, with 27 teams, 307 women and 402 men.
In a field featuring six nationally-ranked teams in each gender, including the hosts, Connecticut College, PSUC finished 20th in the men’s race and 21st in the women’s. The team left the final event before Oct. 27’s SUNYAC Championship feeling happy about the way the race unfolded and the improvements had made.
“I thought we did very well,” head coach Andrew Krug said.
Krug readily pointed out that the Cards made several personal records despite some additional challenges beyond their control.
“We had some wetter and colder conditions than we had seen,” Krug said. “There were a few muddy spots.”
PSUC junior Kristina Watrobski expressed a different sentiment about the weather than that of her coach.
“I love racing in poor weather,” Watrobski. “I think it’s a lot of fun, and I know a lot of the girls on the team feel the same way.
Watrobski, who led the way for the Cards in the women’s 6-kilometer race, shaved an impressive two minutes and eight seconds off of her time on the same course a year prior.
“I’m in a much better place, both physically and mentally, than I was last year,” Watrobski said.
In Watrobski’s opinion, her personal improvement has been as much about the team culture as it has been about the work she has put in.
That is something Watrobski sees as a major factor on this year’s team.
“The love and support that the women’s team has this year is better than it’s ever been,” Watrobski said. “That is pushing everyone to do better.”
On the men’s side, Luke Groves was the top finisher for PSUC, also setting a personal-best time on the course.
Another athlete highlight by Krug for his improvement was freshman Tyler Martin, who finished seventh for the Cards and 286th overall, but cut more than one minute off of his time across the same distance two weeks earlier in Saratoga.
“I had what seemed to be a good day, even though I didn’t feel I ran like I should have,” Martin said. “The pacing was a little off, but it was still really good. I’m just hoping to drop a lot more [time] at SUNYACs.”
With a week off to prepare for the SUNYAC Championships, Krug said PSUC took this week focus in and do more intense workouts in practice, and will take much of next week to rest, with a lower intensity in practice.
While the meet in Connecticut was the team’s longest road trip of the regular season, the Cards will ironically travel about 100 miles further for the SUNYAC Championships in Fredonia, New York. For Krug, the extra travel time is an opportunity.
“I think it’s just getting used to being on the bus, watching movies, being relaxed and hanging out with teammates,” Krug said. “There’s some good team bonding, stories told and all of that.”
Martin readily acknowledged that being on the road helped him in Connecticut.
“Surprisingly, I had the best night’s sleep — on the road — that I’ve had all season,” Martin said.
With SUNYACs two weeks away, Krug knows exactly what his goal for PSUC is.
“We’re looking for top-five finishes on both sides,” Krug said. “That’s been our goal since the start of the season.”
After this week’s heavy workload in practice, Martin is feeling very confident about going to SUNYACs.
“I had a really good workout,” Martin said. “I was a lot higher up in the pack than I had been. I feel like I’m going to do great.”
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