The Plattsburgh State cross country team earned a positive result Saturday against familiar competition. The Cardinals took third place for both genders in St. Lawrence University’s Ronald C. Hoffmann Invitational, which featured three teams they had raced earlier this season.
In addition to two Canadian schools and SUNY Canton, the meet featured Cardinal Classic participants Clarkson University and St. Lawrence, as well as Norwich University and SUNY Potsdam, who both participated in PSUC’s season opener.
The race was the Cards’ first road competition of the year, and it came after a week off. For head coach Andrew Krug, that was a benefit.
“Thinking long term, it was good for us to have a harder week,” Krug said. “We were less focused on a race and more focused on our fitness.”
As the only nationally ranked team — the women are now No. 18 and men are No. 26 — the hosting Saints entered the race as the favorites to win, and they did take both team titles. PSUC junior Mikayla Barrett, one of two Plattsburgh athletes to set personal records on the weekend, was happy to face such a challenging opponent.
“It’s just more fun to go against a team that’s competitive,” Barrett said.
On the individual level, sophomore Jasmine Roberts took sixth place overall — third among NCAA athletes — which matched her result in the Cardinal Classic.
“Jasmine had a great race, having seen several of the same people up front with her at the Cardinal Classic,” Krug said.
In addition to Barrett’s personal-record 25 minutes and 59.79 seconds in the 6-kilometer race, Jessie Smillie also hit a career mark at 27 minutes and 21.16 seconds. This was, in part, the result of the Cards’ strategy entering the race.
“We planned for the girls to stick together and keep our top five closer,” Barrett said.
For the PSUC men, the third meet of the season saw a third different athlete place first among the Cards. This race was Andrew Horan’s turn to lead the pack, as he finished 11th overall — eighth among NCAA athletes — at a time of 26 minutes and 59 seconds on the 8-kilometer course.
“It felt like just a regular workout to me,” Horan said. “I felt fresh, so I decided, ‘Let’s go get this kid in front of me.’ I thought everybody was going to follow me, but they didn’t, so I just kept going ‘Let’s get this kid; Let’s get that kid.’”
With both the men and women finishing third among the six teams, Horan was content with the team’s performance and signs of improvement.
“I would have liked to have beaten Norwich,” Horan said, “but I’m fine with being right behind that for now. I think, once we get to a larger scale, we’ll be able to take them on.”
PSUC next races tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., in a return to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Saratoga Invitational at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for seventh consecutive year. For many of the Cards, this is a very familiar course even beyond the team’s prior visits.
“A lot of our kids have run there before in high school and in college,” Krug said. “We’ve had a lot of good times on that course. This has been a good meet in the past for us to run really well. I’m looking forward to see what we can do in 2018.”
Email Nathanael LePage at email@example.com