Marissa Colvin (25) and Ginny Lucchettu (29) round a bend at the Rugar Woods in the 41st Annual Cardinal Classic Sept. 2.
Noah Bonesteel competes in the men’s 5k race at the 41st Annual Cardinal Classic in the Rugar Woods Sept. 2.
By Michael Purtell
Plattsburgh’s Cross Country season officially started with the 41st Cardinal Classic. As the host of the event, Plattsburgh’s runners were eager to show off their fresh legs and fiery competitiveness, earning both teams a second place finish.
The men’s team placed three runners within the top 10 finishers in the men’s 5k. Junior Noah Bonesteel headlined this group with a third-place finish, and first-year Graham Richard was hot on his heels to finish fourth in his first collegiate race. Junior Michael Brockway rounded out Plattsburgh’s top finishers by posting an eighth place finish.
For the women’s team, sophomore Marissa Colvin finished sixth with a personal best time of 20:48. Her last season was shortened by injury, and she was eager to return after a summer of hard work, in spite of recovering from COVID-19 the week prior.
“During the race I felt better than I thought I would,” Colvin said. “The struggle was definitely more mental than physical, but I was able to let that go. It felt good.”
Junior Sarah Smith finished with a time of 21:26, good for ninth place.
Justin Kumrow finished 15th (17:03), Jeremy Gundrum in 19th (17:18), and Erik Kucera in 20th (17:18). Logan Van Buren finished 22nd (17:31).
Plattsburgh had four more women finish within the top 20. First-years Lillian Moran and Anya Sloth, who finished within half a second of each other, earned 13th (21:49) and 14th (21:50) respectively. Ginny Luchetti improved on her previous time by five minutes to finish 16th (22:13), and Jayelee Southwell finished 20th (23:10). Kayla Grant filled out the top seven with a 22nd place finish (23:22).
These results inspired Bonesteel to share his optimism for the season going forward.
“The fun thing is that this year, we’re going to have a solid group of guys who can definitely run together,” Bonesteel said. “It’s cool to see the guys who are sophomores and juniors and seniors how we have matured and are able to lead the pack and show the way for the underclassmen.”
Plattsburgh’s top three men’s finishers — Bonesteel, Graham, Brockway — all landed within striking distance of each other, posting times of 16:25; 16:35; and 16:41 respectively, all finishing within 16 seconds of each other. Similarly, the top 20 men’s finishers also snagged times within 15 seconds, with Gundrum and Kucera finishing only a fifth of a second apart.
Second-year Head Coach Jordyn Naylon says these tight finishes are what’s going to help the team improve throughout the season.
“That was my goal when we started coming into the season. Noah, Graham and Mike should be in that group. And then the next group of guys, this group needs to be together. If the individual gets better, then the team gets better,” Naylon said.
Naylon said she expects the men to be able to get those gaps smaller throughout the season, especially with the effort she sees at practice.
“That race wasn’t perfect, they split up quite quickly. I told them right after, ‘We need to be in that group, we need to make that group stronger,’ but they came back the next day and ran a great workout,” Naylon said.
This improvement is driven by a coach who hopes the season leads to big results in placements in SUNYAC.
“I think top four [in SUNYAC] is definitely somewhere [the men’s team] can be,” Naylon said. “For the women, we can be at least fifth, or better.”
Her athletes agree, and add their own hopes for national competitions by the end of the season.
“I’d like to get all of us to nationals within a year or two,” Colvin said.
Coach Naylon avidly supports these goals and believes many of Plattsburgh’s top runners will be able to qualify for those national meets. Not all goals start and stop with the individual, and optimism for the team at large is at an all time high.
“I want to be a competitive team,” Bonesteel said. “I want to be a team that shows up and places well. I want other teams to look at us and think, ‘We need to run our best today because Plattsburgh is here.’”
Plattsburgh will look to continue building this reputation through its September meets. The Cardinals will travel to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for the RPI Harvest Classic, tomorrow, Sept. 16. Plattsburgh will also compete at the Ronald C. Hoffman Invitational hosted by St. Lawrence, Sept. 23.