Friday, June 14, 2024

Roberts recovers, finds new stride

After the tough season for the cross country team last year, junior Jazz Roberts came back stronger and healthier this season.

After suffering a foot injury two weeks before the pre-season last year, Roberts developed Achilles Tendonitis in the middle of the season and had to sit out for two weeks. Roberts said it was hard to perform with her injuries in the cold weather condition last year.

The coaches stayed patient and communicated with Roberts during her injuries, saying to focus on moving forward and getting better.

Roberts bounced back after the tough season and won the first three meets this season. Cross country head coach Andrew Krug said Roberts showed resiliency, great gumption and a positive attitude. Krug is very proud of where she is now.

“There can be stepbacks but how you react to it [is important,]” Krug said. “She certainly is someone that has reacted well and smart in terms of how to progress out of [her injuries] and get to be in a better spot and not give up.”

Roberts joined the cross country team in her freshman year and was not only awarded as PrestoSports Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week twice but also earned the title of Co-Rookie of the Year.

This season, Roberts has earned Runner of the Week twice and also ran her personal record for the 6, 000 meters with the time of 22:37.3 at the Aldrich Invitational.

“It’s a great morale and confidence booster for her as well as her teammates to know that they are in it together and just being supportive of what one another is doing,” Krug said.

Roberts appreciated winning Runner of the Week her freshman year and said it was discouraging not earning any of the awards last season due to her injuries. Roberts said knowing that she is now in better shape than in freshman year is very fulfilling. She is very proud of herself for getting back into shape in a short amount of time.

Coming into the third year of running in cross country, Roberts said nothing has really changed aside from the size of the team.

She said a smaller team made the athletes closer as they have to be there for each other. Not having a full team is common as injuries can be expected. She said the team has to be brave and strong for one another so that they can put its best foot forward for the race.

It is a different dynamic for Roberts not having the full team for the race, but the team is always looking at the big picture and wants each other to be healthy. If someone cannot run because of injuries, having them cheer for the team on the side is motivating.

Roberts said Krug has been receptive to her needs and always makes sure the training works best for her. Krug checks in with Roberts constantly and makes adjustments on the training if needed.

She also said the coaches needed some work on listening to the athletes, especially the women’s team when she first joined.

She said some athletes had mental health struggles the coaches did not understand, so she tried to educate them on the issues. After talking to the coaches, they check in with the athletes on their mental health first before their physicals.

“Having another woman there is awesome because she is relatable and she knows what we’re going through as women,” Roberts said about the assistant coach Sarah Bechtel.

At the beginning of her freshman year in cross country, Roberts defined herself based on her performance and forgot about her objective of running. She did not love running then because it was all about the competition.

Now, Roberts has come back to her roots and enjoys running again.

“If you’re having fun, the times, the great places and the racing will come out of it,” Roberts said. “So, I definitely have changed my attitude toward that. I’m a lot healthier in that sense.”

Krug said Roberts is a warrior with a competitive spirit, she is not necessarily loud but gets her work done. He is excited to see Roberts’ performance for the rest of the season and believes she can finish in the top five in the SUNYAC Championship.

As a student athlete, Roberts said she is very education-oriented and wants to maintain her 3.8 cumulative GPA while also having a good showing in the SUNYAC conference. She hopes that she can finish in the top three, despite the tough competition. However, she always reminds herself not to define her existence on her performance, to be brave and to do her best in academics and sports.

With next season being her last season, Roberts said it is scary but she is excited about her next chapter.

“Running has brought me some of the best friends in my life, so hopefully that will continue on,” Roberts said.

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