XC teams set to run with D-I competition
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 20:09
Forty teams all aiming for one goal – to compete.
And all 40 will be looking to finish ahead of one another today at the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, P.A. The teams consist of national Division I, II and III runners, some of whom Plattsburgh State will be looking at for the first time.
Some larger schools that will be participating are Princeton, Villanova, Tennessee and Miami universities.
Still, PSUC head coach Andrew Krug remained seated with his arms folded and a clever smirk on his face as he talked about the teams.
“We’re talking some big names D-I programs, so that’s exciting and that will be a race to watch,” Krug said. “I think it will help motivate the kids. I think it will fuel their fire a little bit for the race.”
Krug said the Cardinals have learned from running the grueling 6k and 8k courses at the Yellowjacket Invitational held Sept. 15 in Rochester. Now they can apply their knowledge to anticipate upcoming times they want to set.
But if that isn’t enough fuel, perhaps the return of the PSUC standout performer Ryan Millar — a player Krug has called his “secret weapon” — will be.
Millar missed three weeks due to a nagging injury of his lower left sacroiliac joint (which is in the pelvis), which caused him to miss each of the team’s meets to this point.
“It was annoying,” Millar said. “I wish I could be out there hurting and helping (the team) through the race just like they’re going to help me through this race. I’m just glad to finally be able to contribute, not being so helpless on the sideline.”
Millar, who said he felt like he didn’t lose much of a step, will be using his first race to dust off the rustiness.
And the sooner he does that, may be the better.
Last year, Millar was the only Card to qualify for the NCAA Championships after finishing 21st at the NCAA Regional Championships with a time of 26 minutes, 3 seconds. He went on to finish sixth at the SUNYAC Championships with a time of 26:15.
On the women’s side, physical talent may not be the only thing the team has going for it. Krug said that because of their off week, the Lady Cards went apple picking, and he believes the mental break from running increased morale, which will help them become more successful on the field.
“It’s going to be a really good opportunity for our team to race against Division I teams,” PSUC runner Amanda Schermerhorn said. “Everybody is in good shape, so I think it will be a good course for all of us to run fast on and improve our team score so we can move up higher in the rankings.”
Schermerhorn was a freshman the last time she ran the course, finishing in 77th place in 23:19. Now she and the other upperclassman are hoping their familiarity will help them improve.
“Besides from a few freshmen, most of us already ran the course,” Schermerhorn said. “We’ve already had the experience of running in such a big meet, so it won’t be as nerve racking.”
No matter how big the meet though, Krug is still keeping close eyes on SUNYAC competition and schools such as Oneonta and Cortland.
“When we go up against those schools, it’s nice to see what happens at the end of the race, where we stand against them because it will impact our rankings and that could impact us at the end of the year with getting an at-large bid with nationals,” Krug said.
The results may indicate where PSUC stands in the bunch.
“Team wise we’re doing a lot better than I think anyone expected this year and running against really fast competition, I think we’ll get our confidence up,” Schermerhorn said.