Cross Country Goes the Distance

Men's Cross Country gets ahead of the pack at the Vassar Invitational.


The SUNY New Paltz Cross Country has started their race toward conference glory successfully, with both men and women performing well at the Vassar and New Paltz Invitationals.  Most recently the men’s team took third place out of five at the New Paltz Invitational; the women’s team swept first place.

“My goals for the season are to finish the women’s team in the top four in the conference as well as top 10 in the region and the men’s team in the top six in the conference and top 20 in the region,” said Head Coach Michael Trunkes.

The team has adjusted to harder workouts as their goals become more ambitious. Early on they are moving up the ranks and accomplishing ambitious goals.

“We began by beating Oneonta for the first time in history at our first home invitational. This moved us up in the rankings a lot. They’re top 10 in the region so beating them was a big step for us,” said second-year Amanda Wolfer.  “I feel great about my performances thus far, I’ve consistently been finishing second  for the team.”

Wolfer said a lot of changes have been made since last season and everyone is working harder to achieve their goals.

“Our team this year compared to last year has dramatically changed. This has been the best New Paltz’s women’s cross country team in history,” Wolfer said.  “Big things are expected to happen. We were 5th in the conference last year, but this year it’s guaranteed we break into the top 3.”

According to the team, the changes they have made—including graduated teammates and harder workouts—has brought the team closer together and made them more ambitious.  Second-year Harry Collins explained that they have lost a lot of great athletes to graduation.

“This year the motto seems to be ‘less is more’,” said Collins.  “We lost a bunch of guys last year, including the legendary Joseph Gentsch, who will always be remembered and missed. He was a great leader and a great runner.”

The new dynamic, though lacking recent graduates, seems to be working well for the Hawks.

“We have great chemistry on both of our Men’s and Women’s teams this year.  We also have strong leadership and a very committed group of athletes,” Trunkes said.

Coach Trunkes believes that his committed runners can achieve all that they set out to this season if they keep their commitment.

“We need to continue to stay focused and do work.  There are no short cuts or secret formulas for success,” said Trunkes.  “It’s a lot of hard work and dedication from our athletes and coaching staff that will get us to where we want to go.

Trunkes said he relies a lot on team captains to motivate and set an example for the rest of the team.

“Nichole Wischoff has steadily increased her training volume over the past two years to where she is able to run 65 to 70 miles per week with intensity.”

Wischoff has dedicated her college free time to pushing herself to better her running ability.

“I’m a completely new animal this year,”said third-year Captain Wischoff.  “I’ve been training consistently and have gone from running 45 miles a week as a freshman, to 60 by the end of sophomore year, and now at 70 miles a week, I am finally reaping the benefits of two years worth of mileage.”

Wischoff also said that through leading by example, she sees the team work harder together.

“By staying positive and talking myself through workouts, I notice that the girls follow my lead. We are in it together,” said Wischoff

The team runs between seven and 12 miles each day and works with trainers to do body strengthening exercises. Wischoff has already seen improvement after coming in first place individually two weeks in a row, winning the first by 51 seconds and the second by 45.

“We are pushing each other in a positive way. Pushing each other to go faster,” Collins said.  “Last year there was some animosity on the team and some negative energy between us. That seems to be over.”

As the season progresses, Trunkes is sure that more runners will gain recognition and begin to place more competitively.

“Harry Collins has led our men in the last two invitationals and looks to be a force throughout the season,” Trunkes said, adding that he is a “very tenacious racer.”

Collins placed fifth of 57 at the New Paltz Invitational and sixth of 105 at the Vassar Invitational.

“I consider myself a race runner,” said second-year Collins.  “I’ve been working to run workouts harder this year. Coach Harris and Coach Trunkes both know I race well but workouts are something that I have always had to work harder at.”

Collins and his coaches know that practice makes perfect.  He wants to cover and eight Kilometer course 1:44 quicker than last year.

“It is an ambitious goal but I am going to try my hardest to achieve it,” said Collins.

Though the team talks about the season like it is already won, there is still plenty of hard work to come.  The season has just begun and some of the hardest meets are coming up.

“In Conference Geneseo, Plattsburgh and Cortland are all nationally ranked, and Oneonta will still be a tough fight for us on the women’s side.  For the men, our closest competitors will be Oswego, Brockport and Oneonta,” Trunkes said.  “If we can continue to improve our men will be in a very competitive position on Oct 29.”

The team is committed to working as hard as it takes to achieve their goals this year.  They are striving to break school records and prove they are the best our school has seen.

“Every day I tell myself that I am going to Nationals in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Nov. 19. I don’t think anyone in New Paltz cross country, men’s or women’s, has ever gone to Nationals, Wischoff said.  “I will not be stopped.”