As the summer months end, the leaves change color, the weather gets colder and SUNY New Paltz’s Cross Country teams heat up.
The Hawks Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams opened their season by taking home their respective titles at the New Paltz Invitational on Aug. 31. The Women’s team took second place honors at the Vassar Invitational on Sept. 7, while the Men’s team took third.
At the New Paltz Invitational, second-year Mike Scher finished first in the 4K run with a time of 13:33. Fourth-year Nichole Wischoff took first in the Women’s 4K event, finishing the race in 15:30, 44 seconds ahead of second place finisher Amanda Wolfer. The top four finishers from both the men’s and women’s competitions were New Paltz runners.
“With every new season, runners get a little bit stronger and more experienced,” Head Coach Mike Trunkes said.
Trunkes said new members and key returners are imperative to the men’s team’s success. Rob Gorski, a third-year transfer from Marist, and Ithaca High School standout and first-year Josh Greenberg, are two important additions, Trunkes said.
Trunkes also said fourth-year Shawn Gannon’s return to the squad this year after an injury kept him on the sidelines last fall will also make a difference. Despite not running with the team for a year, Trunkes said Gannon is in “great shape.”
The Lady Hawks are returning all of their members from last season’s regional team. Trunkes said runners second-year Bridgette Joskow, second-year Sammi Harris and second-year Jessi Putnam have all made improvements from last season. Trunkes expects first-year runners Kelly Mahoney and Rachel Levy to make an impact on the team.
“They’re both very strong and have already inserted themselves into the top seven,” Trunkes said.
Wischoff said the New Paltz Invitational was important for the team, which is looking to come out strong and stay strong.
“[It] definitely set a strong tone for what is to come this season,” Wischoff said.
Wischoff also said the team is at its strongest and she expects them to do well this season.
Wischoff aspires to be in the top 35 at the National Championships and to receive All-American honors. In order to reach these goals, she upped her training regimen from running 70 miles a week to 80 miles a week.
“The higher the volume, the stronger you become. It’s all about building a really strong aerobic base,” Wischoff said.
Ultimately, Wischoff said, a team berth for nationals would be the “coolest thing ever.”
Scher won his first race as a college athlete at the New Paltz Invitational. The victory gave him a “good amount of confidence” as the races increase in distance in correlation to season. The goals he set for himself before the season are finally in reach, and he said he may even surpass them.
Scher’s main mentality, however, is team-first.
“The only [goal] that I really care about is the team goal, because I know how much it would mean to everyone on the team and to Coach [Trunkes],” Scher said.
Like Wischoff, Scher increased his running workload for the summer as he went from a weekly mileage of 50 miles to 65 to 70 miles.
With a good foot off on the season, Trunkes and Wischoff said if the team remains strong and continues to grow, they will be competitive when championships and regionals roll around.