Third-year captain of SUNY New Paltz’s Cross Country team Nichole Wischoff recently took 14 out of 256 runners at the NCAA Div. III regional.
After receiving US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-region honors, Wischoff said she is very proud of her success.
“‘Wow,’ is just about all that I can say to sum up the season I’ve had with my team and my coaches,” Wischoff said. “With the help of my incredible coaches, I have gone above and beyond even what I expected of myself. I found out Sunday that I qualified for nationals and haven’t been able to allow that to soak in.”
Wischoff has been a star athlete for the team this season, placing highest out of all New Paltz runners at the SUNYAC Tournament in November finishing eighth out of 122.
Despite the accolades and accomplishments, Wischoff was still surprised and in disbelief when she received word of her trip to Nationals.
Wischoff’s dreams became a reality on Nov. 19 with her berth into the NCAA Div. III championships. With a time of 22:19.36, Wischoff placed 103 out of 277 runners in the 6K race, finishing in the top-half of competitors and besting her own school record for the fourth time this season.
To prepare for the upcoming season, Wischoff said she woke up every morning over the summer and this semester to go for a run alone with only a dream in mind. She said she dreamed of her and her coach sitting on a plane to Oshkosh for a shot at the top 35 at Nationals in order to earn All-American credentials.
Head Coach Mike Trunkes is thrilled for Wischoff’s success.
“She worked incredibly hard to achieve what she has this season and her trip to Nationals is just the icing on the cake,” Trunkes said. “With her performance at regionals she positioned herself as one of the top cross country runners in one of the most competitive regions in the country.”
Both Wischoff and Trunkes believe the team ran up to their potential and worked incredibly hard this season.
“We moved up one spot in the region, and though that feat seems miniscule, the progress each and every one of them has made since last year and our incoming freshman has been huge,” Wischoff said. “The girls are stronger than ever and there is no doubt in my mind that slowly but surely, we will have more than just one woman going to nationals next year.”
Trunkes said the team has the confidence and drive to take them where they want to go. This season, many athletes made their personal best times. The team’s top seven runners are returning next fall and Trunkes said he hopes they will be one year stronger when they return in the fall.
The team will continue training each day and jump into some indoor races in the winter to prepare for outdoor track in the spring with the track and field club.
“Fourteen was a dream to me until Saturday,” Wischoff said. “I’ve made it a reality. I’ve got my eyes on first place next year.”