Last Friday’s women’s cross-country meet at the Robert Trent Golf Course in Ithaca, displayed the squad’s promise for the rest of the season, with a trio of talented seniors posting personal-best times, or very close to them, much earlier than expected. Christy Planer was second by less than half a second to junior Nyam Kagwima in 18:55.3, while teammates captain Angela Kudla and Emily McCabe placed fifth and sixth in 19:05.2 and 19:09.5, respectively.
With senior Mandy Knuckles, one of the Red’s top performers in recent years, still unable to compete, these strong performances are certainly needed.
After a tough cross country season turned into a successful track season, this may not come as a surprise to Planer.
“When [Planer] is healthy, she’s a consistent top-5 runner,” said head coach Lou Duesing. “Right now, she is more fit than ever before at this time in the season.”
Duesing echoed this sentiment regarding McCabe and Kudla as well, mentioning that he gives each athlete a summer training plan as a guide. They are not required to check in with him as the summer moves along, but it is obvious during the first few practices who took the time out of their days to train and who did not.
McCabe has also contributed significantly to the team since her freshman year, steadily running her way to the top-7 during cross country season and posting impressive times on the track throughout the winter and spring.
Kudla enters the season as the team captain, a role that, for some, serves as more of a distraction than as an incentive to focus and set an example for peers. As a top-7 runner on and off since her first season with the Red, this is not the case for Kudla, as this fall appears to hold more for her than in previous years.
“Early on, being a captain can give a person that extra push. Taking on that extra responsibility can be tough, or it can help,” Duesing said.
Kudla has her hands full with not only her own workouts, but with helping to lead her young teammates in the right direction, as they acclimate not only to cross country, but also to a collegiate life.
Piling difficult roommates, rigorous academics and social pressures on top of a demanding athletic schedule is not the easiest task for any of these women. Kudla helps them on a day-to-day basis to feel accepted and alleviate at least a portion of this daunting load.
“The freshman would not be performing as well already without this great leadership,” Duesing said.
With the season just beginning, Planer, McCabe, and Kudla have plenty to show in the upcoming weeks, beginning next Saturday when the women travel to Van Cortlandt for the Iona Meet of Champions.
Luckily, they have started off on the right foot for their final cross country season with the Red.
Archived article by Erin Garry
Sun Staff Writer