This past summer, Oswego State Athletics hired Sarah Ritchie as the new head coach for both the men and women’s cross country teams. Ritchie, a Hilton, New York native, arrived at Oswego after three successful years at SUNY Brockport.
“It’s been a very comfortable transition,” Ritchie said. “I coached three years at Brockport, one as a head coach and two as an assistant. So this is my fourth year coaching, but it’s my first time coaching outside of the Rochester area, which makes it exciting being in a new city.”
Ritchie is already starting to build good relationships with her new team members.
“They were quiet at the beginning, but now they’re starting to open up,” Ritchie said.
Sophomore Justin Sommer said, “It’s been different based on training and the different atmosphere in practice. She has really pushed us to work hard.”
Sommer had an impressive freshman year, competing in one 6k event, one 7.75k event and six 8k events for the Lakers. He earned the number 13 spot on Oswego’s all-time 8k results list with a time of 26:37.5 and took the number three spot on Oswego’s all-time 6k results list with a time of 19:56.0 at the SUNYIT Invite. He was also the top finisher in Ritchie’s first race as head coach, finishing in fifth place out of 126 runners.
That competitive drive that Sommer describes is seen in the contributions that Ritchie made during her time at Brockport, where she helped athletes break nine school records and coached five students to SUNYAC titles. She also helped the men’s outdoor track and field team capture the SUNYAC championship in 2015.
In their first invitational since Ritchie has taken over the job, at the SUNYIT meet, both Oswego State teams performed extremely well. The women’s team finished in third place out of 13 teams while the men finished first out of 13 teams. The men’s team finished with all seven runners in the top 20.
Performing at home last Saturday, Sept. 12, the women’s team finished in fifth place out of 10 teams while the men finished in second place out of nine teams.
Ritchie had praise for her new team.
“These kids are eager to learn and try hard every day,” she said.
Sophomore Morgan Bronner said that the biggest change that Ritchie has brought to the program is her new nutrition program. Bronner also performed well during her freshman year. She competed in four 5k races and four 6k races for the Lakers, finishing the year on the SUNYAC All-Academic team.
The next invitational for the men and women’s teams will be on September 26, the Roberts Wesleyan Anderson Invite, in Rochester, New York.