The results of the first four meets for Oswego State women’s cross country have been mixed. The Lakers finished near the top in some meets and near the bottom in others. However, one thing has been consistent: Katie Laris finishing first for the Lakers.
In every meet so far this year, Laris has been the first Laker to cross the finish lIne, an impressive feat for the senior.
Cross country head coach Sarah Ritchie knew about Laris even before she was hired this summer to lead the program.
“Being from Brockport, I knew Katie as an athlete a little bit,” Ritchie said. “I’ve seen her compete against Brockport.”
Ritchie was impressed with Laris’ running ability while she was coaching at the College at Brockport. Now, Ritchie has the pleasure of rooting for her as Oswego State’s head coach rather than rooting against her .
Laris, who has been a competitive runner since her freshman year of high school, has experimented with different events throughout her career.
“I’ve ranged from a whole bunch of distances,” Laris said. “In [high school] track, I would do the 400 [meter] and in college [track] I started doing the 10K.”
Laris has made the transition easy and has become one of the leaders on her team, not only through her racing results, but through her actions and her demeanor.
She also noted that Ritchie was understandably shy around the team when she was first hired and although she admires her coaching style, there was extra weight on her shoulders from an experience standpoint.
As a senior, Laris realized her responsibilities as a leader.
“Being a senior gives that pressure of ‘I’m one of the older people in the group and they look up to you,’” Laris said.
“It was an easy transition,” Ritchie said. “I was really shy at first, but I think that our relationships are building and it is a different coaching philosophy and she’s adjusting to it well.”
While she is seen as a leader, Laris doesn’thave to carry the load herself. Being one of three seniors on the team, they all split the leadership responsibilities.
“My friends Amy [Hannahan] and Karlee [Duffer] were nominated as captains, but we all just work together to keep the team going,” Laris said.
Although they’re only going to spend a year together, Laris and Ritchie have collaborated to make sure there is a positive environment for the team.
“She’s been great,” Laris said. “She’s very understanding and I like her coaching.”
One thing that Ritchie has done every week this season is post a quote of the week. Laris said that the idea of putting a quote up and seeing it there all week has given motivation to the athletes during their training.
Laris also mentioned the aspect of preparation helps her through the season.
“[Ritchie] has us make a race plan during the week and have it in our head during the workout so you can invision it for the next race,” Laris said.
Laris hopes this preparation tactic will help her in the team’s last invitational before SUNYACs, which are at the end of the month.
“The one in Pennsylvania [Lafayette Leopard Invitational] will be a last-minute strategy of tune-up for whatever you want to do for SUNYACs,” Laris said. “I think I can really improve almost over 30 seconds and get the strategy going for SUNYACs.”
Ritchie is optimistic about how not only Laris, but the rest of her team can perform at Lafayette College. After finishing 27th out of 32 teams at the SUNY Geneseo Pre-Regional Meet, the Lakers have room to improve.
“She is one of our three seniors, so it’s helpful to have her also lead on the course,” Ritchie said. “She is definitely a leader by example. She runs the furthest out of anyone on the team… She runs the fastest.”
As the season comes to a close, Laris looked back on her season before she races one the last time for the Oswego State Lakers in green and gold. With only two meets left, she has a chance to prove herself even more than she already has this year, and leave behind a legacy of consistency and dominance.
“I’ll always be able to run on my own, but I won’t have the team,” Laris said. “That’s going to be the thing I miss the most.”