Zach Thomann, Assistant Sports Editor
Senior, Erik Winberg, stepped on the cross country course for the last time at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J. He’d been training up to this race for four years at Utica, and this was his chance to finish strong at the Division III Atlantic Regional event.
After a consistent season according to head cross country coach Eric Parker, Winberg went above and beyond expectations for his last race finishing 46th out of 303 participants and setting a new school record of 25:38.9 in the 8k.
“This is a new era,” Winberg said referring to Utica College. “We have been improving every year, and I’m fortunate to have all my hard work come together for the last race.”
Winberg set his own personal record by 30 seconds with an average mile time of 5:09 according to the Utica College website.
In his first year as head coach, Parker has implemented a new style of training, which has focused on making runners more consistent. He praised the efforts that Winberg has made as one of the few upperclassmen to lead the rest of the team by example.
As a native of Rome, N.Y, Winberg is one of many local runners who Utica has on their cross-country roster. He believes that his yearlong training regimen has benefitted from being close to home, especially in his first year as a physical therapy graduate student.
At the start of the season, Winberg was forced to make a priority list that he stays true to.
“Schoolwork comes first,” Winberg said. “You fit in practice when you can.”
The coaching staff understands that schoolwork is more important than cross-country and have been very flexible with the athletes.
Having a concise schedule is impossible with how busy Winberg is, but that doesn’t stop him from training six days a week. It also doesn’t keep him from being a mid-distance runner for the track team as well.
After a successful cross-country season, Winberg wasted no time to start training for track. He competes in events like the 800m and enjoys the change in how he trains. Winberg relishes his performance at regionals, but knows his time, as an athlete isn’t over.
Although Winberg is on to the next season, coach Parker has one last thing to take care of from the cross-country season. In his office are six framed pictures with the best times for men and women’s running events in Utica history. Winberg’s name is due to be at the top of the list for the men’s 8k event.
“We change our records at the end of each season,” Parker said. “But we haven’t forgotten about that.”