Nick Mcadam, Sports Editor
In a span of a month, cross country runner Kaitlyn Stinson has collected the Empire 8 Runner of the Week, qualified for play at the NCAA Championships and finished with Utica’s best ever time at the competition while finishing with becoming the Empire 8 Runner of the Year for the third year straight.
She still has one more year left with the Pioneers and with the health studies major. After school, she intends to focus on a career relating to physical therapy. Stinson is currently a fifth-year graduate student.
Throughout the course of her stint with Utica, Stinson has finished in a top-five position at a meet 57 times while notching a majority of her best times in the 2016 season.
According to Stinson, a majority of this success both recently and in her career has been due to her coaches, all of whom are understanding and willing to work with the players on the team.
“I have a very tight schedule and I don’t necessarily place cross country on the top of the priority list,” Stinson said. “My coaches have been more than accommodating to my schedule and have worked with me each day to get me where I am now.”
With the South Kortright native on the team, the Pioneers have been able to finish in the top five of the Empire 8 Championships since 2015, while winning the competition back-to-back in 2017 and 2018.
Stinson aims to have more fun with each race while getting prepared both physically and mentally for each competition she participates in. At times, her routine can get very stressful but rest and compliance from the coaches come as a critical element to her success.
“Probably the biggest focus right now is to just stay relaxed and have fun with it,” Stinson said. “It’s easy to let nerves get the best of you, especially when competing on your own with so many other talented athletes.”
This season, the Pioneers finished without a first-place finish but collected a second and fourth place tally at crosstown rivals SUNY Poly and at the Empire 8 Championships, respectively.
The team’s age is currently dominated by juniors, seniors and Stinson being the only graduate student, while five roster members are currently sophomore or first-year runners.
With the 2020 campaign on the horizon, Stinson has become even more thankful for those surrounding her, both on and off the field.
“Personally, having this opportunity to represent the school for the second year means a lot to me, especially as my last year competing,” she said. “I’m so grateful for everyone who has helped me along the way and it’s always nice to see all the hard work that is put in paying off.”
Aside from her running success, Stinson takes part in volunteer opportunities while working as a graduate assistant and attending school for her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. She said she wants more with her career but won’t pass up the opportunity to continue running going forward.
“After school, I intend to focus mostly on my career as a PT,” she said. “I don’t necessarily plan to continue running competitively aside from the occasional road race.”