Transfers could play big role for MU cross country
For newcomers, coming into the PSAC can be a tough adjustment.
The difference between high school running and the Division II level is a big one and it often takes runners some time to adjust to college cross country.
For Mansfield University, the transition for a pair of their runners might be a little easier.
Jacob Portock and Savannah Boucher may be newcomers to the Mountaineers, but they are not new to college running.
Portock was at St. Francis (Pa.) last year, while Boucher was a national champion at Mohawk Valley Community College.
Both runners are ready for their next challenge as they prepare to run for Mansfield this year.
"I'm really excited, it's been a while since I ran," Portock said.
Both of them are also runners who could make an impact for the Mountaineers this year.
"We ran a 10 miler today and everyone ran so well," Mansfield university junior standout Kristy Scordino said. "Savannah was running right up there behind us. She ran really well, it was impressive."
For Boucher, the competition at Mohawk Valley was very good. However, she was the person that the other runners were trying to catch.
Now, she will be pushing herself trying to catch Kristy and her twin sister Jess Scordino.
"When I went to that junior college it was my first experience with girls that could keep up," Boucher said. "Absolutely, this is a new situation, there are some really talented athletes here."
Coming in this year, Boucher knows she can't let having people in front of her bother her or throw her off the way she races.
"I have to know my own limits," Boucher said. "It's a nice goal to try and get up closer to them in the front."
Coming in Boucher knew there would be new challenges running in the PSAC this year, and she knew she would have teammates that would push her to be better runners.
"I have access to those results," she said. "I could see their results and the conference results and it gave me an idea of what to expect."
Last year Boucher did get a chance to run against some higher level competition at meets.
"My coach at junior college put us into four-year school meets," she said. "It gave me a chance to run against those kind of runners and it enabled coaches to see us against that competition."
She knows the challenges will be tougher this year, but that's also something she looks forward to.
"I'm excited for the higher level competition here, I'm excited to improve myself," she said. "It's going to be more pressure, but I kind of respond well to a lot of pressure. I have a lot of good girls to look up to here and we all help each other out."
For Portock, this season will be a bit of an adjustment. He is more of a track runner who runs cross country, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want to finish well this year.
"Cross country is not exactly my sport, but I hope to be able to keep up with the guys," he said.
Portock is a lot like Mike Robinson, the Mansfield senior who has been a cross country regular, but like Portock is a track standout in the 800 meters.
"Mike and I are very similar," Portock said. "We both were in the same conference before we transferred here, we are 800 runners. It's kind of nice to know if it can happen for him, it can happen for you."
Robinson used cross country to his advantage. He made himself a stronger, better, runner during his Mansfield career and is now one of the top 800 runners in the country.
Portock hopes the same thing can happen for him.
"It gives you confidence knowing that coach (Mike Rohl) has a blueprint," Portock said. "You know that he did this and it worked so if things go right, it should work for you to."
Portock has always been in a situation where there were other good runners around to learn from and he's excited to learn from Robinson this year.
"It is exciting," he said. "I always have loved that. Back in high school me and my one teammate we were two of the best in the league and the state and we pushed each other. It's good to have someone equal or better than you to train with and to push you and make you better."
While cross country may not be his number one sport, Portock is like Boucher in that he likes the pressure of a race.
He knows that once he gets into a meet, he is not going to want to be beat and he hopes that will push him to some big finishes this year.
"Even though cross country is not my sport, I'm going to do the best I can to help us out," he said. "I hope that I can beat one or two of them and help to make everyone else better.
"I'm competitive, if I see someone in front of me, I want to win and I'm going to go hard."