While some college students were spending their final days of summer vacation at the beach, Pottsville’s Paige Stoner, a senior cross country runner at Syracuse University, spent her August mornings and afternoons grinding out 70-mile weeks.
On the weekends she would toss in her weekly long run, a distance of 18 miles, in preparation for a season of high expectations.
After a successful track season, in which she placed 15th in the steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, for her 2017 cross country season, Stoner and her coaches, Chris Fox and Brian Bell, had mapped out an aggressive training plan that they hoped would maximize her extraordinary running skills.
Her season began with an invitational meet at Penn State. Still logging long, intense miles during the building block phase of her training, she placed second at the 6K distance.
Building speed and strength for races against the best runners in the country centered around workouts on Sweet Road, a challenging incline near the Syracuse campus. A typical workout would consist of a 4 to 5 mile run, with four minutes of hard running, followed by a short rest before beginning another four-minute interval. As the sessions neared their end, Coach Fox instructed Stoner to run at all-out race pace for the final four minutes.
Stoner’s next meet was held in Boston where she placed 24th, in a race that included many of the runners she would face at nationals.
On Oct. 28, Stoner ran the Atlantic Coast Conference championship meet in Louisville, Kentucky.
Her coach instructed her to, “Be patient, hang with the leaders, and don’t make a move until you have about 800 meters to go.”
She ran most of the race in a pack with four North Carolina State runners and a runner from Louisville. At the 4K mark, the race came down to Stoner and her Louisville adversary. With 300 meters to go, the Louisville runner surged into the lead, but Stoner responded, passing her with 100 meters to go and winning the ACC cross country championship with an extraordinary time of 19:52 on the 6K course. She finished a mere three seconds ahead of her opponent.
At the Northeast Regionals, held in Buffalo, New York, Stoner braved 20-degree temperatures and 30-mile-per-hour winds to place second and qualify for nationals.
A week later at the NCAA Championships held in Louisville, Kentucky, Paige Stoner, from Pottsville, Pennsylvania, faced the best collegiate runners in the nation and placed 17th, earning All-America honors.
Stoner is an exceptional runner and an excellent student. More than that, she is a humble young lady who, when asked what advice she would give to young runners who want to run like Paige Stoner, replied, “Don’t overdo it in high school. Run 30 to 35 miles a week, and keep it fun. Do other things. Swim and play Frisbee.”
We haven’t heard the last of Stoner. Track season is coming up in 2018, and she has another year of track eligibility in 2019.
Oh, and the next Summer Olympic Games will be held in 2020.