Fitzpatrick leading women’s cross country to glory
Michael Aporia – Special to the Southern News
In the midst of her final cross country season, senior Natasha Fitzpatrick has been flying her way to the finish line.
Fitzpatrick, a transfer student from Dominic College and an Australian native, said she was coming off of one of her best finishes since becoming an Owl. She finished second overall out of 300 competitors at the Paul Short invitational on Oct. 1.
“I had no idea how or what I was going to do in our seasons first 6k race,” said Fitzpatrick. “I ended up getting a new personal record.”
On top of that, Fitzpatrick also recorded a 10th place finish at the New England Championships in the 5k event with a time of 18:08.9 on Oct. 8. She credits much of her success to her training and coaching staff.
“The training this year is a lot more individualized,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s also one of the first seasons where both the men and women cross country teams practice together. It brings out the competition and drives you.”
Coach Brian Nill trains Fitzpatrick daily, and said that he only expects her to improve as the season progresses.
“I think moving forward she is going to get better and better,” said Nill. “Natasha has improved drastically since her first day.”
Senior teammate, Grace Gothers, said Fitzpatrick has an incredible work ethic and it shows during races.
“She is a tough competitor,” said Gothers. “She’s extremely determined and works hard, we see it paying off every time she’s out there.”
Additionally, Gothers said Fitzpatrick’s second place finish at the Paul Short Invitational has really impacted the morale of the entire team.
“Having such a great race really boosted the team,” said Gothers. “I think it was very important. We’re all really starting to work together.
The past summer, Fitzpatrick said she took a break from racing, and it has really paid dividends.
“I took the summer off for really the first time,” said Fitzpatrick. “I think that it really helped my body stay fresh.”
Although this is Fitzpatrick’s last season of eligibility for cross country, she’s still eligible for indoor track.
“We don’t even real have indoor track back at home. We never really need it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m sure glad it’s here though, because I don’t really love the cold.”
Now entering her second season running indoor track, Coach Nill said he expects Fitzpatrick to have more confidence and experience that she lacked in her first season.
“I think she struggled with amount of laps she had to run because she was used to running seven and a half laps outdoors, instead of 15 laps indoors,” said Nill. “Now that she has this year under her belt, it’s going to be seamless straight through.”
Nill holds his runners to high expectations. He said he anticipates Fitzpatrick to set new marks at SCSU.
“She’s a lot more fit now than at this point last year,” said Nill. “I’m looking to have her break the 3000-meter school record for indoors.”
The 3000-meter indoor track record is not the only school record Nill believes Fitzpatrick and his runners can break.
“As a group, I want to try to break the distance medley relay,” said Nill. “Natasha will be on that, Grace will be on that and two other girls as well.”
With only three meets left for cross country, Fitzpatrick said she is aiming to carry her success running outdoors to indoors.
“I just feel I am getting better after every practice and every race,” Fitzpatrick said.
The women’s cross country team’s next meet is scheduled for Oct. 22. There, Fitzpatrick will look to finish strong in another meet at the Northeast-10 Championships in Boston.
Photo Courtesy: SCSU Athletic Communications