When Lindsay Szuch was a freshmand at Frank Scott Bunnell High School in Stratford, Connecticut her parents made her join the cross country team to become more social. Now a senior at Keene State College, Szuch is racking up personal records and praise from her peers.
“My mom forced me to join because I didn’t know anyone going into my high school. It was a really large public school,” Szuch said. “She told me that I had to do it for at least two weeks and… make some friends and then I’m allowed to quit.”
Szuch continued to say that she loved the team and the environment, and that the sport was a perfect fit. A perfect fit is an understatement, as Szuch has been earning her stripes as a runner at the high school and college levels.
Just last season, Szuch placed fourth overall at the Little East Conference (LEC) Championships and earned a spot at nationals, where she finished 172 out of 280. The success hasn’t stopped there, as Szuch was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) New England Women’s Runner of the Week on Oct. 5.
The recognition doesn’t end there. Szuch has been named ECAC New England Women’s Runner of the Week twice now and has been named LEC Runner of the Week three times. On Oct. 1, Szuch finished first overall in the Keene State College Invitational.
Szuch said placing first at the KSC Invitational was “a really big deal.”
“It’s our home course. It’s the last time I’m ever going to run it, so that was a really big thing,” Szuch said.
While the accolades are encouraging, Szuch said she doesn’t pay much attention to them. However, she did say being able to run at the National Championships in 2016 was “a huge honor.”
Head Coach Tom Pickering said Szuch is a very results-driven person in the sense that her performance is most important as opposed to awards or titles. Pickering added that Szuch focuses on personal goal-setting as well.
“I know that she knows that the most important races come in the postseason,” Pickering said. “I think she would like to have success both at regionals and potentially nationals.”
Szuch, along with her teammates and coach, agree that her positivity is largely what drives her to success.
“She’s always positive, she just has a great mindset,” said Lauren Perkowski, a first-year on the KSC cross country team.
Positivity is important, but it certainly isn’t the only reason for Szuch’s success at the collegiate level. Szuch said that she’s been lucky to be surrounded by great role models, dating all the way back to her time as a runner in high school.
“I’ve always had, in high school and here, amazing girls to look up to. They always push me to do my best. They’re always there to help, no matter what they can do,” Szuch said.
As far as coaching goes, Szuch once again said she felt lucky to have had the coaches she has had at the high school and collegiate levels.
“Each coach has brought in their own something to the team and I really think I’ve learned and grown from that,” Szuch said.
Pickering said that feeling is a two-way street.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Lindsay for two and a half years now as her primary distance coach,” Pickering said.
Pickering also said that in addition to her positive attitude, Szuch acts as a leader amongst the group in more ways than one.
“She definitely leads by example, and that’s perhaps the strongest type of leadership that she offers to the rest of the team,” Pickering said, “but she has gradually become more comfortable with being a more vocal leader as well.”
Pickering added that Szuch wasn’t always a vocal leader, but has grown into that role in her time at KSC. He said that her continued growth will help her maintain success down the stretch in her senior season.
However, both Szuch and Perkowski agreed that Szuch’s maintained positivity is what will help her succeed as she works through her senior season.
“It’s so easy to be negative,” Perkowski said, “but if she just keeps doing what she’s doing, I think she’ll get wherever she wants to go.”
Crae Messer can be contacted at Cmesser@kscequinox.com