WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. — It was a Thanksgiving weekend multiple choice question that a handful of Long Island runners have to answer every year.
A) Run incredibly well at Nike Cross Regionals, qualify for Nike Cross Nationals, and extend your season into the first week of December.
B) Give a valiant effort, but fall short and start resting for the indoor season.
Seaford’s Jason Linzer was fine with either answer. Sure, who wouldn’t want to go to Portland, Oregon and compete with the best runners in the country at Nike Cross Nationals? But, after running five high pressure races in five weeks, a break sounded pretty good too.
The cross country dice came up with choice B for Linzer. He’ll get to rest up for the indoor season after finishing 13th in the New York race in 16 minutes, 34.5 seconds on the 5-kilometer Bowdoin Park course Saturday afternoon, falling short of qualifying for the national meet, Saturday at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon. Linzer was the fastest Long Islander in the boys race. Fayetteville Manlius’ Peyton Geehrer won in 15:47.1.
“I’m excited to take a break,” said Linzer, a senior who is committed to run at Stony Brook next year. “…A break for me will be a week to two weeks off and, at most, run very easy every other day. But I bet half of those days, I won’t even run at all.”
No one would blame Linzer for taking a few weeks off. He just completed the rare state postseason trifecta. That is, running at the state public school and Federation championships, followed by Nike Cross Regionals. Most runners who believe they have a shot to qualify for the national meet forego the Federation meet in favor of resting their legs.
Not Linzer. He placed 14th in 16:39.1 at the Federation championship last Saturday, giving him a chance to test out the Bowdoin Park course before regionals. And he’s glad he did.
“I think they’re pros and cons to both paths, but I think what I did was good because I had the wrong race strategy going in (to the Federation championships),” Linzer said. “I think [I went] too hard in the beginning at feds. It was better to do that then, than do that now and end my season on a bad note. I got to do a little bit of a trial run and make some mistakes and, today, improve on those mistakes. It was worth it.”
Linzer said he was too aggressive early last weekend. This week, he let the race unfold before he made any big commitments.
“I kept it in my mind to stay cool, stay relaxed, and if people pass me on the uphill, [it was] OK,” he said. “When I hit downhill section of the course, that’s when I knew it was go time. I had to make this one count, [my] last one ever in high school cross country.”