After an injury kept him from training and racing last winter, Travis Katz dove into summer training more motivated than ever. Now, he holds the St. Clair County Community College men’s 8K cross country record.
“That setback was really what I needed. During that time I learned that I’m not just a runner,” Katz said. “Prior to that, I got discouraged after every bad race because I would just judge my performance by my time on the clock and not necessarily by outside stressors. I learned to value myself as a person rather than just the runner and that really helped.”
Katz, a sophomore at SC4 originally from Mayville, broke the school record of 26 minutes, 54.9 seconds previously held by Drew Mayes when he crossed the finish line in 26:37.3 at the Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria, Illinois, on Oct. 14.
“I knew I’d be faster, but I wasn’t expecting to progress as fast as I have,” Katz said.
Last fall, Katz finished his first college cross country season with a personal best of 28:45. He said he came into this season with the goal to run faster than 28 minutes, but he quickly achieved that in his first race with a time of 27:33.
“The bar just keeps getting lower which is nice to see, but [my goal] originally was sub-28,” Katz said. “Ever since the first race I was like, ‘OK, I’m not that far away,’ [from the school record], so the night before it was hard to get to seep and the day of I was really nervous, but once we got to the course, I was like, ‘It’s just running. I can only give my best effort.’”
Both he and head coach Andrea Rheaume credit his success this season to the “little things” and a healthier mindset.
“He put the miles in all summer long and he does the little things that he needs to do,” Rheaume said. “He takes care of his body. He’s in the training room, lifting twice a week, seeking advice from teammates and coaches, and has really just been dedicated this season and it shows.”
Katz would also say his teammates and the culture surrounding him in the sport have played a large role. He’s even working at the Elite Feet running store in Port Huron now and wants to further his athletic and academic careers at a four-year university to become a teacher and coach.
“The thing is, I have three other teammates who are knocking on the door to break [the school record], so that just goes to show how strong we are as a team which is really nice,” Katz said. “The culture and the team aspect is really growing.”
Freshman Ethan McCombs, a 2022 Croswell-Lexington graduate, also broke the school record and finished second to Katz last Friday with a time of 26:48.7.
“Being a freshman, sometimes that jump from 5k to 8k can be pretty tough, but Ethan is handling it pretty well,” Rheaume said.
And sophomores Lucas Danko, Brandon Zielke, and Ben Rodriguez each set seasonal or personal best records on Friday as well, finishing in 27:31.4, 27:31.6, and 27:53.6, respectively. Rheaume said there’s still more to come though.
“I think we still have more PRs coming from these guys. I don’t think this is their peak,” she said. “I think we’ll definitely see more at regionals and hopefully at nationals.”
The Skippers will race at the NJCAA Region XII Division II Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Oct. 29. The top three teams and 20 individuals will advance to the national championship.
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
To receive notifications about new stories from The Sports Report, subscribe for free.