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Guest Blog: Track and cross country star Jillian Putney’s experience at the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships Sports

Junior Jillian Putney, a member of the RIT women’s cross country and track and field teams, is this week’s guest blogger. Putney, who works in our office, had told us she was going to be traveling to Ohio to support her teammates as they ran at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last weekend. We discussed the possibility of her blogging the scene at the championships, and she was more than happy to oblige. I think you will see that it was definitely a good weekend for the group, no matter the results. Enjoy and have a great Thanksgiving break. Hopefully everyone rests up and is able to kick back and relax this week.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jillian Putney and I’m a third year new media marketing major. I’m on the RIT women’s cross country and track and field teams, and also work in the Sports Information Office. Since our team is practically a family, a group of us left Rochester on Friday, Nov. 20, and ventured to Cleveland to cheer on the men’s team and one of the girls, Jouhan “Jojo” Allende, who qualified for the NCAA Championships, and would race the next day.

If there’s one word to describe our team, it would be cheap. We love free stuff and try getting as much as possible for the least amount of money. Originally, we were planning on camping at the actual golf course where the meet was being held, but we decided that we didn’t want to risk being arrested and found a state park nearby to camp in. There were about 20 of us camping and two cars started out ahead to set up but left us “directions to get there.” My car went a little later and it consisted of Alex Bush, Arielle Januszkiewicz, Abby Arday and Zack Loughery. There were two sets of directions printed out together but we were never informed so we just typed in the first address and wound up at the golf course confused. We called Bill Doll who arranged everything and he told us about the second location. Well, let’s just say we would have been better off staying at the golf course. We put the second address into Alex’s tom-tom and wound up in the projects of Cleveland (a legitimately scary ghetto). We ended up having to turn around at an Auto Zone with bars over all of the windows.

After making a few phones calls we finally got the name of the park (it’s Punderson not Tunderson, which we were originally told). Thankfully, by the time we got there the rest of our group had pretty much everything set up for us and were grilling burgers and hot dogs, and roasting marshmallows over a fire. It was so nice to be camping; everyone just relaxed after a stressful week of finals. Even some alumni came to camp with us, including Matt Joseph and Sarah Boles.

The next morning we got up around 8 a.m. and made some bacon, a staple in our team’s diet. We then proceeded to head to the course and prep for some intense cheering for the meet, which would start at 11 a.m.. Most of the guys went shirtless and painted their chests. Matt Joseph and Jon Sealander repped the T and S on their backs and ran up next the some of the St. Lawrence fans who were conveniently wearing capes that said “SLU” on them. We also ruined their chant by chanting “T-S” after they would chant “S-L-U.” Nicole Varble also wore a Ritchie costume while Alex Bush and Arielle Januszkiewicz wore old cheerleading costumes. There were a lot of other teams who were dressed in crazy outfits as well, including bananas and Trojan warriors.

Since I’ve been running I’ve easily been to hundreds of meets and this has been by far the most intense meet. RIT is pretty much the opposite of a jock school, and hockey games are the only sport that really has fans that get into their cheering, but I would say that we easily could have competed with the corner crew. As soon as the runners passed spectators at the start, every person just sprinted in every direction to get to another spot along the course to cheer on the runners. I’m sure that the runners couldn’t even hear what we were cheering because everyone was getting so into it that it was just a giant tunnel of screaming and arm throwing.

Although our team did not perform up to expectations and there weren’t really any surprising exceptional performances, it was definitely worth the trip. It is so exciting to see your team work so hard and have it pay off. Proud would be an understatement for how you feel about seeing those you run with and consider close friends succeed in something we all consider a passion. All in all it was a great experience, and all I can say is go RFXC!


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