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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 8, 2011

Robinson: Runner on the rise

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– As the only runner in a family of five, Jenna Robinson likes to do her own thing. About four weeks ago, Robinson woke up and ran 13 miles. She planned on just five, but kept going because it made her feel great.

“My family will ask me why I run so much,” said Robinson, Guilderland’s best cross-country runner as a sophomore. “Sometimes, my dad doesn’t even want to drive that far.”

For the second straight season, Robinson qualified for both the State Meet and the Federation Meet, which combines the top runners in every class from around New York State. She holds the Federation course record for the Dutch at 19:24, having set the mark last year.

Also, Robinson has ran the fourth fastest race in Guilderland history at Saratoga State Park with a time of 18:04, 18 seconds behind record holder Chrissy Smith, who set the bar in 1985. Robinson is just ahead of Samantha Dow, who is currently a senior captain with the Virginia Tech cross-country team.

“I consider all these girls the royalty of Guilderland running,” said Head Coach Dave Kosier as he glanced at the list that had names like Cheryl Norris (17:52, 1998) and Megan Lynch (18:02, 2001). “Jenna’s right there with them and she’s only going to get better.”

Robinson finished first for the Lady Dutch in every race this season but twice. She’s eyeing that Saratoga State Park record, among others.

“I’m pretty happy with how I’m doing,” Robinson said this week. “The better I do, the more it helps my team. I started trying a lot harder when I realized that I was running well. I feel accomplished.”

On the mud-infested course at States this year, Robinson fell, tweaking her ankle. The resulting time wasn’t very good, but she rebounded the following week at the Federation, placing 47th out of 257 participants. Kosier wasn’t sure if it sank in right away.

“I think she acted a little disappointed, but it was a phenomenal time,” Kosier said. “Just being able to run in that race is impressive.”

In season, Robinson, like the others on her team, runs about 40 miles per week. The daily pattern is go to school, run cross-country, do homework, and sleep.  Sometimes, she’ll bike or swim. She does indoor track and downhill skiing in the winter and plays lacrosse in the spring. Robinson likes cooler weather, not liking to deal with running in the heat.

“Running is all about the time you put into it,” said Robinson. “You have to eat right, get enough sleep, and prepare yourself mentally. You have to push yourself, know yourself, and know that you can do whatever it is you have to do.”

Cross-country has a level playing field. Everyone runs the same race.

“You set goals and reach them,” Robinson said. “You can’t get that from anything else. All that work goes into that one moment.”

Robinson runs six or seven days a week. Does she get tired?

“I know my limits. I just know,” said Robinson. “My body tells me when to take it easy. I listen to what my body is saying.”

Robinson knows how to take challenges in stride. Ever since she was in the first grade, Robinson has been unable to grow hair on her head. It’s due to an autoimmune disease called Alopecia, which her aunt and grandmother had, too. “My body thinks hair is a germ, so it attacks it,” she said.

After dealing with Alopecia for so long, it’s no longer an issue for Robinson. She knows that there’s nothing she can do about it. She owns an assortment of bandanas, wearing one every day.

“I always know where she is during the race,” Kosier quipped.

“I don’t have to worry about doing my hair every morning,” said Robinson. “I have all different types of bandanas. Hundreds.”

Robinson’s interests are far-ranging. Her favorite subject is science, especially biology –– she loves animals. Her favorite animal is the koala bear. “I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but we’ll see what happens,” she said.

Having taken piano lessons for seven years, Robinson is classically trained, but she’s playing more pop music lately. “I don’t write my own songs,” she said.

Robinson told The Enterprise that sometimes she wishes a cross-country race were longer. Kosier said that she’s relatively composed after the 3.1-mile race, not looking like she exerted herself too much.

“She’s amazing,” Kosier said. “It’s so comfortable for her.”

“I do get tired,” said Robinson, “but I won’t ever collapse or get sick.”

Guilderland probably hasn’t seen Robinson’s best race yet. With two more years left in school, she has plenty more distance to run.

“I feel lazy if I don’t run,” she said, concluding, “I just wake up and go outside. I don’t care about the cold, but it can get tricky with the snow.”

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