Brady Boie – Staff Writer
Senior cross-country runner Andrew Stumbo is known for finishing his races strong. And much like how he finishes his races, Stumbo finished his running career at Gustavus with an impressive performance. As he took the field in Louisville, Kentucky to represent the Gusties one last time at the Division III national championships, Stumbo was experiencing an array of emotions. After having a disappointing showing at the MIAC championships, Stumbo was determined to redeem himself and represent his team in the best way he could
“You know, MIACs was a rough day for the team as a whole. We ran it to win it and paid for it in the second half of the race. Personally, it was probably my worst race of the season. I took from it a bit of fire that I’d been missing this last year or two of cross country and really let myself be willing to hurt at regions and nationals if it meant I ran quickly,” Stumbo said.
Stumbo started off the race hot, clocking in at 3:06 for his first kilometer. He then settled into his pace and focused on executing his race plan.
“(Going out fast) was pretty much the strategy! I was hoping for an All-American finish, and I knew to do that, I couldn’t get buried behind 200 other people, because there’s only so much make-up you can do over the course of an 8k,” Stumbo said.
Stumbo kept up this blistering pace and ran with great passion. As he passed the 3k mark, Stumbo’s timer read 9:13.9. Even though the race wasn’t halfway over, Stumbo knew that he was within striking distance of achieving one of his lifelong goals of breaking 25 minutes in the 8 kilometer race. Even with this excitement growing in the back of his mind, Stumbo maintained his composure and did his best to stay in the moment.
“I repeated “It’s okay to hurt” and “this is your last race as a Gustie” to myself probably a thousand times each just to desperately remind myself that I was tough enough to hurt during the race and run fast anyway…I’m not used to running in the middle of a huge pack, and all the nationals race is just one huge pack. That was the toughest part to stay calm about,” Stumbo said.
As the race wore on, Stumbo found a way to dig deep and hold onto his current pace. His 5k split of 15:43.5 gave him a good shot at finishing his career as an All-American. He pressed on and gave everything that he had. He crossed the finish line with a time of 24:55.5. As one would expect, Stumbo became emotional after the race.
“Knowing that that was the end of my collegiate running career was really hard to accept and a few tears were definitely shed. At the same time, it was also a little relieving,” Stumbo said.
Stumbo’s time placed him in the top half of all runners at nationals and was a personal best. More impressively, his finish was the third fastest time in Gustavus program history and solidified Stumbo’s place on Gustavus’s cross-country Mount Rushmore. Stumbo is the first runner in program history to earn All-Conference honors in all four years and joined elite company by competing in nationals three of the four.
“He’s going to go down as one of the best runners in program history,” head coach Brenden Huber said.
Coach Huber was especially proud of Stumbo’s performance given the challenges that Stumbo had to face this year. Stumbo plans on becoming a teacher after college, and student-teaching often prevented him from training with the team.
“He ran a really strong race… We were managing new things this year… working through those new stressors was difficult. When we look back at what he actually accomplished, we were very happy with that,” Huber said.
All things considered, Stumbo ended his stellar career on a high note. He handled the season’s adversity with ease and took everything that happened to him in stride. Stumbo plans to keep his competitive juices flowing by picking up either rock climbing or weightlifting after the academic year draws to a close.