By MONICA D'IPPOLITO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Breaking school records takes years of practice — one would think. But if you’re Kristie Pageau, taking five years off might even help you get better.
After not competing in track and field since her senior year at Saranac High School, Pageau is getting back on the track in her final year at Plattsburgh State.
While Pageau was on the Saranac team, the Chiefs won Section VII every year. She qualified for the state meet each year from 2003 to 2008 in indoor track, also setting four school records and one section benchmark.
She competed in the pentathlon at the state outdoor meet in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2007, she grabbed third place in the event. Pageau set six more school records and two section records in outdoor track.
But as much as she excelled at track, soccer was her main sport. While at Saranac, she recorded 35 goals and 21 assists. This led to her recruitment at Plattsburgh State, where she played on the women’s soccer team four of her five years.
Pageau admitted that track was always a sport she participated in on the side, in order to keep her in shape for soccer season. However, the thought of competing in track again was always in the back of her mind.
“I had always wanted to do it since freshman year; it was just always too much with school and soccer. I never found time,” Pageau said. “But I knew if I didn’t do it my last year, I would regret it. I had to give it a shot.”
Eventually Pageau did give track a shot, joining the Plattsburgh State team this year after completing her final season on the women’s soccer team.
Coach Nick Jones seemed to welcome Pageau with open arms, knowing of her athleticism and skill from high school. Even after five years away from the sport, Jones had no doubts about Pageau’s ability to find success on his team.
“Some of my good athletes come from Saranac High School. I knew the track and field head coach there at the time, and I asked him about her,” Jones said. “I knew she was a soccer star who also had a lot of success at track in high school. I just took a chance and asked her.”
According to Pageau, the transition from soccer to track wasn’t too difficult for her, but training for different events was something she had to adjust to.
“The running part wasn’t hard; I’ve always been in shape from soccer,” Pageau said. “I just need to get my form down.
“In high school I was trained more endurance-wise; I did a lot more distance workouts. Now I work on more explosive, power stuff. Working out different muscles has helped me build more of my speed than endurance, and I think that is more of the main components for multi-events.”
The new training regime seems to be working, as Pageau has been an excellent addition for Jones’ team. She placed sixth in the ECAC Indoor Championships in the pentathlon and sixth is the same event at the SUNYAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Although Pageau is besting her times from high school, she still feels as though she has a lot more work to do to get as comfortable as she once was for the Chiefs.
“I’m not where I used to be. Even after competing the last three months now, I feel like I got to put more time in to get back to where I was,” Pageau said.
“She is so super-focused,” Jones said. “She’s very quiet and listens. If I tell her to fix something, she can fix it right away.”
Entering the outdoor season, the goal on Pageau’s mind is to break the Plattsburgh State record for the heptathlon event, currently held by Leena Peters-Uitto and set back in 2008.
The heptathlon consists of combined point totals from the high jump, hurdles, long jump, shot put, javelin, 200 meters and 800 meters.
“The 200 meters and 800 meters are her strongest events, and from what I saw I think she’ll be able to pick up points in the javelin,” Jones said. “I think she’ll definitely break the record.”
Jones believes Pageau is capable of finishing in the top three at the ECAC outdoor meet and said that is what she should “shoot for.”
“She gets it done on the track and in the classroom. I wish she was running track the whole time I was here,” Jones said. “I really hope she gets that school record.”
As for Pageau, it sounds like her decision to get back into track and field has thus far been a good one.
“I don’t regret it one bit; I’m so happy,” Pageau said. “I met some great people, and I’m extremely glad I finally decided to do it.”