It has been quite the senior cross country season for Patrick Anderson. The senior from Mount Lebanon went undefeated during a record-setting fall on the trails that culminated with a tremendous course record performance at the PIAA State Championships to win his second straight state crown. It capped off an undefeated season.
The UNC commit takes us through his senior season, including overcoming an injury, balancing a racing schedule with official college visits, and his thoughts on each race and victory. Next up is Foot Locker Northeast, where he'll look to earn a return trip to Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego.
Check out Anderson's latest entry below.
Hello again! It's been a busy fall, and I haven't gotten around to writing a journal since the first one. In this entry I'm going to recap my exciting season and recruiting process! With all that was going on, it felt like the season flew by way too fast. It's sad to think about my last year of high school cross country coming to a close, but I think it's safe to say it has been the best one yet!
Looking back on the beginning of the season, I think I really surprised myself in many ways. In August, I had patellar tendinitis and was in pain for several weeks. I was worried about the season starting and how it would affect my performance. I began physical therapy and continued it for several weeks. At the same time, I was starting my official visits and the stress of the recruiting process was also beginning to set in. I took my first official visit to Miami of Ohio the weekend before school started and I enjoyed my time there. That week, I was preparing for my first race at Cal U. Despite the pain I had dealt with in my knees, I came away with a win and a course record. This race gave me confidence and I knew that I was in much better shape than last year even though I had been running less mileage while I was hurt. After that race, I flew down to Winston-Salem for my second official visit at Wake Forest. I stayed there through Monday and then got back to train for Red, White & Blue that coming weekend. Going into the race, I knew it would be the first time I saw a lot of the top WPIAL talent and knew I needed to perform well. This was the first week that my knee pain had decreased significantly. Winning that race boosted my confidence even more, and our team came away with the win. It was an exciting day, and I rushed to the airport straight from the course to go on my third official visit at Duke.
I really enjoyed my time at Duke and was there until Monday. With my hectic schedule, I decided not to race at Boardman the following weekend and took my fourth visit to Virginia. It was a similar schedule to my previous visits, and I got home late the next Monday night. I had been worrying about the timing because we had our only home meet the following Tuesday and I really wanted to go after the course record. The race started off well, but I took a hard fall on a rocky hill and then was run into by another runner going the opposite direction and so the rest of the race didn't go as planned. I struggled to push the pace and fell short of the record. Because it was my only shot at it, I was pretty disappointed and angry about how it turned out. I looked to the future though and decided there were bigger things to focus on.
I ran at the Foundation meet that Saturday and came away with another win. It was an extremely hot day, and I managed to run a faster time than I had run to win the state title on the same course last fall. I was happy with the race and how my running season was starting! The recruiting process wasn't going the same way, however. I hadn't felt things coming together with a prospective college program yet. While I was getting a lot of accolades and interest from coaches, these were not translating into a fit for me. My family and I decided perhaps we needed to expand my college search. So after my race at Hershey, we headed straight to Lehigh for an unofficial visit there.
While visiting so many universities, missing days at school and training, and trying to stay healthy for races, I was exhausted. I was able to keep my excitement, however, because I had my last visit coming up the next weekend. I was really looking forward to this visit. I didn't have a race so I flew down to Chapel Hill on Thursday morning for my visit. I had been to UNC last spring and was very excited and optimistic about this visit going in, and it blew away my expectations. From the moment I met the team and coaches, I knew I liked the atmosphere. During my two days there, I bonded with the team and it felt like a family. People had told me that some place would click for me and I would know it's where I wanted to be, and this was it. I hadn't felt like that on any other visit, and I knew Chapel Hill was where I wanted to be. The following week, Coach Milt gave me a great offer and I verbally committed. I had been worried and stressed about things working out during the previous weeks, but I tried to remain hopeful that things would work out. They worked out better than I had hoped, and I was so thrilled about my decision! I think being a part of Coach Milt's first recruiting class there is going to be something special and I'm really excited about the future there!
The following week I was getting ready for our annual trip to Ohio. Coach A takes us to The Legends meet because it is our only chance to run on a flat course. I hadn't run any extremely fast times up to that point, but I thought I was in shape to run low 15s or possibly go under 15:00. After the first half of the race, I was on my own and was racing against the clock. I ended up running a big PR of 15:09, but I felt like I could have pushed harder. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get under 15:00, but I was happy with a PR.
Our varsity team took the next two weeks to train and get ready for the remaining meets in the season. On October 17, we went back to Cal U for the TSTCA meet or as some call it "pre-WPIALS". I bettered my own course record and felt great about my performance. I was ready to do it again the next week.
The WPIAL meet was the very next Thursday, and it was a much warmer day. The course was muddy, and I was ready to go. I took the race out just as I had planned and came away with my first WPIAL cross country title and broke my course record for the third time in the season! This was one of my goals last year, but last year the race hadn't gone as planned. I was really glad to finally mark this off my goal sheet.
Another one of my goals from the beginning of the season was to go undefeated in the state of Pennsylvania. The only thing standing in the way was defending the state title. The week going into the state meet I was constantly thinking about the race. I visualized the course and all of the possible outcomes over and over. I credit my mental strength for much of my success, and I had already decided that I wasn't going to lose. Come race day, I toed the line just as I had all season long, and I got ready to make it my race. I led from the start and felt comfortable throughout the whole race. The adrenaline carried me through the last mile and I continued to pick up the pace. It was an amazing feeling to come down that final straightaway for the last time. As I neared the finish line, I looked up and saw that I had broken the course record. Because of how muddy it was, this hadn't even been on my mind. To defend my title and break the record was something special. I had my whole family and lots of friends there, and I couldn't have imagined a better day!
I took the next few days easy, and then it was back to training. I'm excited to be going back to Foot Locker regionals in New York and to race against the best guys in the region. I was very blessed to make it to nationals last year, but it wasn't the experience I had hoped for. I had to leave my family behind after one of the hardest weeks of my life with my grandpa in the hospital suffering from a traumatic brain bleed. I found out about his passing the night before the race, and toeing the line the next day was a challenge in itself. I wasn't able to run the race I knew I was capable of and I know I have a lot to prove this year. I think I belong with the best guys in the country, and I'm setting out to prove it. I'm ready to get back to nationals to run the race that I know I can.