Maine-Endwell senior Larissa Plaskon’s 12th-place finish at Thursday’s Section 4 cross country championships might not seem noteworthy. She finished almost 2½ minutes behind the winner, but that she raced at all is a tremendous feat in its own right.
Plaskon had been dealing with soreness in her leg for about two weeks prior to the sectional race. Her coach, Mike Cordi, gave her the option to sit out the race, but that was not going to happen. Plaskon had her eyes on the race all season, so there was no way she would sit it out.
Normally, she would not be as pleased finishing 12th, but two things changed the circumstances: first, Maine-Endwell won the Section 4 Class B title, and secondly, it was discovered that the pain Plaskon had in her leg was a stress fracture in her femur.
“I didn’t think my injury was as bad as it is,” Plaskon said. “I thought I just had tendonitis or something. And I just couldn’t imagine not running in sectionals.”
Plaskon actually sealed the victory for the Spartans. Cordi said her performance in the final 100 meters of the race turned the tide.
“For Larissa, there was never a question whether or not she was going to run,” Cordi said. “And to tell you the truth, if she didn’t run or if she dropped out, we would have lost by two points.”
Plaskon said before the race she felt fine, but once she reached the third mile of the race, the pain started to kick in.
“I was really scared,” Plaskon said. There wasn’t really much I could do at that point, so I was hoping all of the other girls were getting up there.”
During that final stretch when Plaskon was able to hold off the competition, Cordi said he yelled out to her and told her that M-E was going to lose if anyone was to pass her.
“I kind of felt bad saying it. She was in pain at that point,” Cordi said. “And at that point we were losing, and it was the last 100 meters and it went from 42-46 for Vestal, to 42-46 for us down that homestretch.”
When she finally crossed the finish line, she did not know her team had won. In fact, she thought the opposite.
“I started crying during the race because I thought we were going to lose because of me,” Plaskon said. “Then we were just so relived and happy because the goal every year is to win sectionals as a team.”
Although she knew something was wrong during the race, Plaskon said it was afterwards when she realized the extent of her injury.
“One of my teammates was telling us all to get our warmups on, and I couldn’t really lift up my leg to get my pants back on, so that’s how I knew something was wrong,” Plaskon said.
Plaskon is upset she will not be able to compete at the state race this weekend at SUNY Canton, but she is happy knowing she played a big role in getting her team there.
“I’m sad about it, obviously, but it’s OK because when I told the girl who is an alternate, she was so happy about it,” Plaskon said. “I couldn’t imagine letting my team down. We’ve all worked together the whole season to get to this point.”
Thursday’s race may be the final one of Plaskon’s competitive running career, as she does not plan on joining a cross country team in college. But if it is the end, she is going out happy with the final results.
“I think it was a great season,” Plaskon said. We have a great team and we’re just like a family. Everyone takes care of each other.”
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