Cross country races don't start at the sound of the gun. Eating right, sleeping right and training right leading up to the race is just as important as what goes on at the course.
Orchard Park's Cal Puskar seems to have the routine down pat, and he's letting it show on race day. The senior won the large schools division race at the 23rd West Seneca Cross Country Invitational at Sunshine Park last Saturday, running the fastest time amongst all boys in 16:03.36, as the Quakers also took the team title.
For his accomplishments, Puskar has been named the Prep Talk Male Athlete of the Week.
How has your season gone so far?: My season has been very consistent and I have performed well. I have won three large invitationals so far this season, ran great at the McQuaid Invitational and placed well against some great competition throughout the state. Our team is doing pretty well. We have a young group of guys looking to have a shot at winning the Class A title if we have a good day.
Highlight of athletic career so far: Last year's Section VI State Qualifier 4x800 relay where I anchored and beat out Lockport by a tenth of a second to win and go to states with my close teammates. It was a nail-biting finish but we came through and claimed the title.
Favorite thing about my sport: My favorite part of running competitively is hitting good marks and getting some glory and gear from it at the end of the day.
Favorite teammate: I don't just have one favorite teammate, but through these years, Aidan Winiewicz, Matthew Mercer, Thomas Flannery and Mike Totaro have been the best teammates I could ask for. They pushed me all the time and made me take the sport serious, and I don't know how I would be today if they hadn't guided me in the right direction.
Toughest opponent: I can easily say Ian Russ from East Aurora is my toughest opponent. From modified on he has always given me a challenge in cross country and track. He beats me and I beat him, it's back and forth but I think that it's awesome that we compete in the section while being at the top of the state leaderboard. I find that quite unique.
WNY Athlete I looked up to: The athlete I've looked up to the most is former Orchard Park runner Peter Meindl, who is arguably the best runner ever from Western New York. Since he is a Quaker as well, I like to chase after the legacy he left and be up there with some of the best.
Pro/college athlete I admire now: If I had one pro athlete I admire, it would be Roger Bannister. He set the bar for the world in the sport of running. He broke 4 minutes in the mile, which was a feat that no one even thought was possible.
Favorite school subject: I really enjoy art because I have fun with it and create something of my own with little guidance.
What’s ahead (athletics and/or academics): As of now, I'm taking official visits to Division I schools and I have championship season coming up soon. I want to leave a big mark at states and regionals.