According to Coach Ryan Chapman, Sam Pinkowski has already achieved a high level of success. He’s led the boys cross country team to two team titles and one runner-up finish, won the Dan Huston Invite, finished twice as an individual runner-up and was named the IIAC runner of the week this past week.
Pinkowski, a first-year from La Crosse, Wisconsin, was recruited by Luther and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities before committing to Wartburg to continue his cross country and track careers.
“The thing about Wartburg is that the atmosphere, facilities and coaching was really where I was going to develop into the best runner I thought I could be,” Pinkowski said.
Pinkowski has already set a high bar for himself. Not only does he want to finish in the top ten at Nationals and be an All-American this year, he wants to be a National Champion before graduating. Following college, Pinkowski wants to make the world championship team.
Coach Chapman believes all of these goals are attainable for Pinkowski.
“If Sam continues to improve at the same trajectory, if he trains with the same intentionality, the same purpose, there will be many National Champion and All-American medals in his closet,” Chapman said. “I really think the sky is the limit.”
Chapman said Pinkowski’s competitive mindset and coachable attitude make him a pleasure to train. However, Pinkowski credits his success to the team’s chemistry and competitive attitude; especially the influence of veteran runner Eli Kaczinski.
“I’ve had some really great training partners this year, especially in Eli Kaczinski,” Pinkowski said. “It’s really helped push me in workouts, push me in races. The older guys are definitely helping me feel the atmosphere and, as role models, see how I can follow what they’re doing to be better.”
After beating All-American Mason Tope of Loras at the Dan Huston Invite, both Pinkowski and Chapman are eager to see the best competition in the nation. Chapman is especially excited to see where Pinkowski stacks up against other All-Americans.
“Sometimes you have to either get beat or find yourself in an adverse situation to get better,” Chapman said. “You definitely have to find yourself running against others that are better than you before you find what you’re made of.”
Even with all his individual successes, Pinkowski has high hopes for the team. While the team’s goal is to be top ten in the nation this year, they’re already looking farther ahead to bigger and better things.
“We want to be National Champions,” Pinkowski said. “That’s our ultimate goal.”