Continuing the journey

Saranac Lake senior Sam Ash to run for Colgate

Saranac Lake senior Sam Ash, second from the far right, stands with his coaches Brad Varner, far left, Bill Peer and Cy Ellsworth at Saranac Lake High School on Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake High School distance runner Sam Ash still has a few more miles to run. But by this time next year, he’ll be running in maroon rather than red.

Ash, a senior, announced on Sunday his commitment to NCAA Division I Colgate University. He will be running for both the Colgate Raiders’ cross country and track and field teams.

“I really think that I will see the most personal improvement at Colgate and that is definitely a goal of mine, to keep getting better,” Ash said.

His announcement came just one day after he took third place overall out of 131 runners in the NYSPHSAA cross country championships boys’ Class C race at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School. His result tied him for the best all-time finish by an individual Saranac Lake boys’ cross country runner at the state meet.

Ash said a few other college coaches had reached out to him, but he ultimately chose Colgate because he enjoys the coach and his future team, which is made up of mostly sophomores and freshmen.

“I think that’s going to be a team to look out for in the next couple of years on the Division I level,” Ash said. “I think that it’ll be really fun to join an up-and-coming team and I hope to be a part of that.”

While his high school career hasn’t wrapped up quite yet, he’s brought Saranac Lake a lot of success. As a three-sport athlete, competing in cross country, Nordic skiing and track and field, Ash has won a sectional title in all three sports. As a freshman, he was also part of the Red Storm cross country team that won a state title in 2019.

“My freshman year was really fun because it was always amazing to see how it can go from best friends and teammates, joking around to the instant we wake up on race day, they are dialed in,” Ash said. “It’s something that we would call ‘race mode.’ It’s definitely taught me where the priorities are in sports, even though we are having fun and growing.”

As a junior on the track and field team, Ash was one of just two Saranac Lake High School students to qualify for the NYSPHSAA meet. He competed in two separate distance events, placing 28th overall in both.

For the past two seasons in cross country, Ash repeated as both the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference and the Section VII individual champion, while earning third place at the state meet two years in a row. In four years with the team, the boys’ program has lost just two CVAC dual meets, while winning more than 60 league races.

“Everything I’ve done over the past four years I can attribute to my teammates and especially my coaches,” Ash said. “Easily coming into my freshman year, my mom was a coach, but it was always like if I ran I would always run away and hide behind a rock so I didn’t have to run. I came in my freshman year and found a group of guys that loved the sport and that just rubbed off on me, I’ve been able to take that love, that discipline and that passion to grow within myself. Hopefully, I’ve been able to pass that on to future SL teammates.”

Ash isn’t the first Red Storm distance runner to compete at the next level. In recent years, Saranac Lake has produced a couple of Division I runners, some of which were teammates with Ash.

“It will be exciting. I’ll run into them every now and again, based off where we are racing,” Ash said. “They’ve been very influential in my high school process and they will continue to be very good friends of mine. That’ll be fun regardless even since we are not on the same team.”

Ash will officially join the Raiders next fall, and as of now, he hasn’t officially decided what he will major in. He said, however, that he would love to go into environmental studies or peace studies and conflict resolution.


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