Next fall, the number of varsity teams that St. Mary’s sponsors will reach 17, as a new varsity cross-country team is added into the mix.
Director of Athletics and Recreation Scott Devine said that this addition has been on the agenda for some time now. There has been considerable interest from prospective students, the sport is fairly easy to start up, and there is great potential to attract exceptional student-athletes to the college. “The beautiful area that the College is situated combined with the numerous trails nearby make this ideal for the sport to grow and flourish,” said Devine. “The Capital Athletic Conference is happy to see us add the sport as well because SMCM will strengthen the conference and the conference championships in cross country.”
The department plans to hire a part-time coach in the coming months to begin building up a team and to start the process of recruiting potential athletes. The plan is to begin with a team consisting mainly of club runners and to incorporate new runners each year. Devine said, “We will start in the fall with a good base of runners who are already here and then add to it over the next few years as the new coach works to recruit talented cross country athletes from around the state and the region.”
Assistant Athletic Director Shawne McCoy has been working out the schedule for the fall season. It will consist of five or six regular season meets as well as the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) championships and the men’s and women’s teams will travel together to away meets.
Another motivation for launching the varsity team comes from the great interest among the current club runners. Vice President Tristan St. Onge says, “The majority of them ran in high school and miss that sense of competition and the idea of a real ‘team’ they can train with.” This will provide the opportunity for these runners as well as others to showcase their hard work and talent in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Despite the varsity upgrade, the club team will stay intact for those who want a less competitive running experience. “I believe that there will be interest in keeping the club as well since some of the club members like to run only for fun. It is easier and more fun to run with other people than by yourself,” says St. Onge.
The club has been busy this season, participating in five road races thus far. Most of these races were 5Ks, measuring 3.1 miles; however they have plans to run some lengthier distances this spring. Senior Anna Vaudin describes, “There’s a race in Leonardtown in April where you can run either 5K or 10K, which is nice because the runners have a choice of distance while all participating in the same event.” The team also plans to participate in a run to Point Lookout this semester. “It’s a 12.5 mile run, so it’s a big accomplishment when you’re done,” Vaudin says.
This development proves that the college’s athletics program is moving in an exciting direction. Devine said, “We are confident that we will fill both the male and female cross country rosters with student athletes who will train hard and represent the college in a first class manner. It will be fun to see the Seahawks competing in cross country this upcoming fall.” Anyone who has an interest in the men’s or women’s cross country team next year should contact Scott Devine at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to providing contact information please include any pertinent information about your running experience in high school, road races, trail running, etc.