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First-Year Cross Country Team At a Strong Pace

As the St. Mary’s men’s and women’s cross country teams make their varsity debut, a successful first meet for both teams marks the entry of two strong teams into what will most certainly be a fast-paced season.

Athletics and recreation director Scott Devine announced the addition of the two teams as the 16th and 17th SMCM varsity sports last April, welcoming them “underneath the Seahawk Athletics umbrella.”  Subsequently, the team was accepted by the Capital Athletic Conference, joining the eight other institutions with men’s and women’s cross country teams that would compete the following season.

Over a month later, in late May, ARC director Tom Fisher was named the coach of both teams for his past running experiences and as an avid participant in triathlons, having already recently run in the 6th Annual Got the Nerve Triathlon in Mt. Gretna, PA.  “I was already a member of the ARC staff, so it was a logical decision,” stated Fisher.  “Plus, with my experiences in triathlons, marathons, and para-marathons, I thought I could serve the varsity team well.”

The teams, with eight men and seven women running, began training on September 1st, two weeks after most varsity teams had already begun training.  Nick Pasko, a first-year runner on the men’s team, was not expecting it to be as challenging as it turned out to be.  “My coach in high school was an ex-Marine,” Pasko explained.  “I thought this team would be more laid back, but I was surprised by how much work it was.”

The first meet of the season on September 12th, the Green Terror Split Distance XC Challenge, was hosted by McDaniel College, and featured a 5K and 3K race for runners from Hagerstown, York, Hood, Lancaster Bible, Stevenson, Hagerstown C.C., and Montgomery.  After only two weeks of training, the Seahawks ran a strong, successful race, the men’s team placing fourth out of seven by beating Hood, Lancaster Bible, and Montgomery in both the 5K and 3K races.  The women’s team took third, placing higher than Hood, Hagerstown C.C., Stevenson, and Lancaster Bible.

Individually, first-years Dan Swain, Nick Pasko, and Quint Frauman placed as the top three St. Mary’s runners, as did first-years Katie Phipps and Kristin Hay, and sophomore Kathleen Tatem for the women’s team.  “We had great parental and family support,” said Fisher.  “[Both teams] really exceeded our expectations.”

But both teams still have much training to do.  “We still need to work on conditioning,” said Fisher.  “And some haven’t run since high school, and don’t have the experience.”  As both prepare for the rest of the season with workouts ranging from running to swimming, the friendly bond between the athletes is already more than visible.  “The club wasn’t as ‘teamy,’” said Christianne Ford, former vice president of the SMCM Cross Country Club.  “We’re really committed, and want to be here.”

The teams’ next meet, the York Spartan Invitational, will be sponsored by York College on September 19th, and will feature the women’s 5K and men’s 8K races.

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