Mount St. Joe freshman Haasiyna Taylor has the finishing line flag in view as she breezes to victory in last Tuesday’s dual meet. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

After honing their skills in two multi-team invitational events, the cross country runners at Mount St. Joseph Academy cruised to victory in their first dual meet last Tuesday. Performing on their home course, which actually measures a tad over 3.1 miles or 5.0 kilometers, the Magic rolled up a 23-45 victory over a Catholic Academies opponent, Villa Joseph Marie.

A mid-week spike in temperatures made for August-like conditions, but MSJ rising star Haasiyna Taylor won easily in 20 minutes, 24 seconds on the moderately hilly circuit. An incoming freshman who lives in Mount Airy, Taylor comes to the Mount from the Mastery Charter School, and when she was younger she attended Chestnut Hill’s J.S. Jenks School.

Villa Joe runners Brenna Twomey and Emma Mahoney crossed the line in second and third place, followed by Mount senior Meredith Reiche, who was fourth in 21:31.

“Hassyna and Meredith ran closer together in our first couple of races, but they came apart today,” observed first-year coach Kitty McClernand.

An assistant coach with the Mount for a number of years (and a former MSJ parent), new Magic mentor now has an assistant coach who is a former Mount runner, 2005 graduate Megan Badolato. McClernand noted that her top two finishers on Tuesday, the newcomer Taylor and the veteran Reiche, are representative of the make-up of the team as a whole.

“We have older girls who are stable, and talented young girls who are coming on strong for us,” she said.

The coach reported that Taylor finished third at Archbishop Wood’s Viking Invitational (where she ran a 19:09 5K) and fourth at the Abington Invitational, while Reiche placed fifth and ninth, respectively, at those two events.

Mount St. Joe skipped last weekend’s big Briarwood meet at Belmont, choosing instead to race this Saturday at the Council Rock Invitational, which is held on the same course as the Catholic Academies championships.

Villa Joseph Marie ran at Briarwood and the Jems’ best performer was Mahoney, who finished eighth in the Division Two varsity event.

In last Tuesday’s dual meet, the Magic’s depth eventually overwhelmed Villa Joe. Danielle Leporace landed fifth in 22:30 (she’s a Mount team co-captain along with fellow senior Tara Hanks), and was followed closely by junior teammates Patricia Hoffman (sixth; 22:32) and Adrienne Cellucci (seventh; 22:46). Eighth place went to the visitors, but rounding out the top ten were Patricia Hoffman’s twin sister Kathryn (ninth; 22:54) and MSJ sophomore Alyssa Kist (10th; 23:12).

Places 11-20

11. MSJ Maddie Reiche (Fr.) 23:26

12. MSJ Annie McCabe (So.) 23:34

13. MSJ Georgia Kelly (Fr.) 23:42

14. VJM Faith Lumpkin 23:57

15. MSJ Brittany Robbins (Jr.) 24:33

16. VJM Danielle DeColli 24:58

17. VJM Gabby Falcon 25:00

18. VJM Riley Engel 25:12

19. VJM Tori Widmer 25:36

20. MSJ Marianne Lipovsky (Jr.) 25:53