Mount cross country appears formidable in early meets

by Tom Utescher
Posted 9/20/21

In their Athletic Association of Catholic Academies opener last Wednesday, the Magic of Mount St. Joseph Academy captured the first four places and also positioned two other runners in the top nine to easily over come a pair of league rivals.

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Mount cross country appears formidable in early meets

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In their Athletic Association of Catholic Academies opener last Wednesday, the Magic of Mount St. Joseph Academy captured the first four places and also positioned two other runners in the top nine to easily over come a pair of league rivals.

The Mount outscored Villa Maria, 16-44, and got the better of Sacred Heart Academy, 15-48. Although Villa was the host school, the meet was run nearby at Malvern Prep, on a course which had been temporarily shortened due to construction on campus. Still, the weather was hot, and the venue featured a few hill climbs.

The Mounties had already tested their mettle the previous Saturday at the annual Abington (High School) Invitational, which had a 13-team field this year. A talented young sophomore, Ella Woehlcke, has transferred to Mount St. Joe's from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, where she was the Blue Devils' lead runner as a freshman in the abbreviated 2020 season.

Woehlcke appears happy in her new surroundings, and veteran MSJ coach Kitty McClernand said she was pleased with how well the new arrival blended in with the team.

At Abington, Woehlcke was the individual winner in 19 minutes, 33 seconds, and just seven seconds back was Mount junior Maggie Murphy, the runner-up. Senior Mary McGrory, the 2020 individual champion in the AACA, placed fifth in 20:32, and Sarah Hughes, also a 12th-grader, shared that time and placed sixth.

Junior Anne Kitching, 41st in 23:14, rounded out the Magic's team score of 51 points, which put them 11 ahead of the second-place team at the invite, Council Rock South High School. The Mount's regular number five runner, senior Olivia Forti, did not run that day.

Woehlcke's former teammate and classmate at SCH, Veronica Gula, led the Blue Devils at the big Abington meet, coming in ninth in 20:44.

Last Wednesday, the altered course at Malvern Prep meant that times would not have much meaning. Coach McClernand was simply looking for her charges to run well and win the meet. Tracking the distance of the circuit on her Wonder Watch, MSJ's Murphy came out with 2.86 miles.

Just a few hundred meters into the race, five Mount athletes had already formed a lead pack. All would later finish among the top six.

Woehlcke and Murphy ran together all the way and crossed the line first and second, respectively, sharing a time of 19:37.

Hughes was in third at 19:53, just a second ahead of McGrory, and Villa Maria senior Caroline Bell was fifth in 20:42. Three seconds later, the Magic's Forti came in sixth, completing her team's winning score.

The first Sacred Heart runner, sophomore Mackenzie Fisher, landed in seventh place in 21:16, and next, in 21:20, was the second Villa Maria finisher, senior Christina Traficanti. Rounding out the top 10 were the Mount's Kitching (9th; 21:39) and Villa sophomore Avery Reigner (22:40).

The team scoring for the host Hurricanes was completed by senior Katrina Heppelmann (18th; 24:22) and sophomore Maddie Borzillo (28th; 26:41). Sacred Heart had freshman Grace Brown in 13th place overall (23:17); followed by sophomores Issa Taitt (20th; 24:50) and Nora Brannan (23rd; 25:36), and freshman Lucy Rice (27th; 26:35).

In addition to those already mentioned, the Mount St. Joseph finishers in the top 20 were: senior Carolyn Arnold (11th; 23:02), junior Zoe Kowal (12th; 23:06), juniors Ciara Fall (14th; 23:30) and Nicole Torres (15th; 23:49), sophomore M.K. Seiberkich (16th; 23:50), junior Molly Brennan (17th; 24:20), and freshman Grace Daly (19th; 24:43).

UPDATE: In the 2021 running of the venerable Briarwood Invitational at Belmont Plateau last Saturday, the Mount's Woehlcke won the top-level Championship Division race in 19 minutes, 36 seconds. The Magic also won the team competition easily, outscoring runner-up Strath Haven High School 35-65 with Murphy placing fourth, Hughes seventh, McGrory 10th, and Forti 13th.

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