by Tom Utescher
After third-place finishes at the Catholic Academies Cross Country Championships in 2010 and 2011, Mount St. Joseph Academy broke through to win the league title in 2012, outdistancing the runner-up team by a comfortable margin, 30-76.
Even though the Magic graduated individual champion Meredith Reiche and the 11th-place runner, Patricia Hoffman, they have enough returning talent to justify setting their sights on a repeat performance in 2013.
The foundation for this year’s squad will be the five runners who are back from the 2012 varsity league championship race. Haasiyna Taylor, still only a junior, placed second at last year’s meet and is the top returning runner in the AACA. The other two scorers are sophomore Julianna Kardish, who finished sixth, and senior Annie McCabe, who came in 10th. The sixth and seventh Mount harriers in last year’s AACA varsity meet were current senior Alyssa Kist (16th), and sophomore Jane Prior (20th).
Kist and McCabe are the co-captains for the Magic this fall, and the other seniors are Jenna Chung, Jenny Geatens, and Olivia Vilella. Aside from Taylor, the junior veterans are Leah Carr, Tara Gallagher, Grace Havard, Georgia Kelly, Kate Pensabene, and Meredith Reiche’s younger sister, Madeline.
Third-year Mount head coach Kitty McClernand has noted potential in several freshmen, including Julianna Kardish’s sister, Caroline, and classmate Julie Hoover.
McClernand will be piloting the program by herself this year. Megan Badolato, a former MSJ runner who has helped out with the coaching duties for the last two seasons, could not come back due to job commitments.
As usual, the Magic are tuning up for their league contests by competing at preseason meets organized by Abington High School and Archbishop Wood, and they will also perform at major events such as the Briarwood and Paul Short invitational meets in late September and early October.