Mounties past and present head out for the cross country team’s annual alumni race on August 19. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Mounties past and present head out for the cross country team’s annual alumni race on August 19. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

The runner-up team in Catholic Academies cross country last fall, Mount St. Joseph’s is looking to reclaim the league title that they owned in 2012 and 2013. Last fall the Magic won all of their dual meets against AACA opponents, but in the championship meet they were shaded by Gwynedd Mercy Academy, 44-48.

The 2015 Mounties may well have the personnel needed to reclaim the crown. They have back six of the seven runners who participated in the varsity championship race last year, including their number one, current senior Julianna Kardish. She’s finished fourth in the league meet each of the last two years, and two of her teammates also turned in top-10 performances in 2014, when they were both only freshman.

Mollie Mullen, who was right behind Kardish in fifth place last year, is back for her sophomore season along with Jen DeGroat, who was ninth at the AACA’s. Their classmate Mady Taylor was 15th, and the fifth official scorer at the 2014 championships was the only senior in of the top seven, Maddie Reiche, who took 20th place.

The number six for the Magic last year was current senior Jane Prior, who placed 21st in the league and now is team co-captain along with Kardish. The number seven runner for Mount St. Joe was yet another member of the talented Class of 2018, Jade Killion (29th).

There are some seasoned seniors in addition to Kardish and Prior; Abby Aita and Ella Perry were both solid performers during the 2014 dual meets. This year’s junior class contingent includes Kardish’s younger sister, Caroline.

One of the three girls who finished ahead of the elder Kardish at the 2014 league meet has graduated, Nazareth Academy’s Karli Visconto. Defending team champ Gwynedd returns its top two runners, but graduated its third and fifth scorers from last year’s AACA’s.

Entering their firth season under head coach Kitty McClernand, the MSJ harriers will participate in the familiar John Sharpe Invitational hosted by Archbishop Wood, and will try a new event at DeSales College before opening the league season at St. Basil Academy on September 15.