by Tom Utescher

Freshman Julianna Kardish has consistently been among the top scorers for Mount St. Joe’s Cross Country team this season. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

It was a soggy Senior Day for the cross country team at Mount St. Joseph Academy, but the Magic found that victory and cupcakes make up a reliable formula for lightening the mood on a rainy afternoon.

Capturing five of the top seven places, and claiming the eighth through 17th spots, as well, the host Mounties rolled to a 20-41 victory last Tuesday over visiting Nazareth Academy. The win kept the Magic undefeated in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies regular season, with only this week’s dual meet at Villa Joseph Marie Academy left on the schedule.

Sophomore Haasinya Taylor covered Mount St. Joe’s 3.1 mile course in 19 minutes, 31.3 seconds to win Tuesday’s race. After Nazareth junior Veronica Wheeler came across in 19:42 to become the runner-up, the Magic strengthened their position, with third through fifth place going to seniors Meredith Reiche (20:06) and Patricia Hoffman (20:50) and freshman Julianna Kardish (20:55).

Another ninth-grader, the Pandas’ Emily Smith, garnered sixth place in 21:07, then Mount St. Joe’s team score of 20 was completed by a third freshman, Jane Prior (7th; 21:09). A long procession of MSJ’s purple singlets followed, and the next finisher for Nazareth (2-5 in AACA dual meets) didn’t appear until 18th place.

A week earlier, the Magic had made a major stride with a 26-30 victory over longtime nemesis St. Basil Academy, six-time league champion and the 2011 Class AA state titlist. St. Basil garnered first and second, but the Magic got the job done with depth, taking the next four places.
Last Tuesday, there was only intermittent light rain during the Nazareth meet, although downpours earlier in the day had drenched the course. It was muddy and slippery in spots, especially along one wooded section. However, with a brief return to summer-like temperatures forecast for the middle of the week, Tuesday’s precipitation was not unwelcome to many of the runners, including MSJ’s Taylor.

“The rain really doesn’t bother me,” the sophomore said. “I’d rather run in cooler weather, anyway.”

A few runners slipped down in muddy patches on the circuit, but there were no injuries.

Rounding out the top ten overall finishers were three more Mounties, juniors Alyssa Kist (8th; 21:12) and Annie McCabe (9th; 21:31), and senior Adrienne Cellucci (10th; 21:39).

In the 22-minute bracket for Mount St. Joe were seniors Brittany Robbins (11th; 22:02) and Rachel Heller (12th; 22:04), and sophomores Georgia Kelly (13th; 22:32) and Madeleine Reiche (14th; 22:58). Reiche is the younger sister of Meredith Reiche, and the 15th finisher was number four Patricia Hoffman’s twin sister, Kathryn (23:17).

Likely to complete an undefeated regular season in league dual meets this week, the Mount has legitimate aspirations to win the AACA title at the championship meet on October 16. Overall, the Magic are in a better position to achieve that goal than they were in 2011, when they hoped to pull an upset but finished third for the second year in a row.

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