by Tom Utescher
Mount St. Joseph Academy is back on the cross country trail for the 2018 season, returning four of its seven scorers from last year’s Athletic Association of Catholic Academies championship meet.
The Mount won the league in 2012 and 2013, placed second the next two seasons, and finished fourth in 2016 and 2017.
Head coach Kitty McClernand has had to make some alterations to Mount St. Joe’s home course, since the school’s new artificial turf field has been laid down where the cross country runners used to make a downhill dash from the old starting line.
There are three senior co-captains this year, Megan Ciasullo, Gabby Ford and Clara Marty. Ciasullo placed eighth at the 2017 AACA’s to become the Magic’s lone top-10 finisher, and she was a strong performer in track and field in the spring. The other two seniors on the team are Lily Howard and Laney Volpe.
Five juniors are in the varsity mix for the team this fall, Lauren Ehnow, Maeve Gallagher, Kylie McGovern, Erin Shea Mirabella and Bridget Orr. After an 18th-place showing at the league meet as a freshman in 2016, Ehnow was not 100 percent physically for last year’s race, finishing 34th.
At the 2017 AACA championships the Mount’s varsity seven also included freshmen Annie Lemelin (24th) and Olivia Millevoi (26th). Lemelin emerged as the top sprinter for the Magic in spring track. In early cross country practices this fall, fellow sophomores Emily Carr and Lexi Weeks have shown progress.
This fall a freshman sprinter will once again be doing some distance running; new arrival Kathleen Downs was the 200 and 400 meter dash champion at the Philadelphia CYO championships this spring.
As Mount St. Joseph seeks to improve its standing in the AACA, it will face some serious challenges. In addition to Ciasullo, seven more of last year’s top 10 runners are returning for rival schools. The 2017 individual champion was Gwynedd Mercy freshman Kelly Murray, although as a team the Monarchs came in sixth.
In addition to their regular-season league meets, the Magic will follow their usual practice of racing in a number of large multi-team invitationals.