Mount junior Erin Shea Mirabella starts to make the final turn toward the finish line in last Wednesday’s meet. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

After competing in several large invitationals and one dual meet on the road, the cross country runners at Mount St. Joseph Academy raced at home for the first time last Wednesday afternoon.

With all five of their scorers among the top eight finishers overall, the Magic defeated the visiting Nazareth Academy Pandas, 23-32. This evened up their Catholic Academies record at 1-1, coming after a setback at Villa Maria one week earlier.

With the installation of the school’s new artificial turf playing field over the summer making part of the old cross country course off-limits, the Mount restructured its home circuit a bit, keeping the customary finish line but moving the starting line onto the MSJ track.

Since this was officially a new course, the winner of last Wednesday’s initial home meet would be setting the first course record. All times were somewhat high due to very warm weather, and in 21 minutes and 47 seconds Magic senior Megan Ciasullo became the first record holder at the new Mount venue.

The previous Saturday, Ciasullo had recorded a new 5000-meter PR of 19:52 as she finished ninth overall at the George School Invitational, where Mount St. Joseph placed fifth out of 23 teams.

In last week’s Nazareth meet Ciasullo was alone out front, with second place going to Pandas freshman Ella Verello in 22:23. Finishing closer together and strengthening the Mount’s position were junior Lauren Ehnow in third place (23:02) and sophomore Annie Lemelin in fourth (23:11).

After the next two spots went to Nazareth’s Lianna Rieser (23:21) and Danielle Juliano (23:27), the Mounties clinched the meet victory by locking up seventh and eighth place. Sophomore Olivia Millevoi finished in 24:10, and junior Bridget Orr crossed the line in 24:48.

After visitor Julia Quigley placed ninth in 24:56 and Mount St. JMounoe junior Erin Shea Mirabella rounded out the top 10 overall (25:03), Nazareth’s team score was completed by an 11th-place performance by Ciara Dubeck (25:34).

Mount and Nazareth runners alternated in the next four places, with the Magic picking up 12th from junior Maeve Gallagher (25:51) and 14th from senior Clara Marty (26:27).

After Nazareth nabbed 15th place, the rest of the top 20 belonged to five Mounties; sophomores Emily Carr (27:14) and Lindsay Shearman (27:25), junior Kylie McGovern (27:35), freshman Lauren Maher (27:36), and junior Megan Dowling ((27:43). In 21st place was senior Gabby Ford (28:11) who is tri-captain of the Mount team along with Ciasullo and Marty.

Mount St. Joe senior Megan Ciasullo runs up the final slope just before her course-record finish last Wednesday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)