Tag Archives: Cross Country

Talking about practice at Mount St. Joe

Cross-country member Charlie Butler running in the McQuaid Invitational.

The Mount Saint Joe community takes pride in the athletic teams. Massive investments are made to ensure that athletes are the best they can be, giving them a higher chance of winning tournaments and games. But while MSJ loves to give attention and plenty of details to the matches and competitions, practices are only mentioned as a footnote.

You really don’t know what practices for some of these sports are like unless you are on that respective sports team. So what should a new student, or someone who wants to be involved in athletics, expect from some of these practices?

To get insight into what some of these practices are like, I attempted to contact some of the coaches for these sports teams. I contacted Mr. Jack Peach of the cross country team and Mr. Sam Bianco of the volleyball team. Some questions I asked included how long practices last, what exercises take place, and where these practices are held.

Cross country competing in a match from last year.

The first person I reached out to was Mr. Peach, the coach of the cross country team. The majority of the athletes’ workouts include a whole lot of running. Mr. Peach said, “The athlete’s workouts vary between running hills, doing track workouts, or just running long runs.” Practices usually last for around 2-3 hours, and usually take place on Campus. However, Sometimes the team runs at Patapsco or Centennial Park.

The cross country team is usually expected to run 5-7 miles per practice. However, Mr. Peach says, “Newer runners may only run about 4-5 miles.” The expectation for the athletes is to run every day; however, rest days are worked into the schedule.

Volleyball team preparing for a match

The second person I interviewed was Mr. Bianco, the volleyball team’s coach. Most workouts include plyometrics, a type of exercise that uses speed and force to build muscle power. Mr. Bianco says, “Practices usually focus on explosive movements. I like to combine skill work with conditioning.”

Practices take place in the Smith Center and occur 6 days a week. The time that practices last depends on whether it is pre-season or not. During pre-season, practices last for 3 hours, while during the season, practices last for only 2 hours.

According to Mr. Bianco, practices consist of a warm-up, 2 three man drills, serving and passing drills, and 3-6 additional drills. Mr. Bianco states, “There are around 8-10 exercises per practice.” However, he added that breaks are worked into the schedule.

The volleyball team competing in a big match

Hopefully, this article will shed light on a typical practice for MSJ sports. Though they seem very different, the structure is similar. This information may encourage someone new to this school to try some of the athletic programs, and to know what to expect when they show up for workouts.

Aidan Bajadek is a junior member of the multimedia journalism class.

When it comes to running, Mr. Brett Davis has learned from his experiences

Brett Davis, a history teacher at Mount Saint Joseph, was a Division I cross country runner at James Madison University, located in Harrisonburg, VA. He is now assistant coach of the JV and Varsity cross country teams at the Mount.

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Varsity Cross Country team running Bull Run Invitational     Photo Credit: The Baltimore Sun

“The difference between college running and high school running is; in high school you stayed after school and ran for about an hour and a half, did your workout and then you went home.” Mr. Davis added, “in college, it was much more demanding and was more of a part-time job.” I then asked, “What is the difference between the meets in college and high school? What is the difference between the courses?” His response was, “In high school the races were mostly 5K (3.1 miles), but sometimes shorter and I never left the state of Maryland because I was in public school. But with college, it was 10K (6.2 miles) and I ran in about 5 or 6 different states all up and down the East Coast.”

I asked if he likes coaching at the Mount, and whether he thinks differently of his coaches now that he is in their shoes. His response was, “I like coaching here because there are a lot of dedicated and hard-working runners like our varsity team, because you guys are student-athletes and you are dedicated to the sport at the same time, ” he said.  “I have a greater appreciation for my college and high school coaches because at first, I took them for granted when I was a teenager and I have used some of their coaching tips and the way they coached into the way I coach today.”

I’ve had Mr. Davis as my coach for the past two years and he’s helped not only with new runners but also experienced runners. He is very dedicated to the sport such as any coach should be to the sport they are coaching. He definitely gives off this “let’s go win and have mental toughness” kind of vibe to him which makes the team stronger. As coach, he’s helped the team win four meets so far this season and many more to come as assistant coach of the Mount Saint Joseph cross country team.

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Varsity Cross Country team at McQuaid Invitational in Rochester, NY    Photo credit: Mr. Jack Peach

Nick DeLauro, Junior

Nick DeLauro is a junior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Cross Country Team Is Young But Gaining Experience

Over the past few years, the Varsity Cross Country team was nothing short of dominant with some of the top runners in the state. However, with the loss of some dominant seniors, the varsity cross country team has a new face and identity. For some, the transition from an older experienced team could be a problem, but for this team, there is hope for the season. The team won back to back MIAA cross country championships in 2015-2016 season and the 2016-2017 season, anchored by Hunter Petrick, Andrew Brinker, Ryan Hockstra, Chris Flynn, Gabe Antone, David Trider. This year’s team now consists of Chris Flynn, Gabe Antone, David Trider, Nick DeLauro, Reza Farjami, Michael Vartain and Dan Alli.

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Dan Alli (on left), Andrew Brinker (center), Coach Whitt (back right), Kevin Zaleski (front right) Photo Taken By: Nick DeLauro

This year’s cross country team is expecting to have a rebuilding year with new faces and a different environment with some new coaches as well. The top three runners (Chris Flynn, Gabe Antone, and David Trider) have been consistent with placing and times while the back four (Nick DeLauro, Reza Farjami, Dan Alli, and Michael Vartain) are improving and working on pacing together and staying as a pack. According to Coach Jack Peach, so far they have been looking strong as a team and staying together. One area that needs to improve is the time gap between the number three runner and the number four runner. Sitting at close to a minute, the time gap needs to be shortened if the team wants to have a legitimate shot at the championship.

When speaking to Coach Jack Peach about what his biggest goal for this season was, he replied, “my biggest goal is to be a top team and be able to compete for champs.” He said, “our back four runners need to work on getting stronger and get more miles in. Also, they don’t have as much experience in these type of races.”

As a senior and team captain, Chris Flynn (right) leads the team through his work and dedication to the team. Photo Credit: Nick DeLauro

For a team building in experience , this year will be interesting to see how the improvements work and to see how the new guys do on the big stage. We don’t know what will happen, but the underclassmen will definitely gain from the competitions. Either way, it should be an interesting season for the Varsity Gaels Cross Country team.

Nick DeLauro is a junior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

Fall Sports Sets Tone for the Rest of the Year

Our fall sports teams put an air of electricity into school everyday because of the success every team was experiencing.  Four out of the five sports teams were in position to take home championships for their respective sports, with cross country being the only team who can say they met their goal set at the beginning of the season.  Although the other teams experienced losses, their dominance in the regular season has set the tone for the athletic attitude for the rest of the year.

Senior Joey Clark in the rain against the Calvert Hall Cardinals

Maybe the most impressive, St. Joe soccer made their way to the top of the MIAA and one of the top teams in the state of Maryland.  The boys defeated St. Paul’s 4-1 in their last regular season game to cement a second place seed in the conference and a first round bye in the playoffs. I asked senior captain Joe Clark for his thoughts about his team’s dominant regular season, “We’ve managed to do so well because of our strong defense, letting up the least amount of goals in the MIAA,” he explained. “Another thing we have over other teams is a strong bench. All twenty-five guys on the team contribute to our wins, and we substitute constantly in games. Our team has a lot of heart and great chemistry.”  However, after defeating Calvert Hall in close games twice during the regular season, they were on the other side of that scenario when they played the Cardinals for a third time.

Next up is the surprising story of the VolleyGaels. The varsity volleyball team has reversed their fortunes from seasons past, improving their record to 12-4 as opposed to 6-12 from a season ago. The Gaels finished tied for third place in the MIAA and continued to look like a strong contender to compete in the championship. However, the team faced their biggest game since maybe their 2006 championship: a semi-final game against the undefeated Gilman Greyhounds.  The Gaels took the first set, but would drop the next three, and witnessed the Greyhounds advance to the championship.  Still, the VolleyGaels worked their tails off to finish with their best season since 2006.

Senior Quarterback Christian Carter stiff arms a Calvert Hall opponent

The football team also saw a wealth of success this season. Senior quarterback Christian Carter finally gotten his chance to start, and made the most of it.  During an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Carter mentioned how the spread offense has impacted the amount of points he and his offense can put on the board. “It’s very fast. That’s why we score so much. We move at a fast pace. Everybody is open. It gets people clicking,” he said to Sun reporter Tony Worgo.  Another key story line was the team’s stellar defense throughout the course of the season.  The defense limited opposing teams’ offenses to an average of 1 to 2 scores a game.  I asked junior Ryan Gorman about how much of a difference the defense has made for the team this year, and he said, “Whenever our offense has been down, our defense has stepped up. But the same goes for the offense. When we’re down, we can count on the offense to step up.”  Because of their loss to McDonough, the football team needed to win out against the two teams above them in the rankings in order to win the league.  Unfortunately, the Gaels did not prevail, and finished in third place in the MIAA for the season.

Senior Carter Williams running alongside Juniors Andrew Brinker and Sophomore Gabe Antone

Varsity cross country may be one of the least talked about sports in school, but Coach Turner sure knows what he is doing.  I checked the MIAA website for the standings and was surprised to see the Gaels sitting atop the conference at 7-0.  The team is comprised of seniors Alex Whittaker, Carter Williams, and Garrett Keidel, as well as juniors Hunter Petrik, Andrew Brinker, and sophomore Gabe Antone. Carter had this to say about his team’s under-the-radar season: “We don’t really mind that we’re an unnoticed sport. Our whole team has put in so much work. We’re all silent and hungry. We just go to the course, give it our all, and take care of business, and I think that shows in our record and performances we’ve had so far.”  Their approach worked as the XC team won the MIAA championship, and the private school state championship.

I’m excited to report that we can look forward to more sports later this year to being contenders to win it all.

There is not much that needs to be said about basketball, but we can all expect them to finish near the top of the conference.  I can honestly say that I believe no other school has more hype surrounding an individual sports team than we do for our basketball team.  Look for the hype to increase as 4-star guard Darryl Morsell announced Wednesday afternoon that he has decided to commit to the University of Maryland. We saw the hype surrounding the basketball team increase immediately, as ‘Darryl Morsell’ was trending on twitter not even an hour after committing to the University of Maryland.

It is my opinion that the indoor track team is very similar in terms of publicity to the cross country team. The indoor track team was the missing link in the clean sweep a year ago between indoor, outdoor, and cross country championships.  With cross country already crowned victors, look for indoor to attempt to complete the second leg of the cycle.

The Tier-1 ice hockey team is also said to be contenders for the championship. While talking to senior Jay Davis, he reported, “We are definitely better than last year, and I expect to see us in the championship game.” Looks like we can add hockey onto the list of teams to contend for a title this school year.

Coach Spurrier led his outdoor track team to a 1st place finish in the spring last school year. Obviously the team will look to repeat as champions, with maybe a position to clinch the running sweep (with cross country and indoor track). Outdoor track is yet another team that does not get enough press for their success, but hopefully we can bring to light how successful the team has the potential to be.

Even though my opinions for the baseball team are even more biased than all of the previous paragraphs, I do believe that our baseball team can compete to win the championship in the spring.  Comprised of fourteen returning players, most of whom obtained a wealth of experience a year ago,the team will look to win its first championship in thirteen years.

Although my initial prediction was that we’ll see six athletic teams win championships this school year, I still see the potential for a couple more in these next two sports seasons. I am very excited for what this year can bring.  The best thing I can say is that we should get out to as many home sporting events as we can and cheer on our classmates during their seasons!

Running to the Top: How Coach Turner Transformed the Cross Country Program

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Coach Turner speaks and prays with the Mount Saint Joe Cross Country team.

Three years ago, when the current seniors were freshmen, the cross country team was struggling. 2012 was the worst year in recent memory for the Gaels, with the team finishing 3-6 for the season and 12th at the league championship. The team’s top runner ran the course in a solid 17:50, but the team only had four runners who could finish under nineteen minutes. With only three seniors on the varsity team, this was a rebuilding year to say the very least.

Now, three years later, Coach Turner has done the impossible and won an MIAA Championship title.  I asked him a few questions about how the team has progressed from where they were a few years ago.  He said, “We have come extremely far. To have won an MIAA championship in my first three years of coaching is a blessing and a testament to the work of the guys in this program. We have kids who have dedicated themselves to excellence. That’s a special thing. ”

The beginning of the transformation of the program started after the 2012 cross country season.  Indoor track started a week after championships, and the distance team members met their new coach, Mr. Phil Turner, who was beginning his first year of teaching at MSJ. He wasted no time implementing his new standards for the team. The one-mile warm-up was replaced by a three-mile run, and the fifteen minutes of stretching before workouts was cut down to five. The first practice immediately built on this rigorous warm-up with four 100-meter sprints and then 4×800 meters at controlled times.

Coach Turner saw potential in the team that fall and began to push the team through the winter and spring. He hoped to build them into contenders for a top-three finish in cross country next fall.

After productive track seasons under Coach Turner, the cross country team returned in the fall of 2013 with him now as head coach. The team appeared to be in good shape after having practiced two days a week during the summer at Patapsco State Park.

Coach Turner decided to test their fitness by starting the season with a two-mile time trial. Even with the summer training, the team was not where he wanted it to be. Sophomores were passing the top seniors. Earlier that spring the team had five runners under 11 minutes for the two mile, and now they only had three under 12 minutes.

Coach Turner saw that more needed to be done and started having practice off campus at Patapsco during the school year. These were hard practices that included five hill sprints that lasted for three minutes and eight-to-nine-mile runs on hilly trails.

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Photo Credit: Milesplit Maryland

The team worked hard that fall and had many personal records. Four runners beat the time of the top runner from the year before. The team finished 6-3 but finished fourth at championships, just missing the third-place trophy that Coach Turner thought they could win.

The track season through winter and spring was very eventful that year. The team tied for the outdoor regular season championship and distance runner Dominic Genuario set a new school record in the mile.

The next year, the team was completely new. Five of the top seven runners had graduated, but this was no concern to Coach Turner. Track season had brought the arrival of sophomore Justin Russell and freshman Alex Whittaker, who emerged as the team’s top runner.

Now a year older, they, along with three-time varsity runner Dan Jordan, team captain Jacob Campitelli, improving sophomore Carter Williams, and team favorite Todd Skintges, looked to win that third-place or second-place trophy for the first time in a decade.

Sadly, that season fell apart after Carter, the team’s 2nd best runner, suffered a stress fracture in his foot late in the season. That, along with some struggles for Jordan and unpredictability for Skintges had the Gaels finish sixth in the conference that year.

Last year was chalked up as a rebuilding year of the team because they only lost three of its seven runners.  However, it should have been a much more successful one. Coach issued an ultimatum: practice will be held three days a week, and if you want to be on the team, you have to show up to 80% of the practices. The team stepped up to the challenge and had more people at practice on the worst day then they did on the best day a year before. He commented, “We never failed to have fewer than fifteen kids at a summer run, and we ran really early in the morning. I left every run exhilarated, knowing that we have a culture of distance runners at our school.” By working them hard that summer, Coach Turner seemed to be trying to solve his problem of having the team break down at the end of the season. By getting in solid miles during the summer, the runners would have a good base, avoid injury, and stay fit throughout the season.

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Photo Credit: Milesplit Maryland

It appears Coach Turner knew what he was doing all along.  The team had incredible success this year, including winning the Scorpion Crawl Invitation by a point against rival Loyola. They finished second at Georgetown Prep and Seahawk Invitational and fourth in the Bull Run (the hardest race east of the Mississippi). In the end, the Baltimore Sun ranked the Gaels fourth in the area. The team finished 6-1 and only lost to Loyola.

However, the greatest victory came at the MIAA championship meet when the team won the title.  This is the first ever Championship for the team and the only Championship that the school has won in the past two years.

Coach Turner has completely changed the culture of running on the team.  Originally, if you were a sophomore, there would be little to no chance that you would be on Varsity. Now, there are three sophomores, two juniors and two seniors on the Varsity team. Times have dropped significantly from the start of his coaching to now. Eight runners have run faster this year than the team’s top runner three years ago. The team also has also managed to get multiple JV runners under nineteen minutes, which is a good sign for the future of the team.

From Day 1, Coach Turner has tried to reshape the team into a championship contender. When asked how he managed to change the culture of running, he said, “My first goal was to get kids to love running. I wanted to share my passion for the sport and show the guys what it means to love to run. I did this by running each day with the team and even pushing the pace in workouts. I tried to show the guys what it meant to run not just for fun, but also with passion and heart. Once we had developed a program where the guys loved to run, it was not tough to get them thinking about their goals and developing dreams of being championship-caliber runners. ”

Cross country now is truly a meaningful sport at the Mount. As long as Coach Turner is still here, the cross country team will continue to improve and look to be one of the best teams in the state. When asked what the future holds for the team, Coach Turner said, “We have a base of really good kids and really good runners. They all love the sport and love the team. A combination like that is a coach’s dream.”

MSJ knocks off Loyola to claim first MIAA Cross Country Championship

The magnitude of what happened last week at Stevenson University Greenspring Campus seems too great to explain in words, but I’ll try anyway. The Dons were heavily favored to win the league after having dominating performances throughout the year. This Loyola team did not want the streak of six consecutive championships to end with them.

Besides Loyola and Mt. St. Joe, the only other team seemingly in contention for the championship was McDonogh. McDonogh had two top runners but lacked a strong four and five, which would eventually pull them out of the running in the all-MIAA Championship meet.

The Gaels beat the Dons twice this year in big invitational competitions, so they felt more confident than some thought they should have. The Gaels’ race plan was to give the top runners from Loyola and McDonogh a few seconds in the first mile, in hopes that MSJ runners could make up the distance later in the race when their opponents started to fade.

The stuff of dreams. Holding the Championship trophy.

This plan seemed to backfire from the start of the race. Loyola’s top two runners, Frankie Legambi and Kenny Rowe, were in the front and had a ten place lead over the MSJ pack. Their third runner, Kevin Wegner, also positioned himself near the front and did not appear to be slowing down after the mile mark. It appeared that the Gaels were going to finish in a solid second place and be nowhere in contention for the title.

However, the heat played a factor in the race, and just before the two mile mark, the Dons’ top runner Legambi slowed down and dropped out of the race.  This brought new life into the MSJ team, and they began to surge to the front.  Alex Whittaker and Hunter Petrik began to pick off runners and moved into the top ten.  Justin Russell, Carter Williams and Jake Almendra also moved up and got into the top twenty.  In the end, Whittaker finished 6th, Petrik 7th, Williams 11th, Almendra 13th, and Russell 15th.

The Gaels were also helped significantly by their 6th and 7th runners, Andrew Brinker and Joe Ruf.  A team’s score in cross country is the combination of the places of only the top five finishers; however, if a team is able to get their 6th and 7th runners in front of another team’s 5th, they can make the other team’s score suffer. Since Brinker and Ruf beat Loyola’s 5th runner, Loyola’s score went up two points and made all the difference. The final score was MSJ-52, Loyola-54 (lowest score wins).

Champions! The Cross Country team poses with the MIAA Trophy.

Overall, it was an outstanding season for the Gaels. The team won the first ever MIAA title for the school and promises to be strong again next year. Almost every runner on the team improved by one to two minutes from the start of the season. Many of the runners have said that winning this championship seems unreal because of the dominance that Loyola has had in the league. The tide seems to have turned now in favor of St. Joe, and Coach Turner and the runners hope to start their own streak of championships in the coming years.

Be prepared for many more trophies coming from the Cross Country team in the future.