Following is my monthly running article, published in the Republican Herald newspaper.
The 2017 edition of Penn State Schuylkill’s men’s and women’s cross country teams is home grown.
Beginning my 11th year of coaching the collegiate harriers at the Schuylkill Haven campus, my veteran team features alumni from several of our local high schools.
It hasn’t always been that way.
Many of my previous teams contained local runners, but often they were mixed with student-athletes from Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
After a dual victory at the Penn State Worthington Scranton Invitational last October, Schuylkill’s men’s and women’s teams earned a berth in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championships, held in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There, Schuylkill’s women’s team bested all the Penn State University Athletic Conference squads, earning an eighth-place overall finish.
The women’s team was led by freshman Alexis Luna, a Shenandoah Valley graduate. At the PSUAC meet, Luna placed second, narrowly missing a state championship by a scant two seconds. She returns as a sophomore, seeking to improve on last year’s finish.
Also returning to the team as a sophomore is Pottsville’s Casey Gregory. Gregory joined the team during the middle of last season, and emerged as a formidable runner.
At Shenandoah Valley, Carly Teaschenko punched several tickets to the PIAA Cross Country Championships. A good friend and former teammate of Luna, Teaschenko promises to be one of the conference’s top runners.
Justice Demitro, from Pottsville, is a senior and is the captain of the women’s team. Her leadership and dedication is an inspiration to the rest of the squad.
Jennie Li is a freshman runner from North Schuylkill. Her running skills will add to the depth of the women’s team.
Another newcomer is Kira Reedy from Pottsville. Kira is currently a Penn State student who is training for the United States Marine Corps.
Nico Granito, a junior and a Blue Mountain graduate, is the captain of the men’s team. Joining him is another Blue Mountain graduate and former 400 and 800-meter standout, Tristan Dickey.
Nativity cross country and track is represented by sophomore Brett Rushannon.
Another veteran of last year’s squad, Josh White, is not only a cross country runner, he is also a member of Schuylkill’s basketball team.
Ian McGowan and David Chesakis are freshmen newcomers. McGowan ran track and cross country at Schuylkill Haven. Chesakis participated on both the cross country and soccer teams. They will join a member of last year’s team, Matthew Renninger, another Schuylkill Haven graduate.
Vincent May, from Gordon, is the “veteran” of the team. May served honorably in the U.S. Army, and is running as a sophomore this year.
Rounding out the squad are Pottsville’s Jake Kerby, and wrestler/runner Vraj Patel.
The Schuylkill League has produced many excellent runners who are, in the fine tradition of the Coal Region, admired for their hard work and dedication. Former Moravian College cross country coach Mark Will-Weber once told me he enjoys coaching runners from our region because, “They always give you an honest day’s work.”
My 2016 team worked hard, and this year, both the men and the women have but one goal — a PSUAC state championship team title.
If they accomplish that goal, it will have been achieved with home-grown talent.
(Muldowney is an avid runner and the head coach of the Penn State Schuylkill cross country teams)