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Muhlenberg College

Monday, August 25, 2008

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Youthful Ambition Fuels Cross Country

Yes, Peyton had his Gatorade to fuel him to his 2006 Super Bowl victory. Powerade helped Carmelo Anthony win Olympic gold. And Tiger had his own Tiger Gatorade made to fuel his 14 major wins.

And while the Muhlenberg cross country teams may drink these before mile repeats or early-morning sessions in the weight room, it’s not really what fuels them.

It’s good old-fashioned I-want-this-more-than-you ambition.

Make that youthful ambition. Muhlenberg’s 2008 cross country teams have a total of 10 freshmen and 17 sophomores. But the Mules aren’t fazed by the ages on their rosters. In fact, it is the younger runners that are stepping up as hard workers and leaders.

Stuart Udis
Stuart Udis is one of four seniors who helped the men finish fourth as a team in the Centennial Conference Championships.
Alaina Ferretti
Alaina Ferretti ran a personal best of 27:21 at last year’s Paul Short Run.
“It’s because we’re so young that we have so much potential,” says sophomore Abby Simons, who placed 42nd out of 113 runners in the Centennial Conference Championships last season and earned her first varsity letter as a freshman.

In fact, despite losing all its seniors, the women’s team is returning with five sophomores who lettered as freshmen. The women are also coming off a powerful track season, setting school records in the 4x1600 (indoors) and 4x800 (outdoors) relay teams, and are building off that momentum. Sophomores Kim Bier, Hannah Mitchell and Simons made up three-quarters of these teams.

Junior captain Lauren Conicella describes the team as ambitious and says that other teams shouldn’t discount them because of their age. “We work really well together. We’re mentally tough and committed to team goals.”

The Mules open their season this Friday at the Lehigh Valley Championships. And there are other meets later in the season the Mules are excited to compete in.

Conicella is looking forward to the Mule/Falcon Classic. “We always get a lot of support and former teammates that come back and there’s this great energy.”

Last year, the women won the Mule/Falcon Classic, putting four runners in the top 11. Three of the four are back for the 2008 season.

Simons is looking forward to the Paul Short Run because of the fast course and high level of competition. In the 2007 race, the women placed 11th out of 33 teams.

Last year, the men’s team finished in the top four in five of its six meets and is prepared to best that this season. Coach Will Elson claims that the men have the most depth in each class that he has ever seen. Sophomore Bobby Torphy, who finished 37th out of 104 in 2007’s Centennial Conference Championships, points out the current sophomore class got a lot of exposure last year and is more experienced for the 2008 season. Torphy is emerging as a leader this year, trying to be an example and motivator for his other teammates by working hard every day. “I can’t be a leader if others don’t respect what I do.”

The men’s team has solid captain leadership that comes also with NCAA championship experience. Last year David Chorney and Timothy VanSyckle competed in the championship meet, placing 195th and 230th. The two also went as part of the 2006 Mules team that qualified and have a chance to return again this season.

Just a few more mile repeats to go before the season starts.

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