Chelsea Hartman sets pace for Shady Side Academy cross country team’s special season

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Saturday, November 19, 2022 | 11:01 AM


If you’re a cross country athlete, the last thing you need are stress fractures in your feet and shin splints.

But Shady Side Academy’s Chelsea Hartman has overcome those injuries and finished second among Class A female runners at the PIAA meet recently in Hershey.

Hartman came in with a time of 19:35.8.

“These past few years have been extremely trying for me in confronting health concerns,” Hartman said. “I am so thankful for having such a supporting coaching base.”

In the WPIAL meet at Cal (Pa.) on Oct. 27, Hartman finished first at 19:29.1.

“Chelsea is one of the most unique individuals that I’ve ever coached,” said Bulldogs coach Sue Whitney. “She’s so incredibly gifted athletically. It’s obvious as soon as she enters the course and is lacing her shoes. It tells how she approaches practice. She has all the talent and she backs it up with her work ethic every day. She brings her ‘A’ game every day. We’re really lucky to have her. ”

This year was especially satisfying for Whitney, in her 31st season, in that the entire team qualified for the state meet after a strong fourth-place finish at the WPIAL championships.

Making the trip to Hershey were Rhyley Bendel, Avery Litman, Amanda Minutolo, Maggie Marquette and senior twins Emma and Ella Gardner.

“I will say this season was so different for me in a lot of different ways,” Whitney said. “If felt very, very special. We have kids like Chelsea, and another girl (Bendel) who’s a freshman. I heard about her last year in middle school and was told I was getting this girl who was really good. So I asked Chelsea to mentor her, and it was just lovely for both of them. There were some other girls in the pack who improved. They were getting stronger and faster at the right time.”

The six finished in a range from Hartman’s 19:35.8 to Emma’s 30:13.9.

Said Whitney: “There was no drama and there were no injuries.”

It was the first time Shady Side was represented as a team since 2009.

The veteran coach gave considerable credit to her assistants, Jeff Perlis and Adam Janoszko. Whitney also lauded team captains the Gardner twins and Emily Michelsen.

“Those three were instrumental in providing the leadership and motivation for a team that had such a varied athletic ability,” Whitney said. “They were crucial to the team work ethic.”

Shady Side got a break when it was determined that Mohawk would not be able to send a complete team to Hershey, thus allowing the Bulldogs to slot in.

The “no injuries” description was apt for Hartman.

“The guidance I received from coaches Whitney and Perlis really set me up for success this season,” Hartman said. “Coach Perlis changed my mentality behind my racing. It allowed me to lock in on race day. He’s amazing at that.”

What does the future hold for Hartman? Though she’s a junior, interest from colleges is increasing.

“My in-box of emails is getting pretty full from all these coaches who read the wire,” Whitney said with a laugh. “They’re reaching out to me, but we really don’t talk much as to where she might be looking to run. That’s a personal decision on her part between her and her parents.”

As for the near future, Hartman said she is open to doing some indoor track over the winter. Spring brings the track season, and Hartman’s specialty is the 3,200 meters, though she’s also looking at competing in the 1,600 meters in 2023.

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