Fox Chapel cross country standout working back into form

Saturday, September 2, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Rowan Gwin never discovered what the cause of his hip flexor injury was last spring. Trying to navigate through great pain, Gwin competed in the WPIAL Class 3A track and field championship at Slippery Rock University.

That didn’t go great. Entering this cross country season, Gwin, who finished seventh at WPIALs last season and was a PIAA qualifier, is working on slowly building back to his previous form.

“Right after my injury, walking was hard,” Gwin said. “It was a different style of living. Those couple months, I was swimming, cross training and biking. I wanted to keep my cardio up while I wasn’t running.”

Gwin, who won’t compete in Fox Chapel’s first few meets, didn’t start running again until the second week of August. When Gwin’s training resumed, he went from running 55 to 60 miles a week in the past to the current 28 miles a week he is doing.

“I can feel it in my legs already,” Gwin said.

Fox Chapel cross country coach Thomas Moul hopes that Gwin will be ready by the time the WPIAL championship meet rolls around.

“That’s the goal,” Moul said. ‘He’s been diligent about his rehab. He’s been such a great leader for this group of guys.”

Gwin is one of many Fox Chapel runners who have high hopes of navigating their way back to the state meet. Last season, Gwin was Fox Chapel’s top finisher at WPIALs.

For the girls’, Emily Harajda placed 53rd with a time of 21 minutes, 26.20 seconds to lead the girls at the WPIAL championships.

Moul said there are a number of runners on both teams who have an opportunity to have good seasons.

Senior Clara Kelley is a two-time state qualifier but missed out last season. Moul said she has been slowed down by injuries.

“She has a tremendous work ethic for sure,” Moul said. “She has talent. She’s been really battling injuries nonstop for her whole career. I think her strength is in her perseverance. A lot of other people would have thrown in the towel early.”

Moul also said that Sara Michalak had a good summer of training.

On the boys side, Max Kaiezer will join Gwin as the other senior. Fox Chapel will also bring back Ethan Vaughn, who finished 14th at WPIALs and was also a state qualifier, Nicky Clump and Michael Costello.

“These guys and girls, especially on the guys side, they have the experience,” Moul said. “We were able to ramp up training. They are older and strong mentally and physically. We can be more intense with training.”

Gwin is focused on trying to do things the right way. Last year, he was disappointed with his performance at states. he had the flu the day of the event and ended up placing in 112th with a time of 17:55.70.

“My diet has changed,” Gwin said. “My recovery has changed. Every aspect of having my body ready every day has been a huge aspect of the last couple of months. I want to keep my body healthy and provide it with what it needs to work every day. I didn’t do that as much last year.”


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