Husband, wife switch places on Plum cross country coaching staff

Thursday, June 27, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Plum cross country coach Stephanie Kennedy and her husband, Brent, have switched roles for the 2024 season.

With Stephanie going on maternity leave until the end of November, Brent, who has been the assistant coach the last four seasons, will take over as head coach this year.

The former Kiski Area and Notre Dame standout learned a lot during his running career that he will apply.

He started running because of the competitive nature he shared with his brothers Ryan and Eric, who ran at St. Francis (Pa.) and Penn, respectively.

“Me and my younger brothers were always competitive and tried to race each other,” Kennedy said. “Then I started cross country in 10th grade and began to take it more seriously.”

That competitive nature led Brent to Notre Dame, where he ran from 2014-2018 and faced a different level of competition.

“Being humbled at Notre Dame was a neat experience, because it taught a lot of valuable life lessons along with helping me to keep a good focus on all aspects of school,” Kennedy said.

Since college, Kennedy has continued to run, competing in multiple marathons and other races. He said he has run five marathons, two 50Ks, two 70-milers and one 100-mile race since 2018.

Kennedy said the coaching hat is one that took him a little bit of time to fit into over the past few years.

Now entering his fifth season with the program at Plum, Kennedy said that like running, coaching can be a humbling experience.

“I try to keep everything in perspective,” he said. “Every athlete has different sources of motivation and comes from so many different backgrounds of running when they start out.”

Last season, the Plum boys cross country team finished 14th in the WPIAL championships at White Oak Park.

Senior Gabe Powell qualified for the state championships after finishing seventh at WPIALs. He ended up 59th at the state meet.

The girls team finished 24th at the WPIAL meet with a very young team.

Kennedy said he is expecting big things from both squads this upcoming season.

On the boys side, he is looking for leadership from his rising senior class, including Matthew Ingram, Steven Pribozie, Cade Schimmer and Caleb Kearney.

Along with those senior leaders, younger runners such as rising sophomore Brady Sciullo will have an immediate impact. Sciullo was the third-fastest runner for Plum at the WPIAL championships last October.

For the girls, Kennedy says he expects big things out of rising sophomore Maura Smith and rising junior Mayah Torres.

“We’re hoping for the best year for the girls team since I’ve been here,” he said. “I expect Mayah and Maura to be able to compete for state competition this season.”

The boys team will return five of its seven runners from the WPIAL championships last season, and the girls also will return five of their seven varsity runners.

The Mustangs coaching staff will be largely the same besides the Kennedy switch. Assistant coaches Matt Proskin — also an assistant coach with the track team — and Steven Joyce will be back.

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