SSA cross country team mixes youth, experience

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Friday, September 13, 2019 | 6:52 PM


After her team went 7-2 and placed seventh at the WPIAL championships last season, Shady Side Academy cross country coach Sue Whitney has a lot of holes to plug.

“We were hit hard by graduation with six seniors leaving the team,” she said. “We will miss their leadership and experience in a big way, but look forward to the current senior and juniors to fill that void as they all have a lot of experience.”

Returning starters are senior Juliana Bem, juniors Emma Filchock, Caroline Green, Jaya Patel, Mavis Rosengart and Katie Sparvaro along with sophomores Ariella Avigad, Emma Lammert and Karen Mendoza.

Promising newcomers are juniors Sean Ma and Whitney McVeagh, sophomores Katie Appleman and Grace Greeno and freshmen Ayli Davidson, Ella Gardner, Emma Gardner and Emily Michaelson.

“The strength of this team is clearly leadership and enthusiasm in our upperclassman experience,” Whitney said. “This group has had tremendous success in their SSA cross country careers and with so many new runners on the team this fall, I will lean on our returning upperclassmen to mentor and encourage the younger runners to achieve their best results and appreciate the ethos of cross country.”

The Indians compete in WPIAL Class A.

“I feel that our most competitive meets (will be) against Riverview, Greensburg Central Catholic and Freeport,” Walker said. “We embrace the competitive nature of our section and have high hopes of finishing towards the top after our dual meet season ends.

“This year is unusual in that we have half the team as new runners with little experience in this sport. Because of this, the season is an open book, but this team is highly motivated and has shown a strong work ethic during preseason and a willingness to train outside of their comfort zone. I couldn’t be more proud of this group and look forward to what this season has in store for us.”

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