MU XC women expecting big things
Coming into the year Jess and Kristy Scordino figured their senior year could be a special one for cross country.
After all, the two were both back and Jess was an All-American last year. Mansfield also returned a group that included Savannah Boucher, Susan Learn and Amy Lee.
What the twins never imagined was the help that would arrive this year.
It started with a strong group of 11 freshmen, that includes Towanda's Destiny Foster and Allison McCurry, both of who shined in the team's Colton Point time trial. In that time trial McCurry was the fifth finisher for Mansfield and Foster finished sixth.
"It's great to see all the freshmen and how hard they work," Jess Scordino said. "The other day at the Colton Point run one of the freshmen, Allison McCurry, really shocked me. She finished in 26 something. My time my freshman year was 27. She's ahead of where I was as a freshman. It's a really great group of girls."
With the group they return and a strong group of freshmen the Mountaineers already were hoping for big things this year, but that's when they found out they were getting even more help.
Troy's Lauren Norton and Sayre's Beth Walker each joined the team as graduate students this year. Norton was a Division III All-American at the University of Rochester last year and Walker was a member of the Division I LaSalle cross country team.
"I have never had this much depth any place I have been before," Mansfield coach Mike Rohl said. "I am excited enough that I try not to think about what this team can do."
Everyone on the Mountaineers knows what this team is capable of doing, they are ranked 12th in the national rankings to start the year, but they don't want to start focusing on big expectations.
"We don't want to focus too much on it," Jess Scordino said. "We don't want to focus on that. If you think about it all the time you won't work as hard."
While Jess is coming off an All-American season in cross country and track and field, Kristy is coming off an injury this summer and she is happy to have the added depth to help her out this year.
"Coming off my injury this helps to have them here," she said. "If it was just me and Jess I don't know how I would do. I want to be up there with her, but with my injury I don't know if I can be. It helps to have people that can push me."
Kristy knows there will be tough days coming off an injury, but it helps her to have other people running with her to push her through it.
"If I'm having a bad day it helps to have people to pull me along and run with," she said. "It helps to have people to practice with and have with me out there. Having Beth and Lauren on workouts really helps a lot."
While she isn't feeling 100 percent right now, Kristy did finish fourth in the team's time trial, with a time of 25:38.
"It kind of shocked me, I didn't realize I could PR," she said. "For me it lets me know that I can be where I used to be."
One thing that has helped Kristy is her years of experience have helped her learn to handle injuries better.
"You mature as you go," she said. "I know I have to ice bath every single day. When I was younger with PT (physical training), I would sometimes think I can do it tomorrow, now I do it every day and I know it's very important. It's not that I didn't work before, but you understand more how important things are now."
One of the benefits with all the depth this year is that if someone does struggle, there are a lot of other runners to pick them up."They can be competitive," Rohl said. "They can really push each other and if one person has a bad day, there is enough depth. That's the big key, there is just so much depth this year."
That depth is a huge help for the freshmen. While there are freshmen capable of stepping into the lineup and helping out, there won't be the same pressure for them to have to contribute right away.
"The first meet we can see where the girls are at," Kristy said. "It will be there first college meet and they can go out there for the experience and see how they do."
Those freshmen will likely be looking up to Jess and Kristy this year, just as they looked up to older runners when they were starting out.
"You always like to have someone to push you and make you better," Jess said. "I had Brenae (Edwards) who pushed me and now I try and push everyone."
One thing that is very different this year is just the number of runners on the squad. The team has over 20 runners this year and that is something new.
"I have never been a part of a team this big," Jess said. "It's nice to have this many girls."
And, while there are a lot of numbers, everyone on the team gets along well this year.
"When we came in as freshman the team was very segregated," Kristy said. "It was very segregated with the upperclassmen separate, we don't have that with this team. We don't look at it as seniors and freshmen, we look at it all as one team."
And, while there are new faces that joined the team this year, it didn't take them long to start fitting in.
"The older girls that joined the team like Lauren, they really stepped up," Jess said. "They came in and took on a leadership role. They are able to share their experiences. Lauren went to a Division III team and was an All-American. Beth is used to bigger teams like this, she went to a Division I team. It helps that everyone has different experiences they can share."
With everything that the Mountaineers have this year they are hoping for some big things.
"It's a very good group, it will be a lot of fun," Kristy said.
"I am super excited," Jess said.
While the men don't have the same depth as the women, they have 11 runners on the roster, they do Mike Robinson returning after an injury, and Waverly's Will Mullen returns to the squad as well.
"The men's team can be very good to," Rohl said. "There are a lot f runners who came in fit this year and are running really hard."
Having Robinson back to lead the squad is a big help, but the men are a team with a lot of experience, there are three seniors and four juniors on the team, to help lead them.
"There is a lot of leadership on the team," Rohl said. "Some lead by example and others are more vocal leaders. I think it's a team that can be very good."