Right from the “McGinn” ing
by Cate Murway
He had it right from the beginning! Social Studies teacher/cross country & bowling coach, Ronald Brian McGinn, Brick Township, NJ H.S. ‘72/ St. Joseph University ’83 steeplechase athlete made sure he kept the sport of cross country competitive and fun for the athletes. He made certain that the female students knew there were more athletic choices of popular participatory sports than just field hockey and cheerleading in the fall.
It sometimes seems that cross-country is less visible than other school sports. Fewer students are aware of the cross-country team, a smaller number of spectators come to see the meets as they aren’t easy to view from a single vantage point and fewer cross-country stories appear in the sports pages.
Cross country is a hard sport to tackle. In fact, this sport is other sports' punishment, but in the end, the physical results and the friendships built by common excruciating practices and any sufferings are far worth the training.
Coach McGinn shared that the team took on its own personality and identity as the female athletes bonded to ensure a first time eligible full team representation at the girls’ distance-running scene at the PIAA District 1 Cross Country Championship on the Goodman Campus at Lehigh University on Friday, October 24th.
The intense grey and red uniformed athletes started with the AA schools en masse and focused on the sound of their feet hitting the open and rough terrain, over hill and dale. Somehow they were able to relax and have fun while competing on the 3.1 mile course. It's almost impossible to do your best if you're extremely stressed about doing something perfectly.
The sport was introduced into the United States by William C. Vosburgh in 1878, although at first, cross country served mainly as training for summer track and field athletics. Nine years later, it became a formal sport in the U.S. In the 1960s, the International Amateur Athletic Federation, which regulates cross-country running, allowed women to run for the first time.
Each 5k running course is different in composition, so only the distances are generally standardized. Due to this, accurate comparisons cannot be made between performances on different courses or often times even on the same course on different years since the weather and underfoot conditions can be significantly different. For this reason, records of the fastest times in international competition are not kept.
In secondary/high schools, the standard male and female varsity distance is 5 kilometers (approximately 3.1 miles). The runners stay within a specified distance of the marked path on the course, prepared using various methods, including tape, chalk, paint, cones, and flags.
The course ends at a finish line located at the beginning of a funnel or chute, a long, roped walkway that keeps athletes single-file in order of finishing.
The lowest possible score in a five-to-score match is 15 (1+2+3+4+5), a closeout, achieved by a team's runners finishing in each of the top five positions. Low score wins!
Cross-country running involves very little specialized equipment. Preferred footwear is typically a pair of spikes, light running shoes with a fairly rigid rubber sole that include metal spikes to maintain grip. Necessities are running shoes, running clothes [uniforms for meets], motivation, dedication and oh, yeah! Good Luck!
Meet the team in the order they finished at the District 1 competition.
Bristol’s 7th place team beat Lower Moreland, Jenkintown and Harriton.
BCTHS frosh Jennifer Theresa D'Emidio came in 1st for the BHS team at districts. “[teammate] Jacqueline is really good. She’s hard to beat!” Jen ran a 21:21, coming in 23rd place overall with an average mile of 6:53. She claims she just stays focused on the athlete in front of her.
Jen wanted to compete in a fall sport in high school and there was no soccer! “It’s peaceful running with my good friends on the team and we’re all intense in competition.” Jen is excelling in the Allied Health program. She loves helping people and her goal is to be a nurse. She has tried almost all the events in track & field. Her favorite events include shot put and long jump and she still plays soccer for Parkwood.
Junior co-captain Jacqueline Ivellise Rivera came in 28th place with a 22:12, running a 7:09 average mile. This was her 2nd year on the XC team but her 1st trip to districts.
“It was extremely cold but no extreme hills!” She practiced a few times at Tyler Park in the summer and she thinks she runs better on hills. She came in 1st for the team at the Steel City and the Council Rock Invitationals.
Her dad, Hose suggested that Jacqueline start track as a freshman and she competed in the 300m hurdles. Coach James William [Jim] Jones, Jr., BHS ’59 advised her to run cross-country to stay in shape! She really enjoyed anchoring the 4x100 and the 4x400 relays at Penn Relays.
Previous endeavors included gymnastics in the 6th grade at the Bensalem School of gymnastics.
Senior Ailsa Maire Coughlan, running a 24:39 with an average pace of 7:57/mile, captured 48th place. This is her 1st year competing in XC, something to do in the fall! She wanted an intense sport and she is all about endurance! “It was cool to know some of the competition!”
She intends on competing in the 100m high hurdles in spring track. Ailsa has played the clarinet since the 5th grade and she also participates in the Band and sings and acts in the musicals.
An NHS student, she is ranked in the top 5 in her class. She enjoys the mock trial competitions and is considering pre-law at American University.
Frosh Nicole Michele Cullura, ran a 24:43, securing 49th place with a average mile of 7:58 at districts. “I liked being part of something so big!”
She runs sprints and mid-distance in the 400m and 800m events. Nicole will also run the 4x400 relays in the winter and the spring. “I love it! I love Mr. Jones! It makes me feel good about myself.” She will play basketball as well as compete in indoor track.
Her mom Christine, Maple Point ’78 track athlete is the assistant cross-country coach and the team photographer.
Sophomore Teena Maria Padilla came in 52nd, running an 8:18 mile pace in her 25:45 race. This is her 2nd year of covering the 5k courses. She is the leadoff leg of the 4x400 relay and has competed at the Penn Relays. Teena also runs the quarter mile and the half-mile events. The distinguished honors student thinks, “long distance is calming”. She likes to write poems and she enjoyed tap and ballet.
Place # 55 was secured by frosh, Princess Rogers. She ran a 26:23 with an 8:31 pace.
Senior co-captain Samantha L. Corcoran came in 59th with a 27:09 and a 8:45/mile pace.
“Coach McGinn posts signs.” This is her 2nd year competing in cross-country and she is the manager for the wrestling team. Sam is a distinguished Honor Roll student and a member of NHS, included in the top 5 students in her class. This “Student of the Month” is looking at the University of PA, Villanova, St. Joseph, and NYU for a pre-med program. “Running takes perseverance” and obviously goes hand- in- hand with her work ethic!
These athletes got in the game and are committed to going the distance.
They practice random acts of fun!
They keep their shoes in decent condition as they only last about 400-500 miles.
These athletes will leave a lingering image in the minds of those who’ve seen them race!
A spotlight is well deserved because cross-country is one of the bravest, most underappreciated, and ultimately rewarding of sports.
To recommend Bristol borough youth to be spotlighted e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org