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Pair of distance runners lead Thunder track and field to 6-0 start

The Thunder has roared loud and clear in track and field once again this year with an impressive 6-0 start this season.

Mt. St. Mary has been able to overcome small numbers with hard work and determination.

“We have a really small team, but, athlete for athlete, they’re awesome,” Mt. St. Mary coach Chris Monaco said. “They’re hard workers, everybody pulls their weight and there isn’t anybody that doesn’t factor in at some point.”

It is this kind of work ethic that has enabled the Thunder to defeat teams with much greater numbers.

“They are just crazy hard-working and dedicated kids,” exclaimed Monaco. “It’s the commitment from the kids that have helped us beat bigger teams.”

The Mt. St. Mary track and field team is truly a blue-chip program. But the Thunder don’t win purely on effort. There is plenty of talent to be found on the Thunder roster, as well.

Mt. St. Mary has had the top two distance runners in the Monsignor Martin for cross country, as well as for track, over the past two years in senior Emma Sullivan and junior Hailey Gattuso.

For Sullivan and Gattuso, facing your top competition every day certainly provides a big advantage in terms of preparation and improvement.

“They get along as friends, but from a competitor’s standpoint, they really push each other to get the best out of one another,” Monaco said of his stud distance runners.

Sullivan and Gattuso bring more to the table than just ability, work ethic and victories. They also provide leadership that is equally as valuable to the team. As a senior, Sullivan has fulfilled her role as a team leader.

“Emma sets the tone,” said Monaco. “When she graduates, we are going to miss her leadership probably as much as her running ability.”

Sullivan has been a role model for her younger teammates, as well.

“She has set a pretty high bar. All the young kids have followed her lead as far as the commitment and dedication that it takes,” said Monaco.

Though the Thunder will surely miss Sullivan when she departs for Edinboro in the fall, Mt. St. Mary has enough young talent to eventually fill her void. One runner that eventually could step in is Marissa Saber.

The freshman has been impressive in her first year for Mt. St. Mary. She also has been all eyes and ears while around Sullivan and Gattuso.

“Hailey and Emma have taken Marissa under their wing,” said Monaco. “They’re showing her the ropes and Marissa is a really dedicated kid. I think Marissa has a lot of potential as she gets older and gets a little stronger. But she is definitely following in their footsteps.”

Between the unblemished record and the quality efforts from both younger and older athletes, there is plenty Mt. St. Mary can be pleased with at this point in the season.

But the work doesn’t stop here; especially if the Thunder hope to challenge powerhouse and three-time defending All-Catholics champion Immaculata down the road.

“Obviously, when you get off to a good start and get some wins you take pride in that,” said Monaco. “You want to let the girls enjoy it but you also want to keep them grounded, stay humble and keep working hard.”
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