Happy Valley Recap

Rebounding off a Saturday night of long travel, sketchy pizza places, and a hotel of questionable hygiene, the members of Maryland Club Running discovered quite the shock before resting up for the night. The hotel which they inhabited did indeed offer “breakfast,” but the magic word “complementary” was notably absent from that description. Panicked visions of famine and empty wallets raced through the minds of our team of stalwart protagonists.

Nevertheless, our resilient athletes took it upon themselves to rouse themselves a half hour earlier than planned on Sunday morning to forage for sustenance in the surrounding area before the meet began. In the semi-urban wasteland that is State College, PA, hidden food oases such as grocery stores, Dunkin Donuts, and some weird bagel place called “The Crust” revealed themselves, and with full stomachs and focused minds, the group swaggered into the venue with… well, swagger.

The races, under the watchful eye of local reporter Ryun Anderson, kicked off with the Distance Medley Relay, a rare yet welcome event. During this event, we witnessed five young athletes make their Maryland Club Running racing debut, as Maddie Mandich, Shannon Young, Konrad Shire, Liam Killea, and Matthew Statsiisduifbvibjrbuirvuxus took center stage and propelled our Men’s A and B teams to top ten finishes and our Women’s team to an 11th place finish. Also notable was a particularly speedy 800m leg from freshman Jake Ayres, who for some reason was not listed on the travel report and was not actually seen at the meet…

Immediately after, Sprint Chair Paige Munshell began her stellar day with a 7th place finish in the 60mHH. Munshell would later go on to complete an impressive triple, placing 10th in the 60m dash (with a new club record of 8.85) and 8th in the 200m dash. Meanwhile, fellow hurdler Ian Tumulty decided to scratch out of later events in order to focus on the 60mHH and a subsequent trip to Five Guys. Tumulty’s newfound passion and focus for the event enabled him to reach his goal of “not being last in an event of literally 4 guys.” Tumulty placed 3rd and proceeded to spend the rest of the meet graciously capturing his photogenic teammates in pictures that will fortunately, never ever be erased.

Munshell was not the only athlete to set a new club record last Sunday. Sophomore Noah Chong, in between his engineering homework set, threw 10.85m in the shot put, earning him a 4th place finish, a shiny new club record, and an impressive amount of chalk on his neck.

Excitement came from the distance side as young talent made, as Cardi B calls them, “money moves,” in the mile. Coming off her strong DMR leg, freshman Shannon Young chased a lead pack for the first half of the race, which allowed her to lock down a 6th place finish, with veteran Julia Heiges coming in quickly behind in 11th. On the men’s side, freshman sensation and manager of all our money, Brian McCullough took it upon himself to challenge Penn State’s Bryan Moon. Bets and wagers flew through the air as Battle of the Brian’s took place on the track, and fans were rewarded with a 4:25 full mile from McCullough, second only to Moon’s 4:23.

Hungry for more action, fans were again presented with a treat in the form of “the most painful mile I have ever witnessed” from Briggs Briggs, who almost perfectly duplicated his earlier performance in the mile leg of the Men’s DMR.

Fan’s and athletes alike took their time to recover, both mentally and physically, during the official’s intermission at 12:30. Slam poetry was delivered by McCullough’s other half, the cruelly crippled power-walker Nate Lieske. Naps were taken, lunches were quickly devoured, and Sour Patch Kids: The Cereal became the topic of many heated debates.

Nevertheless, action picked right back up as Statsdybbsfivobgriegons, the only man to not scratch out of the open 400m, proved that yes, distance runners can go sub 60, or as historians refer to it, “sub-Steens.”

The energy provided from this performance carried on into the next event: the dreaded 800m. Apparel Coordinator Simone Evans, ironically without a club uniform, flew off the line boldly and scored a strong 4th place finish in 2:36, but even she agreed that, had she been wearing a uniform singlet, that 1st place would have been a piece of cake. As if to prove that freshman are the only people foolish enough to run this dumpster fire of an event, McCullough and Shire took to the track and recorded some promising beginning of the season performances. Shire negative split his way to a 2:06, while McCullough thundered away from the field with 400m to go to take first place in the 500m dash, only to be savagely passed by 3 other competitors as he barreled through the last 300m to finish in 2:02.

Fresh from foregoing the open 400m, newcomers Killea and Harry Rentzeperis joined veteran Ian Lynch for the 200m dash (who was rebounding from an earlier performance in the 60m dash), where the big boys laid out an impressive spread of 8th (Rentzeperis), 13th (Killea), and 25th (Lynch). While not confirmed, it is speculated that former Sprint Chair Matthew Marcel looked on the 200m with a single tear of pride rolling down his face, his heart warmed by the efforts of the active sprinter core. Either that or he was thinking about the ticket he got on the way to the meet.

With the 200’s rounded out, those teams who remained at the meet huddled to the side of the banked curve for a glimpse of the final distance race of the day: the ever elusive 3k. The Terps packed three women and three men into the fastest heats, and the gambling addicts that hadn’t gotten their fix since the 800s began throwing down large wagers: dimes, quarters, even full dollars!

Shannon MacMaster, Emily Hawkins, and Sarah Shapiro duked it out in the fast heat of the women’s 3k with Shapiro securing a 17th place finish, Hawkins scoring 8th (going under the previous club record by over 10 seconds), and MacMaster figuratively ending the lives of every racer in the field. MacMaster led the race from start to finish, securing first place, a free T-shirt, a 12 second victory over the nearest competitor, and a new club record of 10:33.31.

To the palpable dismay of Penn State Track Club’s president, the Maryland boys also performed excellently in 3k, with Matthew “Mike Wazowski” Laskowski locking down 6th place, and Colin “R2W” SyBing and Rylan “Strava” Flint going 1-2 respectively <— very important. While no club records were set, Flint notably shaved more than 10 seconds off his 3k time from this meet a year ago, and all athletes were proud of the performances.

While most of the team “yeeted the heck out of there” after the 3k in order to dodge some impending snow on the drive home, diehard fans remained to witness the second fastest indoor 4x400m in club history from MacMaster, Evans, Mandich, and Heiges. The team was possibly most proud of Heiges defying all the haters and slashing time off her seed split of 80 seconds. The men’s team, as is custom, scratched out of the 4x400m. One of the prospective legs, when pressed for his reasoning for scratching, replied “Oh absolutely not.”

In the end, the Terps returned to College Park happy to be far away from Happy Valley, but proud of their early season performances and excited for the coming season. Next: Capital Relays at American University.