2012 Pennsbury Falcons -
Three time AAA state champion, 1st at NXN Northeast Regional and 9th at NXN; finishing as MileSplit US#9
Pennsbury XC Journal by freshman Maddie Sauer
Hi! My name is Maddie Sauer and I’m a freshman at Pennsbury High School. First of all, I just want to thank Coach Little, Coach Sargent, and Coach Cislak for such a great cross country season. I have had such an amazing experience this year thanks to all of their hard work and effort!
THE TRIP TO OREGON…
Thursday: On Thursday morning we had to meet at 4am to leave for the airport. I was so nervous and excited that I didn’t even feel tired! It was my first time on a plane, so I was happy to have my teammates with me. When we arrived in Portland we stopped at the hotel, and then we were off to the Nike center. When we went to get our gear it was so unbelievable that I couldn’t even speak! They had our team picture on a huge screen, and we each had our own locker with our name on it filled with all our cool gear. Then we went to get fitted for our shoes and go on a run on the campus trail. After we got back from our run we got quick showers and headed to the opening ceremonies. At the ceremonies after they did a dance and welcomed everyone, they introduced all the Olympians. We then headed back to the hotel for a much needed rest after a fun first day!
Friday: On Friday morning we woke up and after eating a delicious breakfast we headed to Portland Meadows. I was so psyched to see the course! When we got there it was covered in mud. We jogged part of the course, and when we were done our shoes were soaked! We also had fun jumping in a huge puddle and taking pictures! Then we went back to the hotel to take showers and go to the Nike center. At the Nike Center we got autographs from athletes such as Kara Goucher, Andrew Wheating, and Galen Rupp! To top off the day we got to eat dinner with Shalane Flanagan!
Saturday: We woke up early to get breakfast and head to Portland Meadows. When we got to the course, it was even muddier because of the rain the night before, but I was so excited to run!
The Race: The moment we had all been waiting for was finally here. The start was so fast that I didn’t even have time to feel nervous. In the first 200 meters of the race, I was covered from head to toe in mud. The mud made it very difficult, but I still had a lot of fun. It was a very different course from any I had run before with hay bales and whoop-dee-doos…. and did I mention mud?! It definitely was an experience that I will never forget!
Summer Training: Even though we had to wake up early in the morning to run in the summer, it was definitely worth it and all our hard work paid off.
Team Goals: Our goals this year were to win states and qualify for NXN.
States: Winning states was definitely one of my favorite parts of the season. I loved the hills at Hershey, and it was great working together with my teammates especially for the last 800 meters. I was also really happy that the other girls from my team were there to support us and even made signs for each of us. It was so motivational and I couldn’t have done it without them!
Pennsbury XC Journal by sophomore Erin O'Connell
Hi my name is Erin O’Connell and I’m a sophomore at Pennsbury High School.
THE TRIP TO OREGON…
Thursday: Early Thursday morning, the Pennsbury Girls Cross Country team began the trip of a lifetime. We piled into a van and headed to the airport to catch our first flight of the day. Thankfully, I got to sit with some of my teammates, so the long flight didn’t seem so bad. The next flight was only 45 minutes, so it went by in a blink, and before we knew it, we had arrived in Oregon! When we got to the hotel we grabbed a late lunch and then headed out to the Nike center. The first thing we did at Nike was to receive our gear, which was amazing. After that we went to another building to try on our shoes, which, fortunately for us, had some orange in them to match our school colors! Once we had received all of our Nike gear, we had to go on a run. Although it was dark, the path we took was really nice and it was fun to run in a new place. After our run, we quickly showered and headed over to Opening Ceremonies. I was so excited that they showed the Reindeer run we had done after Regional’s with the Nike+ Watches! They introduced the mentors for the teams and I was star struck by all of the Olympians that were there.
Friday: On Friday we were ready to run the course. We took the buses to Portland Meadows and I was so excited to finally see the infamous NXN course. It was filled with mud, puddles, whoop-de-doos, and hay bales. We had practiced jumping over hay bales before we left, so I wasn’t too worried about them, but the mud really tired your legs out quickly. We didn’t want to run through the whole course because our legs wouldn’t be as fresh for the race, so we jogged/walked the course and had to stop for a picture in one of the huge puddles. On Friday afternoon we got to meet some Olympians including Galen Rupp, Matt Centrowitz, Shalane Flannigan, Kara Goucher, Andrew Wheating, and a lot more. I have to say this was my favorite part of the trip because they are all such amazing runners! Shalane ate dinner with us that night and gave us some advice for the race that was really helpful.
Saturday: Race day was finally here! The team and I had been waiting for this day since summer workouts began and we were all really excited.
The Race: Unfortunately I didn’t realize the starter had said the first command, so I was in for a bit of a surprise when I heard the gun. As I started the race, a group of girls tumbled down in front of me and before I knew it I had joined them. There was mud in my eyes, on my face, and pretty much everywhere else! I got up as fast as I could and kept going, but it was hard when the mud tried to suck you in after each step. My favorite part was the whoop-de-doos because it felt like a roller coaster and the footing was mulch so it was much easier to move your feet. It was hard to keep yourself mentally going and although I didn’t have the race I wanted to, it was a great learning experience. Without a doubt, Portland Meadows is the hardest course I’ve ever run. I was excited when I heard it was flat, but considering that I thought it was more difficult than the course at Hershey, I think I may have forgotten to factor in the mud. Although the NXN course is difficult, I can’t wait to try to qualify again next year, especially now that we’ve done it once.
Summer Training: This summer we did lots of training around the area. We went to Tyler state park, the canal, and areas around our high school to keep it interesting. I think I put in a really strong summer this year.
Season Highlight: One of the team’s season highlights this year in our regular season was placing 3rd in the Manhattan Invitational. We were really excited because the teams we ran against were the top teams from NXN last year. Everyone ran great and I personally love the big down hills on the course.
Team Goals: Our team goal this year was to qualify for NXN and to “three-peat” at states.
I would like to send a huge thank you to Coach Little, Coach Sargent, and Coach Cislak who work so hard to help us be successful and also to Nike and everyone who made it possible to put on NXN.
Pennsbury XC Journal by junior Erica Gray
Hi Everybody. My name is Erica Gray and I am a junior at Pennsbury High School.
We started our season at the end of June and ended in the beginning of December. Running 5 months straight is not an easy task. In order to stay motivated and positive for this amount of time you need to set goals. Our coaches are always encouraging us to set goals and commit to what we want to accomplish. As a team we set our goals early and the main one was to make it to Nike Nationals. Making it to Nationals is not something you can wish or hope for; it requires dedication and hard work. Of course we also had goals along the way. We wanted to win SOLS, Districts and States, then qualify for nationals at the Northeast regionals. We trained all summer, starting off easy with long distant runs and progressively getting harder each week.
PIAA State Championship
After training hard and preparing, it was time for the Pennsbury team to peak at the state meet. Winning the team state title as a freshman in 2010 was an exciting day. It was the first time I cried from pure joy, and at that time I never thought about winning states three years in row. My junior year seemed so far away, but looking back on it, time has flown by. My sophomore year I placed, finishing 16th. I was so excited to be on the medal stand and I wanted to come back and do even better. This year I finished 10th, having the best race of my season. I will never forget the last 800 meters of the Hershey course when Sara, Olivia, Maddie and I were all practically running together. We were truly running as a team and encouraging each other as we finished an incredibly hard course. Feeling great and knowing I left everything on the hills and having a great race was the best feeling in the world, made even more special when I found out how well the rest of my teammates had done. As a team we ran unbelievable, we came together and crushed it, securing our 3-peat!
After celebrating for a weekend it was time to get back to training, because our season was nowhere near finished. We still had three weeks of hard workouts ahead of us. To prepare for the hills at Bowdoin Park, our coaches sought out every hill in the area, Tyler Park, Belmont Plateau, and Bowman’s Tower. Good times indeed! Winning the Northeast Regionals was extra special because we were the first PA team in history to accomplish that feat. Finally, it was time for NXN NATIONALS!!!
The experience we had the privilege of having in Portland, Oregon is something I will never forget. Meeting Galen Rupp, eating dinner with Shalane Flanagan, getting awesome free gear, and meeting amazing runners were just some of the highlights of the trip. The Nike staff truly made every runner feel special and got you pumped for race day. The extreme mud made the course seem more like a 6K or running every step uphill. Looking back on it I wish I embraced the muddiest, hardest course I have ever experienced a little more. As I was crossing the finish line my head was filled with so many different emotions. I was so proud of myself for finishing because I began to feel ill Thursday before the race and was diagnosed with a stomach virus. I actually ended up throwing up Thursday, Saturday morning, and after the race. As exhausted and emotional as I was, I knew I was not alone. Looking around I felt as if I was in a war zone, everywhere I looked I saw girls crying, covered in mud and holding each other up. Finally when my team and I met up we were all so proud of each other knowing what we had just accomplished. I am so honored to have been able to be a part of this amazing event and to have been able to share it with my teammates. I know we would not have been able to get there without the tremendous dedication and support of our coaches. Even though you are running 3.1 miles by yourself, cross country truly is a team sport.
Pennsbury XC Journal by freshman Hannah Molloy
Hi my name is Hannah Molloy and I’m a freshman at Pennsbury High School. I’d like to thank my coaches for all the work they do to help us achieve our goals, they are awesome and my teammates for all their hard work and encouragement. Also thanks to Nike for putting together such a great event and PenntrackXC and Don Rich for the great website and the coverage and recognition they give to all the Pennsylvania runners.
THE TRIP TO OREGON…
In front of their Nike lockers: Bailey Balmer, Erica Gray, Erin O'Connell, Olivia Sargent, Hannah Molloy, Sara Sargent, Maddie Sauer
My journey to Portland started off very early since we had to meet the team at the Yardley park and ride at 4am. My parents dropped me off and the team took a van to Newark airport, my parents drove to Philadelphia airport and I would meet them later that day in Portland. I was very excited since I was off to an experience of a lifetime, and it was my first airplane ride. Six hours later we arrived in Portland, my teammates were great in making me feel comfortable on my first plane ride. I have to admit I was a little nervous about that. When we arrived in Portland we were taken to the Nike campus to get our gear and for the opening ceremony. This was another great experience I couldn’t believe I was actually experiencing this, they treated us like rockstars! We had lockers there with our names on them and they were snapping lots of pictures of us. The gear was awesome, all the best Nike products. What a whirlwind of a day but to top it off we still went for a team run on the Nike campus trial, how's that for dedication.
Molloy with middle distance star Andrew Wheating
On Friday we headed to Portland Meadows for a course preview. The course was really muddy but nothing compared to race day. After the course preview I was really pumped to run the race. Later that day was also really exciting because we got to meet all the Nike runners like Shalane Flanagan (one of my role models) and Chris Solinsky (one of my brother's favorite runners). I became the number one sister when I got Chris to sign a poster that has been hanging on my brother's wall for a few years, I carried it with me all the way from home. A big thanks again to Chris Solinsky (Dream Big). When we got back to the hotel I took my usual night before race Ice bath (oh joy) and got to bed early.
RACE DAY! We got up real early for race day and after breakfast the pre race excitement really kicked in. Our race was scheduled to start at 10:05am and I wanted to get out there and run. We got on the coach buses and headed off to Portland meadows.
I thought I had a good start and I was very happy I didn’t fall. It was one of the hardest races that I have ever run because of the mud. Not only the mud but we had to run through water almost up to our knee’s at some points. I just kept pushing myself as hard as I could and despite the tough conditions I actually enjoyed it.
After a long and exciting weekend we landed back at home.
From the very start we knew what we wanted to 3 peat at states and make NXN. We trained very hard to accomplish this goal. I really enjoyed the team friendships and how they welcomed me. It also made my transition to High School much easier.
My personal season highlights were placing at States, getting a PR at Districts and making it to NXN. As a team the highlight was three peating at States winning the Nike Northeast Regional and making it to NXN.
The team goals were to win at States and make Nationals.
Even though I fell in the beginning of the race at about 400 meters, I managed to place 23rd. I couldn't let my team down so I just got right back up and ran my race. We ended up winning states.
NXN Regional: Regionals was a mix of every race we ran the whole season. It had up hills, down hills, flat parts and even the smell of hershey (up the third hill). None of us had ever run this course so it was new but it was also a very enjoyable course to me. We won and qualified for Nike Nationals. I personally had a great race placing 3rd for the team and 14th overall, making second team all region.
Pennsbury XC Journal by freshman Bailey Balmer
THE TRIP TO OREGON…
Hi! I’m Bailey Balmer. I am a Freshman and was an alternate at the State meet but ran in the Regional and in Portland.
My mom got me up pretty early at 3:00 a.m. to have breakfast and get dressed. I had to meet the rest of the team at the Park & Ride at 4:00 a.m. to head to the Newark airport. The Philadelphia airport was booked, so we took a van to Newark instead to catch our plane.
We discussed our seat numbers to figure out whom we were sitting by. It was two of the girls on the team first plane ride, so we were all excited for them. While we were waiting to board, we met an individual from our region that was going to be running in Nike Nationals 2012!. I showed one of the rookie fliers where the bathroom was, the buttons that were above our heads and out the window where planes were taking off. Take off was about to start and I was so excited for them.
In front of their Nike lockers: Bailey Balmer, Erica Gray, Erin O'Connell, Olivia Sargent, Hannah Molloy, Sara Sargent, Maddie Sauer
When we arrived at the Nike Campus, I couldn’t believe this was happening to my team and I. We got to explore and took pictures while we waited to get our gear. When it was our turn, we walked through the dark hallway to the auditorium and it was unbelievable. Our team picture was up on the screen, there were lockers with our gear screaming our names. We all hurried to our new gear and looked at every detail. We took pictures and then headed out to get our shoes! Walking to the other building, I was overjoyed carrying all my new gear (even though we couldn’t keep it all). We walked upstairs to try some shoes on and also took pictures, of course! It was time to get our run in on the campus trail and then to the opening ceremonies. The opening ceremony was pretty cool: there were dancers, pictures and Nike athletes! Finally we got some sleep for the big weekend ahead of us.
We woke up early on Friday because of the time difference but that was okay. Portland was beautiful. The sun was shining and there was a rainbow! What an awesome surprise and good sign for the race the next morning! We got ready to go downstairs to get breakfast. The breakfast was great. It was even greater when I got waffles shaped as a soul of a shoe with a Nike symbol on it! Together we headed up to our rooms to get ready to go to the muddy course. When we arrived, we were escorted to the inside seating where we could see the whole entire course. We got a course review and then were excused to go on the actual course. It was so muddy let me tell you! It was crazy how muddy it was! After our team’s course walk/run, they gave us booties (to put on our feet so we wouldn’t get mud on the bus) and grabbed a brown paper bag lunch. We were muddy head to toe. The bus even had the seats covered. We showered, relaxed and then got on the bus again to go to the Nike Campus. We then got to go to the autograph session, which was amazing, to meet, greet and take pictures with big Nike runners! We walked to dinner and then headed back to the hotel to have a team meeting, put our numbers on our uniform, get everything ready for the morning and try to get some rest for tomorrow’s race.
Hanging out with one of world's best runners, Shalane Flanagan:
Erin O’Connell, Olivia Sargent, Sara Sargent, Shalane Flanagan, Erica Gray, Bailey Balmer, Maddie Sauer, Hannah Molloy
Today’s the big day! Race day! We woke up and headed downstairs for breakfast. We were all quiet like we usually are on race day. We headed onto the bus and arrived at muddy Portland Meadows. We went to our tent and then went to go get our chips for our spikes. We warmed up, stretched. We got in our lines to get ready for the introductions. We ran through the smoke holding hands and ready to race. After that, we headed over to the tent to warm up some more and it was go time. We went to the starting line and put Vaseline on our feet to prevent blisters and sliding feet in our shoes. We laced up our spikes, did a few runs and strides and IT WAS GO TIME.
The start was crazy; I had to jump over a few girls that had fallen. I don’t remember much of the race just because when I’m in the zone, I just run. But I do remember it was a muddy mess!
We woke up early to catch the first bus to get to the airport. The downstairs lobby had brown paper bag breakfast for us to go. We finally got to the airport and we almost missed our flight. The flight wasn’t bad because the 6 hour and 45 minute flight time was split into two flights. Maddie and I ended up sitting next to each other again! We both slept and did more homework. I slept more and the flight went so much quicker. We landed in Chicago, got lunch and were ready to get back on the plane to go to Newark but soon found out it was delayed 2 hours because of air traffic. Us girls explored the airport and took pictures. By the time we got back, we had 45 minutes until boarding. Getting on the plane for the last time that day was a relief. I knew that we were almost home. During the ride, I sat by a stranger and just read magazines. We landed in Newark so we still had to get our bags and get in our van that was picking us up. We all played games and slept on the way home. When we finally got to the Park & Ride where we left from that early Thursday morning it was already 9:30 p.m. and everyone was dreading school the next morning. I got home and was so shocked about what I had gotten to be a part of that weekend.
You deserve a warm thank you for setting this up for our country’s best of the best runners! This opportunity was amazing and I will never forget it. Everyday I will see my name card (from the gear up/locker) on my door and remember this special weekend.
Thank you also for taking the time every single day after school to coach us to become better runners. You are a major part of how we got to Nike Nationals in Portland, Oregon.
I was nervous the first practice because I only knew a few people. But the girls were so nice and welcoming. I loved going to the summer workouts.
The season highlight was getting to be a part of a team who won the State Meet three times in a row! Back to back to back!
Our team goals this season were to win the State Meet and make it to Nike Nationals in Portland, Oregon.
For Districts, I actually ran JV. It was a very close finish, I came in 2nd with a time of 19:25.
For State, I was the alternate. I was ready to run if needed. It was fun cheering on my teammates with other teammates by my side that came up the day of the race.
We trained and trained. Practice was different because it was only the Varsity girls working out for the 3 weeks we had before NXN Regionals. I missed seeing the JV girls at practice.
It was a windy and cold day but we were ready for anything. The start was aggressive but I felt good, especially the last half of the race.