Of in­juries and in­tern­ships

SMCM cross coun­try ready to hit the ground run­ning

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SOMDhab­s­fan

To say that Grace Humphries has been frus­trated the last cou­ple sea­sons would be a gross un­der­state­ment.

Af­ter bat­tling a slew of in­juries over the past 18 months, the se­nior cross coun­try run­ner is now fully healthy and hop­ing to help St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land to a strong sea­son.

“It was re­ally tough. I’d just take a lot of Advil and fight through it,” said Humphries, who suf­fered a frac­tured tibia in her right leg in the spring of 2015 and then, af­ter a long lay­off, strained her left hip flexor from over­com­pen­sat­ing from the tibia in­jury. She did not prac­tice last year, but did run in meets.

“It was su­per frus­trat­ing. It was one of the most frus­trat­ing things I’ve had to deal with in run­ning. [The meets] were ex­tremely painful, prob­a­bly one of the most dif­fi­cult things I’ve had to push my­self through [be­cause] I didn’t have the train­ing I usu­ally have to lean on. I was just re­ally go­ing off noth­ing.”

But now Humphries, a grad­u­ate from Mercy High School in Bal­ti­more, at last is fi­nally run­ning pain-free.

“Now I feel the best I’ve felt in two years,” said Humphries, who also built up mus­cle with cross-train­ing. “Now that I’m mainly fo­cused on run­ning, I’ve no­ticed a lot of pro­gres­sion.”

The Seahawks opened the sea­son Sept. 1 at the 5K Light Up The Night In­vi­ta­tional held in Carlisle, Pa. where both men’s and women’s teams placed fourth out of five teams.

“I’m OK with it, but I know I can do bet­ter,” said Humphries, who fin­ished 36th in 21 min­utes 59.7 sec­onds. “It was ex­cit­ing to run a race and feel strong. I felt re­ally happy fin­ish­ing the race with my team­mates.”

“She ran a solid, con­sis­tent race the en­tire time, so we’re look­ing or her to be in the top three,” St. Mary’s head coach Tom Fisher said, “if not bat­tling for the No. 1 spot through­out the sea­son.”

Hal­cyon Ruskin placed 27th in 21:26.0 to lead the women’s team, while Eric Or­tiz (27th, 17:15.30) led the men’s squad.

“We faced three very for­mi­da­ble op­po­nents, ran pretty well and had key con­tri­bu­tions from our first-year run­ners and solid per­for­mances from our re­turn­ing run­ners as well,” said Fisher, who has had more than 20 new run­ners the past two sea­sons. “They put in a solid eight, nine days in the pre­sea­son and the per­for­mances they had showed the work they put in, so it was good to see they were ded­i­cated.”

“I was not su­per ex­cited with how I did, but I think over­all as a team we showed prom­ise against some top-ranked teams],” said ju­nior cap­tain Scott Zim­mer­man, who placed 44th in 18:04.9. “I think we held our own as a new, younger pro­gram so we’re def­i­nitely happy.”

Zim­mer­man, a po­lit­i­cal science and stu­dio art ma­jor, spent more than three months over the sum­mer in­tern­ing for Rep. John P. Sar­banes (D-Md., 3rd).

“I wanted to work in pol­i­tics and it helped to nar­row down ex­actly what I want to do,” said Zim­mer­man, who grad­u­ated from Atholton High School in Howard County. “Ini­tially, I thought I wanted to be a politi­cian, but af­ter this ex­pe­ri­ence I’m def­i­nitely lean­ing to­ward be­ing a staffer in­stead. There’s a lot of ex­cite­ment you need and I do con­sider my­self a peo­ple per­son but not ne­c­es­sar­ily a peo­ple per­son to the ex­tent of what you need to be a con­gress­man.”

The Seahawks next meet will be Satur­day at the Shan­non Hen­retty In­vi­ta­tional in Owings Mills.

“We re­ally want to move back up be­cause last year we dropped off a bit from what we’re used to,” Humphries said. “Our main goal is to have our top seven [fin­ish in] 26:30 and be­low, and our fresh­men have been prac­tic­ing re­ally well so I think we have as re­ally good chance.”

The Seahawks have four new run­ners on the men’s team and five new run­ners on the women’s squad.

“And they’re com­ing in with a lot of tal­ent. Lost a cou­ple of run­ners, but it def­i­nitely seems like we’re go­ing to fill that void,” Zim­mer­man said. “And they’re com­ing in with a lot of tal­ent. Lost a cou­ple of run­ners, but it def­i­nitely seems like we’re go­ing to fill that void. We also have a very close group­ing that we didn’t have pre­vi­ously. We’re look­ing like we’re in pretty good shape; I’m ex­cited.”

Fisher said it’s im­por­tant his run­ners treat the sea­son as a marathon and not a sprint.

“Our goal is not to set our PR or have our best race the first week of the sea­son. It’s just a work in progress and a pro­gres­sion as we hope to peak for our CAC cham­pi­onships,” Fisher said of the Oct. 31 meet at Jef­fer­son Pat­ter­son Park & Mu­seum in St. Leonard. “We have depth, but [we’re also] packed pretty tightly be­tween our top run­ners], so as long as we can main­tain that tight pack I think we should do pretty well.”

As far as goals, St. Mary’s hopes to start mak­ing a name for it­self.

“Ob­vi­ously we would love to win the CAC, but we have to be real­is­tic be­cause there are pro­grams that have been around a lot longer than ours,” Zim­mer­man said. “I’d like to say the top half of [the] CAC, and maybe [even the] top three or four would be great. That’s our ul­ti­mate goal.”

PHOTO BY BILL WOOD

St. Mary’s Col­lege’s Grace Humphries is fi­nally run­ning pain-free af­ter bat­tling in­juries the past 18 months.

PHOTO BY BILL WOOD

St. Mary’s Col­lege’s Scott Zim­mer­man in­terned with Rep. John P. Sar­banes (D-Md., 3rd) over the sum­mer.

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