Of injuries and internships
SMCM cross country ready to hit the ground running
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.”
St. Mary’s College’s Grace Humphries is finally running pain-free after battling injuries the past 18 months.
St. Mary’s College’s Scott Zimmerman interned with Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-Md., 3rd) over the summer.