St. Joseph graduate Camerlo finds stride with Westminster
Morgan Camerlo's journey to winning her first cross country race for Westminster last week at the Washington & Jefferson Invitational was paved on a unique path.
When Camerlo was growing up, with the encouragement of her father, Scott, she ran 10 miles daily on the Butler-Freeport Community Trail. But Camerlo, a St. Joseph grad, never raced in high school because the Spartans didn't have a cross country team.
She hadn't even participated in a 5K or any type of race before she joined Westminster cross country last fall, with the convincing of her boyfriend, David Waldschmidt, who is a member of the men's team.
From there, competitive nature that burns within Camerlo took over. Just two years into being a cross country runner, she is one of Westminster's top performers. Her victory at W&J last week helped the women's team take the overall championship.
Camerlo finished with a time of 19 minutes, 9 seconds — 36 seconds ahead of teammate Katelynn Morrell.
“It was a really cool experience,” Camerlo said of her first victory. “I knew my teammate, Katelynn, was right behind me and I thought if we could hold the top two positions we could probably win the meet, which we had not done since I had been running there. That's something I wanted to see happen. We just went out and showed what we can do.
“We came into the season not ranked very high, but I think we showed that we can place pretty well in our upcoming conference championship.”
Cross country has become a part of a busy schedule for Camerlo. She is a history and pre-med major, a distance runner for the track team, a competitive downhill skier, a downhill skiing instructor at Seven Springs and she likes to scuba dive.
Running has always been a big part of her life long before cross country entered the equation. Camerlo's father ran track at Freeport and got her interested in running.
“I ran on the Butler-Freeport (Community) trail every day. I really didn't know what I was doing, but I knew I liked it,” Camerlo said. “I typically ran five miles from Freeport and then five miles back. Sometimes I would have someone would drop me off 10 miles out of town and then run back home.”
Since Camerlo joined the cross country team she has transformed from being a runner to a racer. She credited Westminster coach Tim McNeil with showing her the intricacies of proper training and preparation to being a successful racer.
“Coach McNeil has helped me a lot with the competitive aspect of it,” Camerlo said. “He'll tell me at practice who the top girls are at the next meet, who I want to stay with and who I don't want to start with because their pace will be too high and they'll fall off. I didn't really have that before. I always ran and really didn't know how to race. Going out and running by yourself listening to music and actually racing other people are completely different things.
“I've always been a competitive person. I didn't need help being competitive per say, but I needed help learning to compete at this level.”
McNeil found it to be pretty easy to help Camerlo channel her abilities.
“The biggest thing was convincing her that she should compete in cross country and track and field the way she competes in other things,” McNeil said. “She's a downhill skier, so she has that competitive drive in her. For us at Westminster, we just had to get her on the team and then her personality kind of took over. She doesn't like to lose, and she's a really hard worker. Once she realized she was pretty good at this it just snowballed.”
Westminster has a meet at Oberlin College next week before it hosts the Presidents' Athletic Conference championship Oct. 28. The Titans want to put a stamp on the season with a strong showing at the PAC finals.
“We've talked about the fact that we're not going to surprise anybody anymore,” McNeil said. “Teams are starting to notice us. We have a strong group of runners that goes seven and possibly eight deep, so we have as good at a team that we've had at Westminster in a number of years. Morgan is certainly a part of that.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.