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Hard work, senior leadership lead SSA cross country team to strong start

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Shady Side Academy girls cross country team has gotten off to a fast start.

It finished 12th out of 26 teams at the Red, White and Blue Invitational on Sept. 7 and has posted wins against Southmoreland, Ford City and Kittanning.

The lone loss so far was to Freeport.

“We have a hard-working team,” SSA coach Sue Whitney said. “We also have a great group of seniors who provide outstanding leadership. There has been a renewed interest in the program.

“We have 29 girls on the team this year, and a lot of them are seniors who came out for the team for the first time.”

The team has been led by a quintet of returning seniors — Rebkah Tesfamariam, Sarah Deiseroth, Mackenzie Klinvex, Leah Stauber and Kathryn Olon.

“Rebkah was instrumental in getting our numbers up,” Whitney said. “She got a lot of her friends to come out for the team, and they're experiencing how much fun it is.”

Juniors Elizabeth Ejzak, Angie Kim, Aine Marie Policastro and Michelle Wolf along with sophomores Sydney Jones and Emily Natoli and freshman Lindsey Stauber also have contributed to the team's success.

“This is the most enthusiastic, hard-working team I've had,” Whitney said. “They also have great camaraderie and are very supportive of each other.

“The seniors came into this season with one major goal in mind, and that is to qualify for the WPIAL team playoffs. They're doing a great job of motivating the rest of the team. We haven't qualified as a team since 2009, and the girls are working hard to make it back.”

“It's been a lot of fun, and the winning makes it even more pleasant.

“I have high hopes for this team. They're doing everything it takes to have a successful season.”

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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