Vincentian grad Abdalah adjusting to collegiate racing at West Virginia
After dominating in high school, Vincentian graduate Marianne Abdalah watched others set the pace in her first season on the West Virginia women’s cross country team.
Abdalah, a redshirt freshman and four-time WPIAL and three-time PIAA Class A champion who led Vincentian to two WPIAL titles, failed to score in the 3.73-mile run (22 minutes, 2 seconds) at the Big 12 Conference championship meet Oct. 26 at Iowa State. The Mountaineers placed fourth of 10.
Abdalah, who grew up in Marshall, sat out last season with injuries.
West Virginia coach Sean Cleary said said she worked hard over the summer, but struggled early before getting better.
“From what I have seen, it is clear that she has the ability to really (contribute) over the next few years,” he said.
He believes once Abdalah — a three time WPIAL Class AA and two-time PIAA champion who set a WPIAL record in the 3,200-meter run — gets a really good track season under her belt, big improvements should be seen next fall.
“Marianne has become very good at running her race,” he said. “Mastering being (farther) back in the pack brings difficulty for many as they transition into university running.
“I am very happy with the consistency and commitment to racing hard that Marianne demonstrated this fall.”
Abdalah, who is 5-foot-4, said it felt good to compete.
“I finally feel like myself again as a runner,” she said. “It feels really good to be feeling faster and stronger.
“To prepare for this season, I cross-trained for many months as hard as I could. I knew that one day I would be back to running, and wanted to come back better.”
Abdalah, a biology major, shined in the classroom, making the 2017-18 Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team in cross country.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.