Morgan Camerlo has fond memories of win in 2018 Pittsburgh Half Marathon
Morgan Camerlo won’t defend her title in the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on Sunday. She won’t run a single mile down the streets of Pittsburgh, let alone 13.1. As a matter of fact, she won’t even be in the same state.
She will be running, though. The Freeport native and St. Joseph High School graduate competes for Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, which traveled to Amherst, Mass., this weekend for the Atlantic 10 championships.
A year later, Camerlo holds fond memories of the 2018 half marathon, of running down the final stretch of the race on Boulevard of the Allies and breaking the tape in 1 hour, 22 minutes and 39 seconds to claim an unexpected first place.
“I just think it was so surprising to me,” said Camerlo, who didn’t realize she ranked among the leaders until a race volunteer on a bicycle told her during the race. “I really still can’t even believe it. … Finishing the race, the whole thing I was focused on was don’t be that person that loses it in the last mile.”
Winning the half marathon had an extra special feeling for Camerlo, whose mother died in November 2017.
“That was on my mind, too,” she said. “Wishing she could be there but also knowing I was going to make her proud.”
The past few years featured plenty of difficult terrain for Camerlo, who didn’t compete in cross country in high school because St. Joseph didn’t have a team. She began her college career at Westminster, finishing as runner-up at the Presidents’ Athletic Conference cross country championships in 2017 before transferring closer to home to Geneva in December 2017.
Her move to Saint Joseph’s came after her fiance, a state trooper, was assigned to the Philadelphia suburbs. She said she didn’t want to leave Geneva — she “was bawling” when she told Brian Yowler, her adviser and also Geneva’s track and cross country coach — but ultimately decided to look for a school in the Philadelphia area.
Camerlo emailed Saint Joseph’s coach Melody O’Reilly but didn’t immediately get a response. She visited the school during what, coincidentally, was a recruiting weekend and searched out O’Reilly.
“I literally bumped into her,” O’Reilly said. “It was a Sunday, and she was there looking for me and I had been talking with another recruit, actually. When I came back around the corner, she was like, ‘Oh, hi. Are you the track coach?’ ”
Once it became clear Camerlo was cleared by her previous colleges to be recruited, O’Reilly brought her in.
Camerlo sat out the cross country season but competed in indoor track and field, where she ran the 3,000- and 5,000-meter races and posted a season-best sixth-place finish in the 3,000 at the Villanova Invitational and in the 5,000 at the Penn State National.
This spring, Camerlo added the 10,000 meters to her repertoire, and O’Reilly said she respects her runner’s hard work and dedication.
“(She says), the longer the better, coach,” O’Reilly said, laughing. “You don’t find those too often.”
Camerlo credited the training she received at Geneva for getting her ready to race at the Division-I level and said she hoped to post some strong times at the A-10 championships.
Camerlo has two seasons of cross country eligibility remaining, plus one year of track and field. While she has no half marathons in her immediate future, she expects to lace up her running shoes in a race of 13.1 miles — or even 26.2 — again.
“I do think the longer the distances, the better I run,” Camerlo said. “Marathons have a great atmosphere. There’s definitely more halfs in the future, as both a progression point from going on from shorter-track races to marathons and also as competitive races and training tools.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, [email protected] or via Twitter .