The Upper Dublin girls’ cross country team has accumulated an impressive resume the past three years. The team has not faced a league defeat in three seasons, while winning the Suburban One American Conference Championship race all three seasons as well.
This season, Upper Dublin continued its dominance with a 6-0 record.
What’s the formula?
“I’ve gotten lucky with a lot of talent coming through in the last few years,” said head coach Tony Giammarco. “We are getting the girls to commit to the sports and commit to the idea that they are good and have to keep this tradition going. Winning is contagious and they are used to winning at this point.”
Upper Dublin has a top runner in their arsenal in senior Sarah Holl, who has been the Cardinals' leading runner the last three years. She won the individual league title this season and finished in the top 25 at the District One meet.
Senior Jackie Anninos also proved to be a force for Upper Dublin, transforming her spring track skills into long-distance running.
Coming into the season, Giammarco knew he could count on the senior leadership, but wasn't quite sure where some of the other major pieces would come from.
“Thankfully the freshmen this year came through," said Giammarco. "My concern every year is staying healthy. With cross country you are only dealing with seven girls. If one or two get hurt, that could be the difference between a successful season and an unsuccessful season. You are walking that line on pushing the kids hard at practice, but not too hard so no one gets injured.”
Also known as coach “G,” Giammarco tries to find students during school hours to check out cross country. He teaches social studies and always looks for students in his class that may be interested.
“He was a huge reason why I ran cross country,” said Anninos. “Every day I went to history class he would ask if I was going to practice, and he had never even seen my talent. It was his encouragement that made me want to run."
'Coach G' says that he looks to recruit hard-working girls to make a good program. It doesn’t matter if they don’t have prior running experience, as a little motivation can go a long way.
“My assistant coach and I always talk about how we are not trying to create good teams, but we want to build a good program,” said Giammarco. “I think we have gotten to that point. We have a good group of juniors, sophomores and freshmen coming up. I think the next few years we should stay towards the top of our conference.”
With another successful season in the books, Giammarco is already looking at next year’s team. He will have a challenge not having a top runner in Holl and the talent in Annios and senior foreign exchange student Laura Wohlgemuth.
“I am really looking forward to next year because we are going to have a team that doesn’t have a clear cut number one runner,” said Giammarco. “With Sarah being so good, she was always the clear number one. Next year we won’t have that and now the spot is open.”
Anninos won’t be a part of it, but also believes a fourth straight title is possible.
“There is a lot of young talent and some girls that will be returning that are crucial to the team,” said Anninos. “They will do a great job. I will miss it, though.”