Ridgway cross country team has special bond

Bob Parana - Staff Writer

Ridgway head coach Holly Morelli became emotional when discussing her three young runners and the three varsity Elkers following the team's Sept. 22 home meet with Elk County Catholic, Cameron County, and Otto-Eldred.
She was overcome by sentiment and joy when her three middle school runners Gino Casilio, Jude Schreiber, and Michael Copello took the top three places.
“I’m thrilled with all their times. They’re such hard workers, Morelli said while holding back tears. “I got these three boys that give their all and every time they’re out there they produce. They’re strong and they all felt good today. They work off each other and motivate each other at every practice. I’m just so proud of them,” she added.
The three middle school runners have been taken under the wings of varsity runners Adria Magnusson, Eli Schreiber, and Tyler Annis.
“Our kids work with the varsity and that’s why you see them work harder. We don’t have a separation and they stick right with them. They all click and mesh. We have so much fun at practice. We horse around and have fun and the camaraderie we’ve built is so amazing,” said Morelli who loves how the younger kids look up to the veterans.
Caslio won the middle school race with a time of 11:34. Schreiber (11:45) and Copello finished a second apart in the battle for second.
Morelli feels her Faith is something that has helped during these times of COVID. “I pray with them before the race. That’s definitely a strong suit for me. It’s something that I believe in,” she said.
The Ridgway coach noted Magnusson has been struggling a bit lately. She placed fourth with a time of 25:44. “Adria has been feeling a bit tired which isn’t like her. She’s definitely capable of the 22 and 23’s but her times are a bit down. She’ll get where she needs to be. Right now she’s working on her cardio,” Morelli said.
Schreiber has been strong and is having a great season according to his coach. He finished fourth Tuesday with a time of 19:26. “Eli is an amazing young man. He is truly a golden boy. I made sure I got here. I knew if I saw somebody running it would mean something to me. He was like ‘I was so happy to hear your voice,” Morelli said with tears in her eyes. She was late to the meet to tend to a family medical situation (everything is fine). “He’s just a trooper. He’s a work horse and digs deep and gives his all. I just pray he makes it to states. He’s so deserving of it. I want to see him through,” she added.
Annis finished the race in 25:50. “He works so hard but he’s not feeling his best right now. He has a slump each season where he struggles with his breathing. He was tired today and didn’t have a good day but his times are getting better. He did a great job at Bradford so I know he’s got it in him. Sometimes you have an off day,” Morelli said.
The bond between the runners, Morelli, and assistant John Costion truly is special. Something the Elkers coach feels will make everyone stronger. “We’ll get through this situation and we’ll come out on top. I love being around them and I know they love being here,” the coach said.