Pennsbury senior Mary Webb, front & center, is headed to The University of Pennsylvania, where she intends to run both track and cross country. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
FALLS TOWNSHIP – After taking a glance at a couple of other Ivy League schools, Pennsbury distance runner Mary Webb decided she wanted to go to The University of Pennsylvania.
She’ll follow in the footsteps of her brother Sam, a 2015 Pennsbury alum, who is a distance runner for the Quaker men’s team.
While it’s nice that she’ll probably get to see more of Sam during his last two years at Penn than she’s seen of him over the past year, Mary said the fact that her brother runs with the Quakers had no bearing on her college choice.
“It really didn’t affect my decision at all,” said Webb. “I tried to take that out of the picture and see the school as everything else that it was.
“I didn’t really factor that in.”
After visiting Colombia, Yale and Penn, Mary said she wanted to attend the institution founded by Benjamin Franklin.
“I just really felt at home,” she said. “After my visit, I got a good idea of the program and where it was headed.
“I just felt it was going to be the best place for me the next four years.
She also said she felt a connection with first-year women’s coach Julie Benson and longtime director Steve Dolan.
A two-year cross country runner, Webb was guided during the fall 2016 campaign by current Lady Falcons coach Ken Cislak, who took the reins of the girls team from outgoing skipper Greg Sargent in the offseason.
After suffering a high hamstring tear in the spring, Mary says the injury forced her to miss districts and states outdoor track championships and was not able to train all summer long. She says she liked the way Cislak allowed her to ease herself back into varsity competition.
“He let me decide when I felt it was right to work out,” said Webb. “He let me see how I felt with regard to practicing and racing. He didn’t want me to get back into anything to soon that might lead to some more problems.”
The method utilized by the coach yielded successful results for the runner. Webb came back from her injury and placed seventh in cross country districts after an 8th-place finish last year.
Sargent and Cislak – both coaches have helped Webb get set to take this next step into collegiate competition.
“I think the program here prepared me really well,” said Webb. “We have great coaches and they really know what they’re doing.
“They really push us; the experience I’ve gotten the last two years running cross country and four years running track has really prepared me for Penn.”
Cislak says Webb went from a third-year rookie to a veteran almost overnight.
“Mary is the ideal athlete to coach. She is the mold for the team. She is the type of person who would be the first to show up and the last one to leave at practice.”
And she’s the ultimate teammate, says Cislak.
“I believe her talent has only been partially tapped because of the injury last spring,” said the coach.
“Regardless of her racing situation, she was always there to support her teammates and would give advice on different courses and races.”
Coach believes Webb will be able to assist the Quakers.
“When she ran within 16 seconds of her all time PR at districts, I was very happy with it. Considering she had almost zero summer training due to her recovery, her season was a success.
“I am positive that she can make an impact at UPenn because of her work ethic and talent.”
While Penn is a short 40-minute ride from her home in Yardley, Webb said the distance didn’t really matter to her.
“All of the schools I looked at were about three hours from my house so distance wasn’t a factor,” she said. “It’s nice though. I really just liked the campus and the city atmosphere in Philly.”
Last year in cross country, Webb finished ninth at states, fifth at Nike regionals at Bedouin Park in Wappinger Falls, New York. At Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon, she recorded another personal best when came back with a 43rd-place finish.
Last year in track, Webb finished seventh in the 1,600-meter run at states. As a sophomore, she took a fourth-place medal in districts in the 1,600 while finishing just outside the medal rankings at states.
Her personal record in the 1,600 is 4:59. In the 3,200 meters, it’s 10:48. And her personal best in a 5K race is 18:04.
Webb says she’ll run both track and cross country in college.
Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter