The Haverford High junior finished 15th at the PIAA Class 3A cross-country championship, finished seventh at Districts, third in the Central League Championships and first at the Delco Championships. Haverford boys’ cross-country coach Harry Green said, “He’s an extremely supportive and thoughtful teammate and even as a junior has become a leader on our team. He knows the sport, he knows how to encourage and motivate his teammates, and he knows how/when to make everyone laugh. He’s a tough and talented young distance runner with a bright future.”
Q: Can you tell us a little about the course and the weather conditions that day?
A: The weather itself was near-perfect come race time, but the mud that had accumulated from the earlier rain intensified the difficulty of the course to a whole new extent. For this reason the course was additionally modified to avoid excessive falling – a change that exacerbated the struggle of the course with different hills. These types of thought processes, however, are ones I have learned to stay away from, as everyone in the race is dealing with the same issues as me.
Q: What was your most vivid memory of that race?
A: My most vivid memory of the race was the emergence of a stomach cramp 4,000 meters in alongside the mindset of competing for and representing my school and team despite the stitch that had come about.
Q: What do you think was the key to your performance that day?
A: The key to my performance was finding the proper balance between getting out with the lead pack and being as relaxed as possible in the first mile. All week my coach and team discussed that taking a foot off the gas even just a slight bit at the front end of the race can benefit anyone greatly in context to the entire race.
Q: What do you think has been your best race of the fall season?
A: I believe my best performance of the fall was at the PIAA state championship. In a sport that essentially begins in the summer, peaking and running your best races at the end of the season becomes a skill of sorts. In regard to that, I think my team and I executed well and were able to succeed where it mattered.
Q: Briefly describe for us your pre-race preparation (physical, mental) on the day of a race.
A: My pre-race routine consists of eating a meal 3 1/2 to four hours out from the gun, an easy, 10-minute jog an hour out, dynamic and static stretching, and finally 4-6 striders about 10 minutes beforehand.
Q: Tell us a little about your running shoes, the type of shoe you favor and why.
A: For training, I favor Brooks because I prioritize support in my shoes to avoid any kind of injury. For racing, almost the opposite is true as I prefer Nike because they are so lightweight.
Q: What sparked your original interest in competitive running?
A: My original interest in running was sparked in elementary and middle school as I began running competitively and learned that I had decent talent, and could nurture that to a point where I could become a fairly good runner. I then came to love the sport for so much more as it has become such a large part of my life.
Q: What has been the most important thing you have learned in cross-country this fall?
A: One of the most important things that I have learned this season is how much the people you surround yourself matter and affect you. This season, as well as the past two, I have toed the start line with an incredible group of runners, friends, and coaches, and they are an extremely large part of my success.
Q: What’s your favorite local running venue and why?
A: My favorite running venue is Philadelphia; I enjoy being in urban areas when I run to keep things interesting.
Q: What aspect of your running are you working on most recently?
A: Most recently, my team and I have been working on both getting out fast and finishing foot speed in interval workouts.
Q: Do you participate in any other sports or extracurricular activities at Haverford High?
A: I participate in Future Business Leaders of America club, and the speech and debate club.
Q: What would you like to major in at college?
A: I would like to major in business, a field that interests me currently.
Fun Facts – Mike Donnelly
Favorite Book – Catcher In The Rye.
Favorite TV Show- The Office.
Favorite Movie- Catch Me If You Can.
Favorite Athlete- Walter Payton.
Favorite Pre Race Song- Phenomenal by Eminem.
Favorite Team – Eagles/Sixers.
Favorite Pre Race Meal – Baked penne.
Family members: parents Michael and Robyn, younger brothers Ian and Alec.
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)
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