All-Delco: James, Seifried are always on the run

MARPLE — To the casual observer, Cardinal O’Hara’s Kevin James and Sacred Heart’s Emma Seifried appear to be as different as two people can be.

James, a senior, is gregarious, outgoing and always has a smile on his face. Seifried, a freshman, is quiet and reserved, much of which can be attributed to her youth.

Yet that’s where their differences end. They share more in common than most people realize. Both are fierce competitors, as their opponents can attest. James and Seifried have something else in common. For both, athletics is a family affair.

James runs cross country and track with two of his younger brothers, Ryan and Patrick. Seifried plays four sports with her twin sister, Hannah. The Seifrieds are on the cross country, field hockey, swimming and track teams together at Sacred Heart.

You know what they say about the family that plays together.

James and Seifried share one other thing in common: They’re the Daily Times male and female Runners of the Year in cross country.

For James, this is the second straight year he has been named Runner of the Year. It’s the first for Seifried. She is the first freshmen to earn Runner of the Year honors since Archbishop Carroll’s Amanda Bascelli in 2006 and the third since 2005. Radnor’s Katie Lally was the ROY that year.

Joining James and Seifried on the All-Delco team are: Ryan James, Rob Morrow, Drew Pastore, Olivia Arizin, Grace Mancini, Elizabeth Mancini and Sara Hayes from Cardinal O’Hara, Springfield’s Liam Galligan, Ryan Rastatter and Sean Sullivan of Bonner-Prendergast, and Claire Wolters and Isabel Cardi from Strath Haven.

Kevin James, Olivia Arizin and Grace Mancini are repeat selections. James, who is headed to Syracuse University, is a three-time, first-team All-Delco selection. Grace Mancini was the female Runner of the Year in 2013. James, Pastore, Rastatter and Wolters are seniors. Morro, Sullivan and Grace Mancini are juniors. Ryan James, Galligan, Arizin, Hayes and Cardi are sophomores. Seifried and Elizabeth Mancini are the only freshmen on the All-Delco team, which was selected by the Daily Times sports staff in consultation with county coaches.

James and Seifried were the easy choice for Runners of the Year.

All James did was win the Delco, Catholic League and District 12 Class AAA championships for the second straight year. He was second in the PIAA Class AAA championships, fourth at the Nike Northeast Regional and 61st at the Nike National Championships last Saturday in Portland, Ore. His time of 16 minutes, 14 seconds, was the second fastest ever run by a Pennsylvanian at the Nike Nationals.

Seifried won the Delco, Catholic Academies and District One Class A titles, and finished second at the PIAA Class A championship meet to two-time champ Marianne Abdalah of Vincentian. He second-place finish in Hershey was the highest by a freshman in all three classifications, male or female, by seven places.

She won Delcos by 17 seconds, the AACA championship by 22 seconds and the District One Class A crown by 33 seconds.

Seifried did all that while simultaneously playing field hockey. Playing two sports at the same time is no big deal for the Springfield resident.

“I just do it,’ she said. “I make it work out.’

It helps that her twin sister, Hannah, by her side in all four sports. That could explain why Emma Seifried prefers a hilly course over a flat layout. She likes the challenge of the hills and has become quite accomplished at going uphill, which is difficult for even the most seasoned of runners. Having her sister by her side keeps those competitive juices flowing.

“It’s cool,’ said Emma, who is 10 minutes older than Hannah. “We push each other.’

James can sympathize with Seifried. He knows what it’s like to have a sibling on the team or in his case, two siblings. The difference for him is that he’s the oldest.

“It’s always interesting and you always have people to run with,’ James said. “It’s nice to line up at a race with your brothers. It makes you feel comfortable, especially at practice. I think having me here made them feel a little more comfortable. They had someone to show them around.’

James had plenty of mentors, guys like Dan Savage, Ernie Pitone and Jim Belfatto, just to name a few. They were the veterans when he was a freshman and sophomore, and showed him the O’Hara way.

“They brought the best out of me,’ James said. “Those workouts were pretty competitive. They taught me how to compete and helped me gain a lot of experience. I’m just thankful I had a chance to run with them.’

They also taught him how to lead so that by the time James was named as one of the team captains as a junior, he was ready for the task, especially this season. “I had to take a leadership role and make sure the other guys are doing things the right way,’ James said. “I didn’t have to do that my freshman and sophomore years.’

James also ran with a little more pressure this year. He was the man to beat, the runner everyone targeted, yet it didn’t bother him. He said he never felt the pressure.

“I like it when other runners are gunning for me,’ James said.’ It makes the race interesting and makes me run better.’

The only heat James put on himself was to get his college decision out of the way as early as possible, which he signed with Syracuse in the November.

“It just makes things a lot easier,’ James said. “I can focus on school and training. I know that for some kids, trying to pick a college becomes a distraction and they don’t run as well. I didn’t want that to happen to me. That’s why I wanted to get it out of the way as soon as possible.’

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