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Haverford High runner Mike Donnelly is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

Haverford High runner Mike Donnelly holds the first-place trophy aloft at the recent Abington Invitational.

The Ford senior finished in first place at the recent Abington Cross Country Invitational, posting a time of 16:16 and allowing Haverford to finish first in the boys’ race in a field of 22 teams. Last fall, Donnelly, the All-Delco Cross Country Runner of the Year, finished in 15th place at the PIAA state cross country meet and he led the Fords to their first Delco Meet team title. Off the track, Donnelly is a member of the National Business Honor Society.

Q: What was your most vivid memory of the Abington Cross Country Invitational? What do you think was the key to your performance that day?

A: My most vivid memory of the race was really just in regard to some cramping in my left leg that came my way during the third mile, but I was in a comfortable place, so I wasn’t too worried. The key to my performance was definitely confidence. I got off the bus telling myself that I could win with some authority and that the team was going to do well. 

Q: Can you tell us a little about the course and the weather conditions at the Abington Cross Country Invitational?

A: The course and weather both provided near perfect conditions. The grass was a touch towards the softer side due to some preceding rain the night before, but that had little-to-no effect. The team and I were overall thrilled with the setting.

Q: What do you think has been your best race of your Haverford High cross-country career to date?

A: My performance at States last November was very solid. Being 15th as a junior is a fair accomplishment and I was proud of the effort I gave up at Hershey. 

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 4 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. Mentally, if it’s a big race, I will have headphones on and be fine tuning my mind. Running, in my opinion, is the most mental sport or any. Being sharp between the ears is crucial. 

Q: Tell us a little about your running shoes, the type of shoe you favor and why.

A: I favor Brooks. I find that they have a fair balance between being lightweight and supportive. 

Q: What’s your favorite local running venue and why?

A: I love running to and in Philly. The team and I have a classic route that we will take down to City Hall as a long run from school. Typically we’ll take the downhill route down, get some food, and take the train home. 

Q: What aspect of your running are you working on most recently?

A: Right now, being that it’s early in the year, the squad and I are getting a lot of good mileage and getting our strength in for the times in the near future when we will need it. 

Q: Tell us a little about your off-season training this summer. As a runner, do you have an “off-season”?

A: There is certainly no off season as an elite runner. At the most we will take off a couple of weeks after cross country or outdoor track, but the next thing is always around the corner demanding at least some sense of fitness. The way Haverford sees it, and I’m sure plenty others, summer prepares one for the fall and the winter prepares one for the spring. With that in consideration, there is always work to be done. 

Q: What is your favorite course at Haverford High?

A: My favorite course this year thus far has been my statistics class. Running is all about the numbers! 

Fun facts – Mike Donnelly

Favorite book: Running with the Buffaloes. 

Favorite TV show: The Office. 

Favorite movie: The Dark Knight. 

Favorite athlete: Walter Payton.

Favorite pre-race pump-up song: Phenomenal by Eminem. 

Favorite team: Eagles, Sixers. 

Favorite pre-race meal: “Pasta of course.” 

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.)

To view a photo gallery of the Main Line Boys Athletes of the Week from 2013 to date, click here

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