Weekly Feature

2017-04-19 / Sports

Former world-ranked runner returns to coach Sacred Heart track

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

Sue Epstein, who returns as Sacred Heart’s girls outdoor track and field head coach after five years, has accomplished a lot in her running career.

She’s the first female athlete to get a track scholarship to the University of Alabama and was a former NCAA All-American in cross-country. She was ranked 10th in the world in the women’s marathon in 1984 and competed in two Olympic Marathon Trials. She also represented the U.S. in the 5,000 meters at the Goodwill Games in Moscow, Russia.

But she didn’t always start out as an elite athlete. She got cut from the track team when she was a sophomore attending school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her running career as a sprinter/ jumper as a junior in Birmingham, Alabama, because she did not like running distance events.

“People think I had those goals all of my life, and I did not at all,” Epstein said.

She said she is humbled by her past running success and has used it as a tool to encourage this year’s team.

“The first meeting we had I made a PowerPoint presentation of where I started,” she said. “I told them that I had the talent but I didn’t know it.”

Epstein returns as the Sharks’ head coach in outdoor track in 2012 and 2013, and cross-country in 2011 and 2012. She was an assistant with the 2016 track team.

Epstein coaches the mid-distance and distance runners. Assistant coaches Annie Draves works with the jumpers and sprinters, and throwing coach Kevin Gibbons, whose mother started the track program at Sacred Heart.

Epstein works with 70 runners, including 10 throwers who are mostly underclassmen.

The team captains are seniors Claire Coughlin (sprints/relays), Emma Macoretta (throws) and Mary Gartland (distance), all four-year athletes.

Other big contributors to the team include seniors Claire Zwack (800/relays) and Alisa Schaefer (100, 200, relays), and juniors Claire Mastrandrea (mid-distance/ distance), a state qualifier in the 100 fly for swimming, Elizabeth Ishwardas (400), Sarah Wegman (distance) and Sarah Wack (distance).

Sacred Heart, 3-3 in the regular season, opens its season against Mount Mercy and Cardinal O’Hara at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, at St. Francis High School. For the team to have success throughout the season, Epstein said points will have to be scored in a number of events.

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