SU cross country teams build momentum

Freshman Mikhayla Sabo and Junior Achol Odlla racing in the Shannon Henretty Invitational. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Freshman Mikhayla Sabo and Junior Achol Odlla racing in the Shannon Henretty Invitational. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

The Stevenson cross country program hopes to have a strong 2019-2020 campaign. The women’s team looks to win a Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) title, and the men’s team hopes to add more depth while building on last year’s success.

Dave Berdan is the head coach for both men’s and women’s cross country. (Photo from

Last season the men’s team placed second in the MAC, for the second consecutive season behind the leadership of 2019-2020 senior Patrick Watson. The women’s team finished fifth in the MAC.

Currently, both the men and women are coming off a strong home weekend. As host to the Shannon Henretty Invitational, the men swept first through seventh-place in the standings while the women took the first eight spots in their race, according to

Dave Berdan, head coach for both the men’s and women’s cross country teams, believes the women are geared for a season that even the team themselves would be surprised about. He said that the MAC championship title is attainable, and regionals are less of a stretch than most people would believe.

“It’s exciting to watch them work together as a pack now, pushing each other,” he said regarding the women runners.

The confidence Berdan is showing in his young women’s team is promising, considering his own coaching resume. In his time as head coach at Stevenson University, he’s led the men’s team to their best finish in program history and has coached a total of 11 All-Conference student-athletes as of the 2017 season, according to

While the men’s team also hopes to have a successful season, their goals vary from those of the women’s team. Both Berdan and his assistant, Nick Shaw, emphasized the need for a fourth and fifth running spot to be filled on the men’s side, in order to add needed depth to the team.

Freshman Mikhayla Sabo and Junior Achol Odlla race in the Shannon Henretty Invitational. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

The men have started the season well, posting a seventh-place team finish at the Mount St. Mary’s 5k Duals in Emmittsburg, Md., and a first-place finish at the Shannon Henretty Invitational on Stevenson’s Greenspring campus, according to

Watson has been a big part of the men’s early success and will continue to be. Berdan praised Watson for his 15th-place finish last year at Nationals. With Watson leading, coupled with support from fellow seniors Nikita Kulick and Iddriss Iddriss, the men’s team is in good hands.

Next, the men’s and women’s teams travel to Lebanon, Penn., on Sept. 25, where they will compete in the Elizabethtown Short Course Invite. An alumnus and Hall of Famer of Elizabethtown, Berdan joked that his team would have no advantage even though he attended college there. However, he said, he wouldn’t mind a win.

The MAC championship is still over a month away. This leaves ample time for both the men and women to train, with the ultimate goal of winning the event. This aligns perfectly with both Berdan and Shaw, who believe the process of the season is the ultimate philosophy to reaching peak performance come the conference championship.