La Salle seniors racking up awards in track

Posted: March 09, 2014

IF ONE WERE to look at the roster from the 2010-11 La Salle track and field team, few names would stand above the rest, especially among underclassman. There was plenty of potential, sure, but no names that were going to be surefire stars.

As 2013-14 indoor track season comes to a close, two names from that team have made themselves not only stars, but legends when it comes to La Salle track and field. Meghan McGlinchey and Alfredo Santana have run themselves into not only the La Salle record book, but the Atlantic 10 record books.

Both were named the most outstanding track performers at the A-10 championships in late February, becoming only the third pair from the same school to receive the honor. Santana became the first A-10 runner in history to win the indoor 3,000 and 5,000 meters in back-to-back years. McGlinchey ran the women's 3K and 5K in A-10 record time and qualified to run the latter in the NCAA Indoor Championships that begin next Friday.

The trophies they received at the A-10 event were just the latest of a long list of awards they have accrued over the past 2 years.

"They are both extremely hard workers that want to get everything out of whatever they do," coach Dan Ireland said. "It's been fun. They are great leaders; the team respects both of them at a high level; and I couldn't ask for two better kids to work with."

McGlinchy holds three school records and two A-10 records. Santana has been named most outstanding runner four times by the A-10. Both have earned Academic All-Conference statuses. While they have been raking in the awards and medals of late, it has not always been easy for the two seniors.

"When I got both of them, their first couple of years they both showed flashes of greatness, but they were very inconsistent," Ireland said. "Meghan had problems with anemia her first 2 years that they didn't know about. Alfredo came in really excited, but he was a little too excited. He overtrained, got hurt, overtrained, got hurt, so he was frustrated. He showed some flashes."

McGlinchey, who went to West Deptford High School, struggled in her first 2 years at La Salle. She was not producing the way she thought she would, and nobody knew why. She was getting frustrated until doctors finally diagnosed anemia.

"Being anemic, I didn't know what was going on," McGlinchey said. "We didn't know if I had mono or anything like that, and I kept getting tested, and they would come back negative, so I thought it was in my head and I wasn't tough enough."

When both McGlinchy and Santana got healthy, the flashes Ireland saw became more consistent. Both display great work ethics, but with running, the little things matter more than in many other sports.

"As a coach, you would like to think everyone on your team works as hard as those two, but, to be honest, it is the little things that make the difference," Ireland said. "We have kids that can run just as many miles a week. We have kids that might be a little more talented, or the same, but it is the attention to detail that probably neither one of them had their first 2 years here."

Santana said: "It is a lot less physical than it is mental. You hear it a lot that running is way more mental than it is physical. Obviously, you have to be in good shape, but if you want to get 25 laps on the track, it is a really hard thing to do, so you have to be mentally fit and able to do that."

Whether it was doing extra stretching after practice, taking ice baths or getting a good 8 hours of sleep per night, both did the little things that led to their success. Santana, who went to Nueva Esperanza Charter, only 3 miles south of La Salle, was not heavily recruited out of high school, and that fuels him every time he steps on the track.

"You always think about stuff like that," Santana said. "The guys who got heavily recruited, granted, you can't help but think what kind of scenario you would be in if you were good in high school, but I run with a chip on my shoulder all the time. Not just to represent myself, but for my team, my family."

When all is said and done, McGlinchey and Santana will be remembered as two of La Salle's best runners. Yet, they do not care much for the accolades that will hang in the offices underneath McCarthy Stadium. They want to be remembered in other ways.

"I don't seem like the same person as when I came in, because I have changed a lot in the last 5 years, but I want to be seen as someone who doesn't quit or doesn't give up," McGlinchey said.

"I'm here having fun," Santana added. "If I get school records, I get school records. If I get titles, I get titles. The main thing is I want to be known as the guy that was having fun while he was doing it. A guy that truly loved running for running."

On Twitter: @AndrewJAlbert01

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