Student Athlete Column: Reflection on a Challenging Season


Mascetta reflects on her Fordham journey with enthusiasm. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Taylor Mascetta, Staff Writer

At long last, Halloween’s arrived. But for us cross country runners, something a little scarier fittingly comes along this weekend too — conference championships. Months of blood, sweat and tears poured into this one race. 

So what happens when it doesn’t exactly go your way?

On one hand, the women’s team placed 13th. We came into the race wanting to place within the top half, so it was a disappointment for all of us. But on the other hand, every single one of us went up to the starting line and gave it absolutely everything we had. Nearly everyone ran a season’s best in the 5K, myself included. And I will say, the Atlantic 10 (A-10) is both underrated and stacked. We did what we could do, and there’s nothing else I could ask for. 

Last year’s A-10s was a massive breakthrough for me. I set a big PR and cracked the top 40, placing 39th. To say I was excited was an understatement. This year, I wanted to be in the top 25. Plot twist, I didn’t make the top 100, barely missing it in 102nd. A big disappointment for sure, but not entirely a downgrade. On the bright side, the time was only ten seconds off of last year’s. That just goes to show how much faster this conference has gotten over the past year.

I also came into A-10s wanting to break 19 minutes in the 5K. It’s been a goal of mine since freshman year. Admittedly, I’m not exactly a distance runner. Shorter distances like the 800m or the mile are more my forte. Cross country always comes as both a mental and physical struggle for me (hills are my worst nightmare). But this course was flat the whole way, save for one incline near the finish line. Nothing crazy. So when I ran 19:22, I was admittedly bummed at first not to cross that magical 19 minute mark. But I knew I fought hard, so that disappointment didn’t last long.  

It’s been a tough season, especially coming off of my injury last May. At this time six months ago, I could not walk. Summer training was far from smooth sailing, and I came into the fall with less miles under my belt than usual. But I trusted myself through the entire process, and while this season came with frustrations, there was never a moment where I decided to throw in the towel. I kept fighting no matter what. 

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from this cross country season, it’s the importance of gratitude. I’ve been blessed with the ability to run. Even better, I run for a Division 1 program at an exceptional university. I have incredible friends on and off the team, as well as an incredibly supportive, knowledgeable coaching staff. We know how to make the most out of the hardest of days. One undesired result doesn’t change any of that. I’m still standing.

Every year, teammates back home make personalized note cards for every person racing, saying good luck and hyping us up. I got quite a few. One drew Taylor Swift from memory. Another said I should pretend I was hopping out of the Fortnite battle bus. Even my favorite Mario Kart character, Rosalina, made an appearance. Every year I read these cards the night before the race, and I usually laugh for ten minutes straight. It really shows how much this team cares for each other. And while I love hitting a PR, having this love and support matters even more. 

We’ve got regionals up next, back on our home course at Van Cortlandt Park. I’m hoping to go out in a blaze of glory. But I’ve come a long way regarding results, and I’m grateful for it.