T-D HS Cross Country

Winfield 17
Bishop McCort senior Melissa Winfield served as captain of the Crimson Crushers’ cross country team. Winfield qualified for the PIAA championships in cross country and will participate at Down Under Sports in July.

McCort’s Winfield to run Down Under

By: Mike Kovak

JOHNSTOWN — Like many students preparing to graduate from Bishop McCort High School, Melissa Winfield is planning a senior trip.
What makes Winfield’s trip unique is the location and the purpose.
She’s headed to Australia, where she’ll participate on the North Central Conference Cross Country Team at Down Under Sports. Winfield competes in Australia from July 2-10, then gets to spend three days at a Hawaiian retreat. Three days after her return, Winfield leaves for basic training with the Air Force National Guard.
“I’m really looking forward to get to another country and compete with and against athletes from all the other states in addition to other countries,” said Winfield. “It’s going to be an amazing experience.”
Down Under Sports was founded in 1989 by George O’Scanlon, a New Zealand native with a fondness for the American version of football. O’Scanlon started the Down Under Bowl, an event that Conemaugh Township graduate Jordan Shroyer played in last year. Following the success of the football game, a basketball game was added and, eventually, additional events like cross country.
Winfield, who ranks among the top 10 in her class, found out in February that she had been invited to participate.
“At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go because I have basic training with the Air Force National Guard,” Winfield said. “When I found out I could go, it was exciting.”
It also means Winfield will be busy preparing for the trip.
A PIAA championship qualifier in cross country, Winfield was an easy selection as the Crushers’ team captain in the fall.
“During our cross country camp her junior year, members of the girls’ team (unknown to Melissa) approached me prior to voting for team captains,” Bishop McCort cross country coach Gregory Bixel wrote in his letter of recommendation for Winfield. “They asked if I would consider changing the ‘seniors only’ rule for captain selection as they felt Melissa was a better choice even then. Although impressed with their conviction; my staff and I decided to stay with our standing policy. The following year as a senior, Melissa was elected captain by nearly a unanimous vote of both the girls’ and boys’ teams.”
Winfield went on 30-minute runs when weather permitted between the fall and spring sports seasons in addition to lifting weights. She’s currently training for track season, when she will run in the distance events.
“I’m not one of the faster runners on my team, but they often pick people who would benefit from the experience of running against people from different places,” Winfield said.
She’s also fundraising for the trip. Her goal is to raise $5,000.
“I try to spend at least one day a week passing out sponsorship letters, trying to sell tickets and T-shirts,” she said. “I’m about halfway there.”
For fundraising information, call 242-3619.