When Angela Stauble stepped on the Husson University campus four years ago, the school didn’t have a cross country team, leaving the Amherst, N.H., native without a collegiate sport.
But she sought to change that, starting a running club at the school last fall. Eventually, that club became a varsity team.
Now, Stauble is leading six runners, including two Maine athletes, in Husson’s fledgling program. She has won all three races the Eagles have entered this fall, while coach Jim Karcanes’ club won its first meet last weekend at the UMaine-Presque Isle Invitational.
Not bad for an athlete who hadn’t done a lot of competitive running since high school.
“I feel very strong, especially compared to high school. Our head coach gave us a very good workout program for the summer to build strength and endurance,” said Stauble.
Stauble decided to start the running club when she realized how much she missed being part of a team.
“A bunch of us would meet, anyone who was interested in running would go out for runs during the school year,” she said.
There was subsequent interest in fielding a varsity team and then-Husson athletic administrator Cindy Connelly and Stauble collaborated. Once the budget for the squad was passed, Connelly gave the school the OK to start the team.
Karcanes, a 16-year veteran of the Army who has done two tours in Iraq, came on board as coach with four runners, including Stauble, which wouldn’t have been enough to compile a team score at meets.
Enter Kaitlin Noyes of Brewer, who transferred from the University of New England of Biddeford, and freshman Molly Frankinburger of Connecticut, and the Eagles had more than the required five runners to score as a team.
“They’re very hard workers. Myself and (assistant coaches Jen Dagan and Brendan Dagan) put together pretty detailed workouts for them and they’re coming (to practice) motivated. I’m very excited where everybody’s at.”
Rounding out Husson’s roster are Megan St. Laurent of Harpswell, Brittany Plante of Rhode Island and Theresa Martin of Vermont.
Even though Stauble still enjoyed running, training on her own didn’t provide the same thrill as training with a group.
“I missed the team aspect and I didn’t realize how important it is for not really self-improvement, but improvement as a whole,” she said. “You push each other and work together. Having a team is absolutely vital to being successful in a sport like cross country.”
Stauble has posted times of 15 minutes, 52.03 seconds over 4,000 meters in the UM-Farmington invitational and 21:14 (UNE Invitational) and 21:17 (UMPI Invitational), both at the 5K distance, this season.
The occupational therapy major certainly has a lot on her plate, as she also serves as a resident advisor at Husson and is in a challenging five-year program.
“Without a doubt, she’s a fantastic leader,” Karcanes said. “She goes out of her way to encourage the other runners, she’s truly a leader from the front.”
Stauble also designed Husson’s team T-shirts, and some team members participated in the Race for the Cure in Bangor over the weekend, which raises awareness for breast cancer.
Since the Eagles are a first-year program competing in the North Atlantic Conference, their expectations are fairly realistic.
“Three meets into it, I’ve seen what our runners are capable of,” said Karcanes.
The additions of Frankinburger, who has developed into a solid No. 5 runner, and Noyes, a versatile athlete who excelled from everything from distance to pole vaulting at Brewer, have helped.
“We’ve come together really well. We’re small but it just strengthens our friendships. We’re all very supportive of each other,” Stauble said.
Stauble was a bit apprehensive at first how her body would react to competitive running again after a few years away from the sport.
“That was my only concern, not running for several years and then jumping back into the competitive atmosphere,” she said. “It seems to have worked out really well.”
Now, with a Division III program in the Greater Bangor area, Stauble and Karcanes both hope that they can land some of the area’s top runners who may not want to compete at the Division I level.
Husson’s next meet is the Colby College Invitational on Oct. 2.
Mower off to strong start
Melissa Mower had an outstanding senior campaign in leading the Bangor High School field hockey team to the Class A semifinals last fall. She has carried that success to the college ranks.
Mower, a freshman goalkeeper for the New England College (N.H.) Pilgrims, was recently named the Commonwealth Coast Conference Rookie of the Week, posting a 1-1 record while recording 28 saves, including 12 in a 3-1 victory over the University of New England.
Mower’s first game of the fall was in a 3-2 loss to Wellesley College on Sept. 15.
“I didn’t play the first two games of the season, then I started picking it up during practice, worked on a lot of skill that I hadn’t come into the program with,” Mower said.
Mower logged 20 minutes of game action Tuesday in the Pilgrims’ 5-3 loss to Plymouth State, not giving up a goal.
Coach Susan Murray doesn’t have a set rotation for every game, Mower said, so she has to be ready to play on a daily basis.
“You have to go into it really wanting to play. If you don’t look well during warmups you’re not going to play,” Mower said.
Mower is seeing her skills improving on a daily basis as she adapts to the faster college game.
“I would say that my quickness and footwork have been the main focus,” she said. “My lateral movement has improved a lot.”
Success often comes from humble beginnings in any sport. Mower looks back on her time at Bangor, from the adversity when she was younger to the success the Rams had her senior season, with a great sense of accomplishment.
“It’s amazing for me to look back and see what Bangor did and see how far I’ve come,” Mower said. “It definitely has been rewarding.”