There was a time Morgan McFadden ran track to stay in shape for soccer.
Now, it’s her No. 1 sport.
“I started doing track in grade school, and I did it because it helped for soccer, too,” said McFadden, who was a defender for the Ragdolls this year. “It kept me in shape. I feel like my main sport is track now. I enjoy playing it more than I do soccer. I never thought it would be that way, I played soccer since I was really little, I never thought I would love another sport more, but now track is my favorite sport.”
Now she’s a champion in her favorite sport, too.
The Ragdolls, led by Amirah Nesmith, who won three individual events, and Olivia Smiarowska, who picked up a gold and two silver, won the 2023 Catholic League Girls Indoor Track and Field Championship at Lehigh University last week.
Ryan scored 176 points, good enough for first place. Bonner-Prendergast took second with 130 points, Cardinal O’Hara placed third with 45 points and Little Flower took fourth with 36. St. Hubert finished in 10th place.
On the boys side, La Salle took first place with 126 points, Father Judge took second with 100.05 and Roman took third with 80 points. Ryan placed eighth with 17 points.
“I tried not to find out the score until the end, but someone told me we were up 40 points by the last event, but I wasn’t looking at the scores all meet because I wanted to find out at the end,” said McFadden, who lives in Somerton. “But someone told me we were ahead by so much. I was so happy. It was a release. Four years of getting second place, finding out we won was so exciting.
“All the years of finishing second, and it was always to Bonner-Prendie, but this year I thought we were going to be really good. Everyone is so dedicated, all the seniors wanted to win so they gave all they got and we did. We won. It means everything.”
Led by coach Roger Munsey, the Ragdolls who qualified for the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association indoor state championship will run again on Sunday at Penn State.
According to McFadden, he had a lot to do with the success of the runners.
“He’s helped us all in so many ways,” said McFadden, who typically competes in hurdles, but also took part in the high jump and long jump, where she placed. “He’s not just our coach, but he’s a friend to all of us. He’s always there for us. And as a coach, he just pushes you to do things that you never thought you’d be able to do. I think that’s what we did here. I don’t think many people expected us to win.“
The championship was the perfect way to end her indoor track career. And it also gives her a lot of confidence heading into the outdoor season.
If the Ragdolls could be the best girls team in the Catholic League during the indoor season, why can’t they do the same in the spring, when outdoor season begins.
“I think we can definitely win the outdoor season,” McFadden said. “It’s hard. Bonner-Prendie is so good. But we can do it, too. We just have to keep getting better.”
That hasn’t been a problem for McFadden or her teammates.
She credits the culture of the Ryan track team with giving them the confidence, and more importantly, the work ethic, to be the best in the Catholic League.
“I want people to know the Ryan track team is more than a team, it’s a family,” McFadden said. “Everyone is so welcoming. You make friendships you never thought you would. And everyone works so hard, it makes you enjoy going to practice. You think track practice isn’t fun, you think it’s just running a lot, but it’s also a lot of fun and you’ll enjoy going. If they come out, they realize I meant what I said. I love being a part of the track team.”
This will likely be her final year competing for her school. She would like to go to college, but plans on running for a club or possibly intramurals. The bulk of her attention will be on her studies.
“I’m still looking, I want to run for a club, maybe do something like that to stay in shape,” McFadden said. “I want to do ultrasounds radiology. I just take work really seriously. It’s tough, I know I want to do something in the medical field, nursing fields are so competitive. I think I can see myself doing the radiology. I like the medical field because I enjoy interacting and talking to others, and if I could help someone, I want to. It’s a good field to help people.”
Just as Ryan was a great place to run for, and she’s proud of the legacy this team left.
“Since we won, I believe if we work harder and continue what we’re doing, we can win the outdoor season,” McFadden said. “That would be crazy, ending senior year with two wins. It would be amazing!”
First-Team All-Catholic selections from Ryan are Henrietta David, Kaylee Michalczyk, Amirah Nesmith, Olivia Smiarowska, Shania Williams, Natalie McFadden, Chelsea Ritter, Aleah Lazar and Corey Demas.
Second-team All-Catholic selections include Williams, Morgan McFadden, Smiarowska, Anna Lombardi, Spring Garner, Lazar, as well as the relay teams of Lombardi, Molly Kennedy, Jenna Contino and Natalie McFadden, and Nesmith, Lombardi, Kennedy and Ritter, and Jake Kelly.
Third-team members were Ritter, Kamden Sanders and Jake Cahill.