|Pavelko...Saving the Best for Last||09/21/2011|
Cresson—For three straight years, Carol Pavelko has been a member of the Mount Aloysius cross country team. For three straight years, she has finished dead last in every one of the team’s races. And, she is not just the last to finish for her team—she is the last to finish for the entire field.
In the Mounties’ recent participation in the Westminster College Invitational, Pavelko, as usual, finished the 6K event in last place, with a time of 57:32. Comparatively, St. Vincent College’s Ivette Mejia, the race’s winner, finished in a time of 22:49—nearly three times faster than Pavelko.
While others would have understandably been discouraged by these types of repeated results, Pavelko keeps chugging along. The word “discouraged” does not seem to be in her vocabulary.
“I keep doing it because I enjoy it,” Pavelko said. “It brings balance to my life.”
Pavelko graduated in 2002 from South Point High, in Provo, UT, where she was born and raised. Her mother was originally from Portage, and her father from Northern Cambria. Pavelko’s father was a coal miner and relocated to Utah for a new job.
In 2006, Pavelko moved to western Pennsylvania and enrolled at Mount Aloysius. That is when a campus flyer looking for interested cross country runners caught her eye.
“I was really curious about getting into running,” Pavelko said of the flyer. “I was not exactly thinking about joining the team. But I thought they would at least give me some pointers on how to run.”
When Pavelko, finishes a race, an unusual phenomenon occurs. The other runners, most of which have long been done and already changed out of their uniforms, gather to cheer for Pavelko as she crosses the finish line. It is not just Pavelko’s teammates, either. It is the runners from the other teams, too.
“We all love Carol,” Nicole Binnie, a sophomore on the Mounties cross country team, said. “She is awesome. She never quits, and she is an inspiration to everyone.”
Mounties senior captain Connor Walsh echoed those sentiments. “(Pavelko) has more determination than any other runner out there,” Walsh said.
Pavelko is grateful for the other runners’ gesture. “I really like it, and I really like my teammates,” she said with a smile.
After Pavelko’s first season on the team, head coach Marilyn Gregory presented her with the Coach’s Award at the College’s annual athletic banquet, for her unwavering determination.
“She never ran a day in her life before joining the cross country team,” Gregory said. “She enjoys the health benefits and is just an inspiration to the team.”
Mount Aloysius President Tom Foley applauds Pavelko’s efforts, and is cognizant of the bigger picture. “At Mount Aloysius, our goal is to win every game, and every match. But we have other goals in mind, too.
“Sometimes it is a matter of understanding that there are life lessons to be learned, and that in the end, the race is really against yourself. In a sport like cross country, it is often about going out and achieving your personal best.”
Pavelko is an English/Secondary Education major, with aspirations of becoming a high school English teacher. But Pavelko has a running aspiration, too.
“Of course, I want to improve my times. But I want to be able to still be running 20 years from now. That is one thing I hope to get out of this,” Pavelko said.