Syracuse’s Malone sisters can race together for 1st time since high school
Phillip Elgie | Staff Photographer
Resting on a shelf in Paul Malone’s office is a three-sided picture frame featuring his daughters. One side of the frame shows Margo Malone, Shannon Malone and Mary Malone donning St. Teresa of Avila cross-country uniforms together in middle school. Another frame advances a few years and showcases the trio in their North Hills (Pennsylvania) High School track and field uniforms.
The third frame remains barren.
Shannon, a junior, transferred to Syracuse from Virginia a year ago and will be eligible to run at SU for the first time this spring. She’ll join sisters Margo, a senior, and Mary, a sophomore, with a chance to fill the final frame with one year left to do so.
“Not everything is about pictures,” Margo said, “but to have the opportunity to all race together again means more than anything else.”
The reunion provides closure to Margo’s final go-around of competitive racing, and adds a glimmer of hope that all three will compete in and pose for a picture after a race this season. Syracuse doesn’t enter every runner into each meet so Mary, still developing, and Shannon, recovering from a back injury, aren’t guaranteed to travel with the team. They’ll hope to join Margo, SU’s standout, at a race this spring when the three sisters run together again.
“Who else has this opportunity to run and be with your family in school?” Margo asked. “We’re just a team, whether we’re on the track or not on the track.
“It’s really special to have my sisters here — again and for the last time.”
While both younger sisters are looking to embrace larger roles this season, Margo has set high expectations with her performance. The senior owns the school record in the 10,000-meter race with a time of 32:29.89 set at the Stanford Invitational last April.
Later that spring, Margo was the only SU woman to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships and later earned First Team All-American honors after finishing 7th in the 10,000-meter final.
“She’s such a talented runner,” head coach Chris Fox said. “We definitely like what we got with Margo.”
Margo has been leading the way for her sisters ever since she first began running cross-country in fourth grade, the first-year students could compete in athletics at St. Teresa’s — a school offering classes from preschool to 8th grade.
Mary chose Syracuse after a visit in her senior year of high school. An attempt was made to make the decision independently, but a fondness for the coaches, academics and the culture of success that surrounds the SU distance team weren’t the only factors swaying the youngest sister’s choice.
“I thought it would be really cool to be with Margo too,” Mary admitted.
The fall of 2014 allowed Margo and Mary to bond together throughout cross-country season, but Margo said it felt weird running with one sister and not the other.
In high school, the trio not only cherished the seemingly monotonous routine of “school, practice, dinner, homework, sleep, repeat,” while in-season, but held each other accountable to train at home. Accustomed to vacating the couch and running with her sisters in all conditions — even snow — Shannon felt she was missing something.
That November, in the hallway of Haven Hall, Mary heard the news from her parents that brought her to tears of excitement and joy. Shannon would be joining her sisters at Syracuse.
In the ultimate individual sport, running together still held special value, Shannon said. While still in the hallway, Mary hung up the phone and immediately called Shannon before finally calling across campus to Margo.
“Just the thought of having all of us here racing for Syracuse was amazing I almost had to cry,” Mary said. “The semester I had just me and Margo was really fun, but it didn’t feel right until (Shannon) got here.”
The chance of all three sisters competing in the same event this season is unlikely. During the indoor campaign all three will be focused on 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter races and during outdoor season Shannon and Mary will be running more 5,000-meter races while Margo sticks to improving her 10,000-meter time.
In high school, running events together was common. As the emphasis on pushing each other shifts more to practice, the sisters fondly remember their favorite shared memory — placing first, second and third in a cross-country tri-state coaches invitational.
Margo crossed the finish line, followed by Shannon and Mary. No words were exchanged as the trio was too out of breath, but the three hugged to celebrate the first, and only, time they’d finished 1-2-3 in a race of that magnitude.
“You always want to be the first one across the line,” Shannon said. “But it helps too when the person finishing before you and having success is your sister because you’ve shared so much with her.”
For the Malones, the photo is more than a 4×6 sheet. Years of hard work, countless miles and more moments than could be counted all would reach culmination with filling the final frame after racing together.
Three sisters, three pictures, three sets of uniforms — only one more season.
“I’m really excited to race and I’m really excited to be together again,” Shannon said. “Even if we’re not in the same race, even if I’m not anywhere near either of them, it’ll just be really cool to be wearing the same uniform.”
Published on January 27, 2016 at 10:22 pm
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