FSRC Memorial Scholarship Winners


Susasannah Auderset

Susannah participated in running prior to high school by participating in the Hugh B. Nolan track meets and various 5k and fun runs within Frederick.  Susannah began running competitively her freshman year and quickly became a three-season varsity runner.  She’s competed in multiple state meets for cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. Susannah was a part of Urbana High School’s 4A indoor state championship this past winter.  Susannah’s accomplishments are many, but she describes her setbacks as what taught her the most. At the end of Susannah’s sophomore year she pulled a hamstring and didn’t give it the time she needed to recover fully. As a result, she describes her running seasons through junior and the start of senior year as frustrating. She was not running as fast as she used to, and she felt weak. After several frustrating seasons, Susannah says she still was not breaking personal records, but she was running stronger than she ever did before.  “Injuries and mental blocks pushed me to fight back and persevere in the face of disappointment and frustration. Slow times taught me that the strength I feel while running is more valuable than trophies or ribbons. Running is so special to me because winning as a runner does not always mean a gold medal around your neck; in most cases it means races where I feel strong and free. It’s an outlet that everyone can use. I plan to keep running for as long as my legs allow me.” Susannah also enjoys working within her  community and giving back to others. Through Frederick Presbyterian Church’s youth group, Susannah participated in six volunteer trips. She helped to renovate houses in West Virginia and worked with veterans in North Carolina.  Susannah also participated in community service activities including mealing packing through Rise Against Hunger, collecting donations for Comfort Cases, and volunteering with children at FPC.  Susannah participated in volunteer activities through Urbana High School’s National Honor Society, National Math Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, and National Art Honor Society. She organized and ran a canned food drive at the Frederick County championship meet in spring of 2018, and collected over 250 for the City of Frederick Food Bank. Susannah also volunteered at Frederick’s Turkey Trot and the Frederick City Soup Kitchen. CJ Ecalano, the Urbana High School Cross Country and Track Head Coach, describes her as “someone who I will never forget, everything about her is remarkable. Her work ethic is simply second to none and can easily be seen in the classroom and on the track.

Marilyn Fisher

A Middletown High School graduate and National Honor Society member, Marilyn has been involved with running during her entire high school career. As a freshman, she made the varsity cross country team and ran on the varsity team for the remainder of her high school career. As captain of the team in her senior year, Marilyn and the Girls Cross Country Team qualified for States for the first time in over a decade. In her essay, Marilyn describes running as a sport that “is both classic and novel. Classic in that running doesn’t require special equipment, just one’s arms and legs. Novel in that running requires a unique mental strength, a psychological transcendence where the mind supersedes the logic of the body and pushes forward.” Alan Caldwell, MHS girl’s cross-country coach, says “she leads by example with her continuous desire to improve and incredible work ethic.” Marilyn’s relationship with the running community has led her to many volunteer opportunities, which she has embraced. She has served as race course monitor for both meets and races, and volunteers as assistant coach for a youth running program, the Middletown Knight Striders. Her desire to volunteer takes her beyond the running arena, as Marilyn has volunteered at Frederick Memorial Hospital for several years; her ultimate career goal to become a physician. She has been a coach for the Frederick County Knucklers, an officer for MHS Key Club and the Fellowship Christian Athletes Club, both student-led service organizations. According to Art Staus, Middletown Recreation Council and Marble Shooting Program Director, “Marilyn stands out as one of the most exceptional, well rounded, and caring young women that I have ever been fortunate to get to know.” He also says that at age 14, Marilyn proudly represented Middletown in the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, NJ and won, being crowned the Queen of the Marbles.” He continued to say, “She was professional yet competitive, focused yet compassionate.”

Nicholas Hildebrandt

The running community has been a big part of Nicolas’s life. When Nicholas was in elementary school, he joined a youth running club, “Frederick Athletic Academy,” coached by our very own Mark Lawrence (later called the Self-Propel Running Group). Nicholas describes Mark Lawrence as “a wonderful man who taught me running form, racing strategy, and pacing. Every day I would look forward to practice since I knew Coach Mark would have something new to teach me. Being in this youth group allowed me to appreciate running more, and it made me want to get involved in more activities.”  Nicholas continued to run with the youth running club through his middle school years. During his four years at Tuscarora High School, Nicholas participated in all three seasons of cross country, indoor, and outdoor track. All of his coaches throughout his running career helped Nicholas when he felt nervous or frustrated, helping him to eventually qualify for the state meets in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. Nicholas wrote, The life experiences of others can help to guide somebody in the right direction.” Nicholas joined the National Honor Society and volunteered at the local soup kitchen, Rescue Mission, and Humane Society.  After Nicholas’s high school practices, he returned to help Mark Lawrence with his youth running group. Nicholas describes his experiences volunteering as making him a stronger person.  He wrote, “The people I’ve met and helped throughout the years at these places have taught me to not take anything for granted, and to understand that everybody has different life stories and experiences.” In Mark Lawrence’s letter of recommendation, he wrote about the time Nicholas participated in Self Propel prior to high school. He wrote, “Not only was he capable of leading training groups as a result of his ability, but also because of his maturity and exceptional level of responsibility.  When Nicholas was there, we didn’t need a coach controlling the group from the front because he would lead responsibly and set an appropriate example for the others to follow”

Jessica Lakner

“Like many things in life, running requires mental strength, a drive to succeed, and dedication to yourself and most importantly, your team.”  Jessica Lakner, FSRC Memorial Scholarship Essay | Jessica participated in three seasons of cross country, four seasons of outdoor track, and one season of indoor track at Tuscarora High School.   Before running cross country her sophomore year, Jessica describes the fear she felt about how she would perform amongst other runners. Then she described the starting line of the Brunswick Invitational.  “My teammates by my side, heart pounding, eyes forward, and ready for the gun to go off, in that moment, I had found my new love for running.”  Jessica described the adrenaline from running a race with her team, bringing her to a new personal record.  She described the strong bond between teammates, helping them to be the first girls cross country team from Tuscarora to run at states.  Beginning in 2017, Jessica started running more miles to prepare for the Frederick Half Marathon.  She’s run the Frederick Half two times and the Mission Ten Miler this past spring. Commitment to team also helped Jessica in her everyday life.  She enjoyed a rigorous schedule of school, running, and giving back to the community.  Jessica volunteered at the Frederick Rescue Mission in their Food Distribution Center and preparing and serving dinner for residents of the Rescue Mission.  During her senior year, Jessica also volunteered two days a week in a 5th grade classroom at Butterfly Ridge Elementary School, working with small groups of students.  She used many of her life lessons from running to help the students. Jessica concluded her essay by stating, “Running has shown me that although life can be stressful, it can always be relieved with a long run where its just you, the wind, and your thoughts.” Jen Zdroik, the Tuscarora High School assistant coach, wrote, “Even though most workouts seemed impossible at the beginning, she was always a workhorse willing to put in the effort through to the end. One of her key accomplishments would have to be making it to the State meet in cross-country her junior year because alone, we didn’t have many qualifiers, but together we could make it to the meet. She played her part in that success. Besides her work ethic, I got to know the team dynamics and her role on the team; although she wasn’t the most gifted runner on the team, she was supportive and brought laughter to the group.”

Eamonn Law-Knotts

Eamonn was a part of the Catoctin running program since 2011, first as a member of the Catoctin Youth Association cross country and outdoor track teams, and later as a member of Catoctin High School Varsity Cross Country, Track and Field, and Indoor Track and Field Teams.  He served as team captain for cross country and track and field. While participating in the Catoctin Youth Association running program, Eamonn learned a lot from his first running coach.  He describes the focus of practices and meets on working hard, supporting each other, and having fun. His coach taught him the importance of being there for others by being a good listener, arriving early or staying late, and providing the occasional pep talk. Years of running taught Eamonn persistence and patience. He was able to manage the  demands of year round varsity running practices and meets, as well as achieving good grades with a challenging course load.  His experiences with running also taught him to be there for others. Eamonn lost two teammates to suicide. He describes the loss as a “painful reminder that what we do as individuals matters, being there for others matters, and doing something for the greater good has great power.” Eamonn remained active with the Catoctin Youth Association running program in Thurmont throughout his high school years.  He helped to run children’s track and cross country meets, attended by hundreds of young runners. He was a course leader, helped to mark courses, led kids to their events, and served as official timer.  Eamonn also served as a mentor to the Thurmont Middle School Science Olympiad Team, running their team practices after school. HIs junior and senior year he volunteered with Moveable Feast, a Baltimore based non-profit that provides food to people living with life threatening illness.  He ran the prepared meal packaging system, prepared ready to eat meals, packed produce bags, and helped with kitchen clean up. Additional volunteer opportunities include First Fruits Farm, community improvement projects such as planting trees, upgrading computers at school, cleaning computers, replacing stock components with faster ones, and dismantling old computers. John Steiner, the President of the Catoctin Youth Association, and head coach of the track and cross country team for Thurmont, Maryland, described Eamonn having a “strong work ethic, willingness to adapt, and commitment to succeed.”

Riley Schwee

Many of you may recognize this beautiful, talented young woman because perhaps you’ve run with her as an FSRC member. Rylee also just crushed the CAT 50K for a second time. Rylee’s essay opened with the reaction she receives when she tells people she is an 18 year old ultra runner. “Why would you do that to yourself?” “You’re insane.” Rylee describes running as “my passion and it constantly teaches me about my work ethic, my mind, and my body.” Rylee was not always a runner. Rylee played field hockey and basketball. Rylee started running her freshmen year when she saw her stepfather, Dan Cardenas, completing half marathons. Rylee started with a 10k. With the encouragement of her stepfather, she trained and ran a half marathon. Rylee describes running as addictive. “Once I got a taste of one mile, I wanted to do 3 or 4 more.” Rylee’s accomplishments include three half marathons, two marathons, three Ragnar relays, and three 50K’s. At the age of 16 Rylee ran the Catoctin 50K for the first time. As many of you know, Catoctin requires physical and mental strength, discipline, perseverance, and respect for the sport of ultra running. Larry Key spent much of his time running those same trails and would be very happy to know his scholarship went to someone who found joy in the mountains. Rylee wrote about how running did not just change her physical abilities, but her mental abilities too. Rylee recognizes the hours in miles and how many miles she could have run while she was sitting on her phone or watching television. Rylee’s interpretation of time shifted and so did her habits. Rylee said she started taking harder classes and putting in the extra effort to tutor others. She was involved in the organization of the 3k For Kindness, a race that Oakdale High School created to promote positivity in educational spaces. Rylee’s varsity basketball coach at Oakdale High School, Rob Healy, describes her as “respectful, professional, on time, ready to go and willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand.”

Gabriel Whisner

Drawn to running as a child, Gabriel overcame several genetic obstacles and surgeries before he began actively running in his sophomore year at Governor Thomas Johnson High School. He decided to join the Unified Track and Field team, which allowed him to compete individually but, more importantly to him, it allowed him to assist students with disabilities. In his scholarship essay, Gabriel stated “There is nothing more rewarding than helping your teammates with handoffs during a relay, encouraging them while running and seeing the smile on their faces when they finish a race. To me, that is more satisfying than winning any individual event. It is this desire to help others, which has been provided to me through running, that motivates me to give back to my community.” Gabriel’s coach, Scott Rippeon, describes him as, “ . . . someone who both seeks to do his very best, while also being willing and able to give of himself to others. His is a caring and conscientious spirit . . . “ At GTJHS, Gabriel is a member of the National Honor Society, the president of the Necktie Club, which promotes opportunities and professionalism for minority students, a member of the school’s Academic team, a three year delegate for the school’s Model United Nations organization. He is also a member of Rho Kappa, which supports community volunteer activities for the arts. In addition to school pursuits, Gabriel is active in his local church. He serves as leader of the Youth Department and is a member of the Men’s Choir. He has also served as co-coordinator of his church’s bi-annual food drive which helps members of the Frederick community. Gabriel has also volunteered for multiple years at the local Convoy of Hope, which provides food, medical and health services to community members. Having a deep interest in public healthcare, which he plans to study in college, Gabriel has served as an intern for the director of the Frederick County Health Department. Rev. Robert Ray, Pastor at Wayman A.M.E. Church, says Gabriel “exhibits all the characteristics of someone who is destined to be one of our future leaders of America.”


Madilyn Mandich

In 2016, Madilyn Mandich led the Tuscarora High School Cross Country Team to the Maryland State Championships for the first time in school history. However, running was not her first love. Madilyn left a long career of soccer to pursue running full time her junior year at Tuscarora High School. Running provided Madilyn with strength, a new attitude, and a purpose. She describes the butterflies in her stomach at first call, the adrenaline running through her blood before the gun, and the pain endured while competing. She loved the “brutal workouts” shared with her teammates, including hills, mile repeats, and trail runs. She says her teammates provided her with constant motivation and encouragement. Madilyn was a junior coach for the Ballenger Creek Elementary School Girls on the Run team, where she enjoyed helping the girls to grow confidence and realize their “limitless potential.”

Elly McGillvray

Elly McGillvray participated in the Potomac Valley Youth Association cross country and track during her middle school years. In high school, she ran cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track all four years for Brunswick High School. Her high school coach describes her as a leader through her support of her teammates and by the example she set as a distance specialist. In the fall of 2017, she lead her cross country team to winning the 1A Regional Championship. She placed 2nd in the individual standings. Elly’s accomplishments extend beyond running. She volunteered in the Random Acts of Kindness Club and the National Honor Society at Brunswick High School. She helped to keep score at youth sporting events, participated in tow mission trips, and with her church, helped rebuild houses destroyed by flooding. She has also volunteered at the JFK 50 Miler and Frederick Half Marathon.

Brennan Straits

Brennan Straits began running as a youth member of the Middletown Knight Striders and continued running through middle school until it culminated in a successful career in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track at Middletown High School. Like many runners, Brennan has had to persevere through injuries and life’s obstacles, not only to become the runner the he is today, but the person. In addition to his accomplishments on the track and cross country course, Brennan has been very active in his volunteering efforts as well. Brennan spends one week each summer traveling with his church’s youth group on projects like painting a house in Rochester, NY, building a retaining wall and fence in Pittsburgh, PA, and rebuilding a porch in Thomasville, NC. Whether he is providing service through Group Mission Trips, or supporting his local community through Empty Bowls banquets, Brennan knows and appreciates the satisfaction of being able to give back. Brennan’s dedication to the sport, the activity, and the pursuit of a life spent running can best be summed up in his own words – “I have traveled, I have cried, I have laughed, and I have run through it all.” 

Alexa Tarzy

Alexa Tarzy was a member of Oakdale High School’s cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams since the beginning of her freshman year. She was captain of all three teams since her junior year. Her inspiration came from her father and brother who both have successful running careers. Alexa states she was introduced to numerous driven individuals through running who motivated her towards volunteering. Alexa was a peer tutor, student ambassador, and a member of multiple honor societies at Oakdale High School. Outside of school she volunteered at Rehab 2 Perform and Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen. Alexa’s goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. She spoke to what Rick and Larry represent when she stated, “the mentality of runners transfers to the attitude of the individual – to work hard in school is equivalent to the drive to finish a race,” and “running unites the mind and body.”


Reilly Caldwell

Starting with the Middletown Knight Striders at the age of eight, Reilly has been an avid runner throughout elementary, middle and high school. With all of her running experience it was natural that she would share her experience with others, coaching, and planning workouts for twenty plus young runners this past fall.

Not all has been easy going. An irritated metatarsal followed by a fractured sesamoid bone taught Reilly to “Listen to doctor’s orders”.

Her coach, Paul Spurrier wrote, “… She is a great teammate… a positive leader that goes out of her way to be support for any and all her teammates”.

Heading to Furman University in the fall of 2017, Reilly looks to continue running and volunteerism with the team at Greenville Children’s Hospital.

From her essay:

“Running has taught me patience in the face of adversity” … “Running has shaped what I want to do in college…. I want to focus on biomechanics”.

Catie Lee

Catie attended Frederick High where she was the Senior Class President. Her running career started early with the FAA Running Club under the direction of Mark Lawrence. She has a long history of running. Tearing an ACL in February 2016, Catie rehabbed in five months to run cross country events sporting a knee brace.

With a strong history of volunteerism to match her running resume, Catie met and exceeded all that we are looking for in a scholarship winner.

From Catie’s scholarship essay:

“Running is not about being the fastest. It’s not about being the strongest. It’s not about winning, running is about heart and character” …… “Running is not just a sport; it is a way of life”

Tim Rivard

Dealing with setbacks was a part of Tim Rivard’s running career at Urbana High School.   

After a stellar sophomore year running with the Varsity Cross Country Team, Tim hit a rough patch, dealing with a series of injuries, flu, and bronchitis. Missing spring track, he trained hard over summer break just to break his heel three days prior to the start of cross country.

Tim decided to stay with the team volunteering as team manger during his junior year returning to the team as a Senior Captain the next.

From his essay Tim wrote, “It wasn’t the actual running that had the biggest impact on the person I am today; it was the NOT running that did” …..  “it taught me how to take setbacks in stride and keep moving forward.

Hannah Ropp

A twelve season runner at Brunswick High School, Hannah began running and volunteering early in life, joining the Blue Ridge Express Running Club when she was in fourth grade, even earlier with a lemonade stand, raising dollars for Hurricane Katrina residents when she was six.

In addition to running cross country, and indoor and outdoor track, Hannah was a top student, class officer, and somehow found time to be a violinist. (Seated as first violin with the Frederick Regional Youth Symphony)

From her essay:

“I have enjoyed opportunities where I can directly help those less fortunate than me” ….. “My values and goals are important to me: running and volunteering help me to achieve them.”

Braden Smolko

Dreading PE “Mile Day” in elementary and middle school, Braden struggled to keep up with his classmates. “Heavy legs” plagued him, as well as weight and self- image issues.

Heading to Urbana High School, with an understanding of his condition, Braden changed his diet and constructed a training plan with his mother to try out for the Urbana Cross Country Team. A 16:30 two mile time was required; with hard summer work behind him Braden sprinted to the finish in just under 16:30.

From just barely making the team to senior captain, Rev. Chris Bishop (Character Coach for Urbana) wrote, “Braden’s humble leadership is amazing to watch. He doesn’t lead out of a feeling of athletic superiority, or any expectation that power is owed him because he is a senior. He leads because he wants everyone to get better.”

Perhaps his experience in elementary and middle school led him to creating an anti-bullying website as a freshman. (ncourageteens.com). He has participated in multiple volunteer trips to Haiti, community service work, and tutors other students struggling with math.

From his essay:  “My volunteer activities have made me realize I can make a difference” …… “Overcoming my own challenges made me want to give back to others” ….


Blake Capella

Blake Capella set the bar high as one of the first recipients of the Frederick Steeplechasers Running Club Memorial. Blake ran throughout high school. While he may have quick feet with 5:12 mile and 17:59 5k PR’s, what sets Blake apart from others is his character.

Blake’s volunteer work is extensive. In addition to volunteering for aid stations at local ultra races, he has volunteered at the Walkersville Community Food Bank and participated in the United Way’s Summer Serve Program. He was also the vice president of the National Honor Society at Walkersville High School, and facilitated volunteer events such as Relay for Life and a Thanksgiving food drive.

Anna Hartman

Anna Hartman stands out as the first deserving honoree of the inaugural FSRC Memorial Scholarship in 2016 because of her commitment to serving runners, her strong character, and selflessness. You would never know Anna was a teenager when runners pull into one of her aid stations, be it Rick’s Run or the C&O Canal 100. She greets each runner as if they are family, anticipates their needs, and provides them with fuel and encouragement to finish the race.

Anna participated in 12 seasons of running as a high school athlete, becoming captain for indoor and outdoor track during her senior year. She is proud to have qualified for states with her cross country team her junior and senior years.

Running for Anna though is about more than competition. At Rick’s Run in 2016, Anna successfully challenged her boundaries of distance by running three loops. “I just felt so good – so encouraged, so happy, so blissful. That’s what running is about to me. Not running for competition, but for the spirit of the run.”