FSRC Memorial Scholarship Winners


Kamsi Obuekwe – Tuscarora HS

Kamsi Obuekwe is from Tuscarora High School. Kamsi started his running career with the Frederick Striders at age 9. He later ran for Self-Propel with Mark Lawrence. During high school Kamsi ran cross country at the same time as he performed with the marching band. Kamsi noted in his essay that both were very rewarding as he learned about commitment, dedication, overcoming pains and injuries, disappointments, and most importantly, gaining friendships and personal growth. Kamsi also ran track and field at Tuscarora High School. He said, “All my coaches from youth running clubs and high school taught me dedication and discipline.” Kamsi has run the Mission 10 Miler and the Frederick Half Marathon. Through the Mission 10 Miler he learned about the Frederick Rescue Mission. He began volunteering at the Rescue Mission soon afterwards. Kamsi describes himself as an introvert. He says running helped him to get out of his shell and relate to others. He wrote “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”(Mahatma Gandhi)

Diya Jha – Thomas Johnson HS

Diya Jha from Thomas Johnson High School is a 2023 FSRC Memorial Scholarship recipient. Diya is a dynamic person with a wide variety of passions. She ran track for 2 years, but says she continues to run every day. She wrote, “I appreciate the exhilaration of working hard at something physically challenging and find satisfaction in pushing myself to set and continue beating my personal goals.” Diya showed perseverance by taking a traumatic life experience and making something good out of it. She started “Let’s Talc (Teach, Access, Learn, Choice – Drugs & Opioids Awareness Program)”. The program helped teenagers who are at risk of getting into drug addiction by providing the tools to overcome addictive habits.

Ryan Stuart – Middletown HS

Ryan Stuart of Middletown High School is our third and final FSRC Memorial Scholarship recipient. To say Ryan is hard working is an understatement. Ryan participated in six sports in the same year during his senior year. He played soccer and football in the fall, ran indoor track and volunteered for Unified Bocce in the winter, and played lacrosse and ran outdoor track in the spring. Ryan stated, “I think everyone can appreciate that running is a great activity for fitness, but it is also a great activity for friendships.” Ryan has volunteered for finish line help for FSRC races. Volunteerism is another strength of Ryan’s. He entered Boy Scouts in first grade and continued through his childhood to later earn his Eagle Scout award. Ryan recognizes that sometimes the activities performed by volunteers are the only way some people, and some organizations, can get the help they need. He wrote, “the days are long, and the work is hard, but I have learned that you ALWAYS feel good afterwards, knowing you helped someone.”


Benjamin Weatherhead – Brunswick HS

Benjamin Weatherhead started running at age 5 when he joined the Potomac Valley Youth Athletics (PVYA) Blue Ridge Express Running Club.  He continued his running career at Brunswick High School where he ran cross country and track. Benjamin refers to the Zumbachs as “the best coaches.”  Their passion and commitment inspired Ben to work hard at practices, improve his PR, and eventually led to a Brunswick HS state championship.  Benjamin stated in his scholarship essay, “I believe that the discipline I learned by running changed my work ethic for the better. I have learned to persevere through tough situations.”  

Benjamin was an active part of his community as an Eagle Scout and as a member of the Sons of the American Legion.  The running community benefited greatly from Benjamin’s volunteerism.  He volunteered yearly at an aid station at the JFK 50 Mile race and the River’s Edge Endurance Challenge.  Benjamin also helped at many Potomac Valley Youth Athletics track meets.

Ethan Harman – Walkersville HS

Ethan Harman began his running career as a sophomore at Walkersville High School.  He joined the cross country team as a way to meet people and challenge himself.  As a result, he learned a lot about himself.  Ethan quickly realized running can be painful and grueling.  As he continued to push himself, he also learned that by setting goals and working hard he could achieve goals he never imagined.  When the pandemic happened in the spring of his sophomore year, Ethan used running to create a sense of normalcy and consistency in his life.

Ethan is an active volunteer in the community.  He helped at a local soup kitchen, organized bags of Christmas presents for children who are less fortunate, and helped make a wheelchair ramp for a veteran who couldn’t afford one. Ethan wrote, “I learned that people suffer in different ways and there are times in everyone’s lives when they need help and someone to lean on.”

Jack Sears – Linganore HS

Jack discovered his love of running in eighth grade when he joined a team called the Green Flash.  The following year he gave up soccer to join the Linganore High School cross country team. He was a captain in 2020 and 2021. Jack was also a member of track and field at Linganore High School.  He served as captain in 2020 through 2022.  Jack was named the Frederick News Post Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2021.  In the fall of Jack’s junior year he faced a setback with a stress fracture in his left foot.  He was not able to run for three months.  By completing his physical therapy exercises and riding his stationary bike, Jack was able to compete again.  He states, “Overcoming these challenges taught me that whenever I am faced with adversity, I have the ability to prevail over them through dedication and determination.”

Jack gave back to his community by helping neighbors with shoveling, mowing, mulching and any other tasks they were unable to complete.  He was also an Eagle Scout.  His final project involved planning, raising money for, and overseeing the planting of white pine trees in a section of the Appalachian Trail at Washington Monument State Park.

Alexander Sohm – Frederick HS

Alex began his running career in 3rd grade as a Lincoln Panther.  After third grade he pursued other clubs Lincoln ES had to offer, but returned to running his freshman year at Frederick High School by joining the cross country team.  Alex ran cross country all four years of high school.  When Alex first started running, he ran 15-16 minute miles. Through hard work and determination, Alex set a PR of 19 minutes for a 5k. Coach Norton of Frederick High School stated, “Alex’s greatest attribute to our program was the value he brought as an unbelievable teammate and leader. Alex is the athlete we could provide any task, and as a coach, know it will be accomplished correctly. At nearly every meet, when it was not his turn to race, you would find Alex leading a large group of teammates around the course cheering. Alex is the kind of kid every coach hopes shows up on the first day of preseason.”

Giving back to his community, beyond supporting team members, was a priority to Alex.  He was active in the Boy Scouts as well as school events.  Alex stated, “volunteering has made me realize how important it is to help others. Humanity has been most successful when we work together and not against each other. Especially today when we are divided in several aspects of our lives whether it be by nation, or political party, race, etc we tend to see those not like us as “bad”. But when we help one another things go better for humanity as a whole.”

Warren Swank – Urbana HS

Warren was a member of the Unified Track and Field team at Urbana High School.  He competed in the 100 yard dash and long jump. Warren later became one of the managers of the Urbana football team and assisted with the boy’s lacrosse team.  He attributes the confidence he gained from participating in unified sports to his successes in school and as a manager.  This confidence also helped him to make friends, to work hard, and to set goals for the future. Warren plans to use the scholarship towards the Triangle Tech School of Welding where he will pursue an associate’s degree. He is proud because he did not think he would ever want to go to college after high school.

As a dedicated member of the youth group at Neelsville Presbyterian church, Warren served food at the Rockville women’s shelter and participated with Habitat for Humanity. He traveled to Pittsburgh and West Virginia to help paint and fix up shelters for people in need. Warren stated that volunteering made him a caring and compassionate individual.  

Rachael Frank – Walkersville HS

Rachael attributes her success as a track and field athlete at Walkersville HIgh School to her  perseverance and persistence as a young and impressionable middle school girl.  She began running with the GVAA club track and field team when she was in eighth grade, later going back to volunteer, with the goal of inspiring other young women to be proud of their abilities. Rachael was the only female pole vaulter at Walkersville High School.  She had no pole vault coach, so she learned to work hard to improve on her own.  

Rachael supported her community in many ways.  Together with her family, they created approximately 500 headbands, masks, and protective gear for the men and women who cared for the Covid-19 patients. Rachael was an active member of 4H since 8 years of age, where she helped to raise money for a disabled community member who needed a new van with a ramp.  As a member of the Fearless Females club at Walkersville High school, she helped to make blankets for the Frederick Rescue Mission, created care boxes for men and women serving overseas, and helped with a feminine hygiene drive to support women in a shelter in Frederick. 


Mario Martinez and Amir Kingoo

Meet Mario Martinez and Amir Kingoo from Frederick High School, the 2021 top FSRC Memorial Scholarship Recipients.

Amir Kingoo moved to Frederick during his sophomore year of high school.  He ran cross country all three years. Running was a source of mental and physical strength for Amir. He wrote, “Running served to teach me that throughout life there are things we cannot control. Life is meant to be challenging, and as humans we will always have the ability to rise above any situation. This sport has taught me the beauty of persistence, and how I shall continue learning from my adversities, emerging experienced and renewed.”  Amir’s cross country coach Tim Stevenson wrote, “Amir’s personal, athletic, and academic successes have elevated his cross country team and community.  His perseverance and resilience are inspiring. Amir never complains and does the work.”  Amir served his community through his church as well as assisting the Spires youth running meets to help with warm-ups and motivate the kids for the race.

Mario Martinez started running in elementary school as a Lincoln Panther. Through his coaches, he learned about pride, integrity, and sportsmanship. After elementary school Mario joined Mark Lawrence’s youth running program. Coach Mark taught him that there is always more to learn.  Mario later volunteered for the youth program, and through his own passion he inspired them to love running.   Mario ran for the Frederick High School Cross Country and Track team. Coach Sage Norton wrote that Mario was Frederick High Schools #1 distance runner since his freshman year, both on the XC course as well as on the track.  She wrote, “He put his heart and soul into every race and whether it was a Personal Best or a Personal Worst, he owned it.”  Mario lost his father during his sophomore year, devastating his entire family.  Mario wrote, “Running became an outlet for my emotions and running without my dad was a challenge for me that I had to embrace. I wanted to work harder and push myself everyday for my dad; I wasn’t going to quit because of the hardship that I was facing.”  Coach Norton spoke of Mario’s strength of character through adversity, and all that he taught others through his perseverance, dedication, and hard work.

Larry Key, Rick O’Donnell, and John Godinet would be so honored to know these young men, who happen to be good friends, received the FSRC scholarship.  These two young men embody the character and inner strength of Larry, Rick, and John.

Rebekkah Shullenbarger

Meet Rebekkah Shullenbarger, a 2021 FSRC Memorial Scholarship Recipient.

Rebekkah began running with the Potomac Valley Youth Athletics Blue Ridge Express Running Program when she was just three years old.  She attributes her love for running to her coaches, the Zumbachs, who were also her Brunswick High School cross country and track coaches.  Their coaching, their commitment to the running community, and their strong principles helped her develop determination and self-motivation in both academics and her personal life.  When Rebekkah was not running, she spent time helping with the younger kids at the youth practices. During high school, Rebekkah spent Sunday afternoons at the youth cross country and track meets, where she organized large groups of people by giving instructions, taking times, distributing race numbers, and providing food and water.  Rebekkah wrote, “Working behind the scenes at meets gave me first-hand experience of the effort, time, commitment, struggling, and frustration that go into planning these meets and coaching the runners. Runners want to give up. It hurts, they cry. They get tired, they stop. They get to the finish and never want to run again. I have experienced all of these things, so it feels like I should know exactly what to tell the suffering runners. This meet showed me that neither myself nor anyone else cannot have the perfect words every time. Still, I love running and wish to not only share this love, but foster the same affection for this ancient sport in others, be that as an athlete, coach, a supportive relative, or volunteer.”  Rebekkah’s coaches, Lee and Anne Zumbach, spoke to Rebekkah’s perseverance by stating, “Early on she had some injury issues but she took steps to correct those and has overcome some difficult times related to that issue. That shows her dedication to accomplishing a challenge which says a lot for her as a person along with her serious team and school involvement.”


Sophie Geerneaert

Sophie Geernaert’s running career began with the FSRC Self Propel running group when she was just 7 years old. Sophie participated in Self Propel from 2nd grade to 8th grade. While Sophie enjoyed her time with the team, she later concluded racing on city streets was “growing old.” Sophie enjoyed running but wanted to try trail ultra-marathons. Sophie soon learned ultra-marathons were not just a test of physical endurance, they are a test of mental endurance. Sophie has competed in 10 ultra-marathon races to date, including Rick’s Run, Mid Maryland 50k, and Greenbrier 50k. Sophie also has extensive experience volunteering at running events, including the Headless Horseman 5k, an 8 hour shift at the C and O 100 Miler, course marshal for Frederick Half Marathon for 6 years, and the Goodloe Byron 10 Mile Run aid station and finish line. Sophie also led the 2019 Membership Survey for FSRC.

Sophie’s tennis coach Roger Reitman reports “Sophie has a winning personality. Anyone who knows her would recognize that she is personable, likable, and friendly. For several years Sophie helped me teach some of my younger students at Tuscarora Tennis Club. The children loved her and she was a very good teacher.”

John Steiner describes Sophie as having a, “positive attitude, determination and willingness to put in the work.”

Thomas Silva

“When I joined the cross country team, I did not think that an activity that brought pain could release my stress and help me become a better person.” – Thomas Silva

Thomas Silva was a member of the Frederick High School varsity cross country and track & field team for three years. He was captain of the cross country team for two years and the track team for one year. A pivotal point in Thomas’s running career happened while volunteering. Alongside his teammates, Thomas volunteered at the finish line of the JFK 50 Miler, handing out medals to race finishers. Thomas describes his experience: “I was so surprised when I saw that every finisher had a big smile on their face when they crossed the finish line. No matter their age, their experience, or their time, everyone was genuinely happy. I had never been around an ambiance where people were happy to run. This made me realize that running is a gift. In the past, I would dread running. But after my volunteering experience, I learned to appreciate every last mile. No matter the difficulty, I was grateful to have the ability to wake up every morning and run.”

Being the best student-athlete and teammate was very important to Thomas. Track coach Sage Norton wrote, “Thomas is quiet, but strong willed, always leading and making decisions without being told or asked. Thomas is a hard worker by nature, self-driven and motivated, always striving to be the best version of him.”

Coach Frank Strakonsky describes Thomas as one who always does the right thing with not much attention or recognition. One of the many ways Thomas showed his commitment to running was by helping with the West Frederick Middle School after school Cadet Running Club before his own practice time.

Thomas describes wanting to “spread the gift of running and sports to everyone around the world. I want to help people get back on their feet and run.” Thomas plans to seek a career in physical therapy to promote health and wellness.

Audrey McClatchie

“Sometimes someone else needs to beat you to the finish line so that you can become humble enough to take a step back and evaluate your priorities in life. It does not matter the number of medals we have, or the hours of service we can brag about on college applications. It is about those intimate interactions with individuals that allow us to share our unique spirit.” – Audrey McClatchie

Audrey admits she is very competitive. In elementary school she wanted to be the fastest. Her goal was to beat everyone on the mile run on the fitness test. She rivaled the boys on the pacer test. This competitiveness followed her to high school where she ran cross country for Walkersville High School her sophomore and junior years. At the conclusion of her sophomore season, Audrey received the best newcomer award after competing every race on Varsity.

A pivotal point for Audrey was her experience competing in a county-wide Distinguished Young Women’s program with 22 other girls. While Audrey did not win the title, she won the “Spirit Award.” The award recognizes a participant that embodied the positivity of a distinguished young woman. At first Audrey was disappointed, but she soon came to the conclusion that “serving the people around us is far more important than winning. It’s just like choosing to smile to cheer on your teammates even when you are tired and upset about being just a second too slow.”

Audrey volunteered extensively at the Frederick Food Bank and the Run or Walk for Shelter 5k. She was also a leader for many years at summer youth camps. Audrey is active in her church as well.

Kathryn (Katy) Sloan

“Competing in track has allowed me to physically challenge myself to do better. Through track, I learned that life is about personal improvement.” – Kathryn Sloan

Kathryn participated on the girls varsity indoor and outdoor track and field team for all four years of high school. Kathryn reports that while she wasn’t her team’s “track star,” she is proud of the “immense improvement” she made. “I am not your typical track sprinter. I am only 5’0 tall and have short legs, but I have never regretted doing track.”

Kathryn enjoyed learning new skills and meeting new people through volunteering in the community. She learned how important the impact a group of people can have when working together towards a common goal.

Kathryn was involved in a variety of community service activities, such as passing out food at local food drives, making and donating handmade hats and scarves for nursing home residents, and assisting at the annual County Unified Track meet.

Cameo Lawler, Kathryn’s school counselor, writes. “She has overcome every challenge in her life with maturity and insight, a testament to her inner strength and perseverance. Kathryn is driven, independent, and resilient.”

Luke Hartlaub

“While sidelined during my indoor track season, I learned many things about myself. I learned about the depths of my willpower and resolve, dedicating myself towards getting healthy again. I learned patience, trusting the path to recovery I was on. I learned about leadership, waking up before the sun on school days to train on the stationary bike, so that I could support my teammates at every practice and meet possible. This time was an extremely formative period for the rest of my life.” –

Luke Hartlaub

Luke Hartlaub was a member of the Urbana HS cross country, indoor, and outdoor team for three consecutive years, beginning his sophomore year. He was captain of cross country and indoor track his senior year. Luke describes his athletic career as marked by tremendous ups and downs. Luke encountered many injuries, including multiple broken fingers, shin splints, and a sprained joint in his big toe. Luke’s biggest setback was in his junior year when he was tripped during a cross country race. Luke lost both shoes in the first quarter mile but finished the race with a PR. This was not without consequences. Luke suffered a stress fracture in his ankle. The quote above is based on this injury and not being able to participate in indoor track his junior year.

Luke volunteered extensively with the Urbana Middle School Ecology Club. Luke loved being able to “positively affect the ecology in his community through maintaining the Liz Coffey Memorial Trail behind the middle school and helping to revive the American Chestnut Tree”. Luke also enjoyed being a leader and mentor for the middle school students in the club.

Coach Tim Synder wrote, “Luke is a driven, confident leader who sets a positive example of hard work and determination. In addition to his leadership, Luke is a genuine role model for his teammates, coaches, and peers. He strives to uphold a healthy team culture, which is a pillar to the teams’ success. He is also a devoted volunteer in the Urbana community.”

Owen Bubczyk

“Running has been challenging over the years, but it has formed me into a dedicated individual. I understand that success is not possible without exerting effort. Often, workouts are mentally and emotionally difficult. However, I persevere in order to improve myself.” – Owen Bubczyk

Owen began running at the age of eleven years old. He competed in cross country and track and field at the youth level throughout middle school. Owen ran in the 2015 Mission 10 Miler and participated in the Frederick Steeplechasers Summer Decathlon. When Own entered high school he ran cross country for four seasons as well as outdoor track and field for four seasons. Owen competed in indoor track and field for one season. During Owen’s junior year, he was devastated when he learned he suffered a stress fracture and could not compete in the state cross country meet. Owen persevered by remaining dedicated and patient, helping him to recover and achieve later accomplishments.

Owen’s challenges led to his career interest, physical therapy.. Owen is committed to improving the health of others. He is pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware.

Owen has extensive volunteer experiences. He was a course marshal at youth cross country meets as well as a volunteer registering participants for a local 5K race. Owen also assisted at a JFK 50 Miler aid station, providing runners with water.


Susannah 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.”