Born To Run

Ava Crist Decides Marist College Is ‘Best Place For Me’

Maple Grove senior Ava Crist will be continuing her running and academic career at Marist College this fall. Submitted photo (above) P-J file photo (below)

For years, Ava Crist’s athletic interest was soccer, but then a funny thing happened upon reaching eighth grade at Maple Grove Junior Senior High School — she discovered she liked cross country, and track and field even more.

With upper classmen Hope Pietrocarlo, Gracie Auer, Bryn Mozzi and Kristin Kelemen serving as her role models in those days, Crist knew she “wanted to be part of a team with them.”

Fast-forward four years.

“It’s crazy. I never actually thought of a future in the sport,” said Crist, a Red Dragon senior, “but now it’s my entire future. It’s a BIG thing.”

How big?

Well, the Bemus Point resident has announced that she plans to continue her academic and running career at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, a school that is a member of the Division I Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

“I was all over the place where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do,” Crist said earlier this week. “It came back to wanting to be closer to home (but) not really.”

Crist, the daughter of Tom and Beth, said she first became aware of Marist in her travels to the state federation cross country championships.

“We would drive past it and that’s how my dad introduced it to me,” she said. “I did more research and had a conversation with the coach.”

A Zoom call with members of the team made Crist’s decision even easier.

“I just fell in love with the whole team aspect, and the coach was amazing,” she said. “The process was so different with COVID and everything, but after a long, tiring and frustrating year, I knew Marist was the best place for me.”

Crist will bring with her quite a running resume, one forged by success throughout her Maple Grove career. Following are some of the highlights:

¯ Member of Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association cross country league and county championship team all five years.

¯ Member of four-time Section VI Class D championship team and state qualifier where the Red Dragons placed in the top three each year.

¯ An All-Western New York Scholar-Athlete winner as a senior.

¯ A two-time CCAA Runner of the Year (2018, 2019).

¯ A three-time All-WNY first-team selection (2017, 2018, 2019)

¯ A first-team all-state selection (2019).

¯ Placed in the top three at the Section VI championships five times.

¯ Qualified for the Section VI Track & Field Championships five times.

¯ Finished first in the 1,500 meters at the 2019 sectional championships and qualified for the state meet with a personal-best 4:45.50.

“I came into a strong team … in seventh grade with Coach (Doc) Rappole and (later) with Coach (Steve) Matteson. From then on, our team thrived under both coaches,” Crist said. “We just grew closer as a team. We were competitive, but we also loved being together and that’s what made it fun.”

On an interesting note, Crist’s Maple Grove teammate, Christina Peppy, will be running for rival Siena College, beginning this fall.

“We’ll be running against each other in the MAAC,” Crist said, “and our teams normally are big competitors the entire season.”


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