All In with Allison – Passing the Torch

Written By Allison Schubert, Sports Columnist

Point Park has an interesting tradition that it never meant to have.

Since 2014, there has steadily been a standout female runner that has made headlines repeatedly every week.

From 2014 to the 2016-17 season, we had the Katie Guarnaccia era.

From 2016 until last year, we had the Anna Shields era. That 2016-17 season I refer to as the Guarnaccia-Shields era.

Now, we are just entering into the Alyssa Campbell era, with her most recent headline being a first place finish at the Carnegie Mellon University Invitational last Saturday, posting a time of 18 minutes and 36 seconds.

Before we get more into Campbell, I want to revisit the Guarnaccia and Shields eras, when the women’s cross country team was an unstoppable force among the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Guarnaccia came to Point Park as a freshman from North Allegheny in 2014. By the time she was a sophomore, she was already setting school records.

At the Lock Haven meet in late September of 2015, Guarnaccia crushed her own school record by one minute and 14 seconds for a time of 21 minutes and 42 seconds. By this time, she had also finished in the top five of all four meets that Point Park had participated in that year.

She did not stop there, though. When the Guarnaccia-Shields era of 2016-17 hit, it was time for Guarnaccia to begin passing the baton to Shields, but she would not hand it off just yet. 

Both runners set school records in the NAIA National Championship meet. Guarnaccia finished 59th in the meet, with Shields following right behind at 60th.

Guarnaccia finished with a time of 18 minutes, 20.55 seconds. Shields finished just five-hundredths of a second after. Both women beat Guarnaccia’s record from the previous year’s national championship, which was 18 minutes, 28 seconds.

Following the 2016-17 season, Guarnaccia passed the torch to Shields when she decided to take a year off, so Shields began to shine on her own.

For those of you that do not know, Anna Shields is somewhat of a legend here. She broke practically every record possible – then re-broke her own records just because she could. 

Throughout her time at Point Park, Shields racked up ten NAIA national championships and 15 NAIA All-American honors. She also amassed 13 All-River States Conference (RSC) honors in just the 2018-19 season alone.

Needless to say, she’s impressive.

Everyone thought that the Shields era would be followed by a period of loss, but the torch was passed yet again; this time, to Alyssa Campbell.

Since taking on the role of torch-bearer, Campbell has been keeping the flame burning bright. She just needs to keep that flame alive until it’s time to pass it again.