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Alum, coach gives kudos to F-M cross country program

Fayetteville-Manlius alumnae Kathy Parker recalls her time as a runner in high school.

She ran for three years, from a sophomore to a senior, in the 1970s. Her cross country coach was Michael Guzman, of Guzman's Dance Studio in Fayetteville; the girls track coach was Stephen Parker.

"[Steve] always had us doing sit-ups with his reminder, 'Ladies, it's almost bathing suit time!' But he organized a tight practice and fostered camaraderie among a group of high school girls, which isn't always easy," Parker said. "Even if we weren't friends in the hallway, we were close as a team with our common goals and expectations for and of each other."

In college at Penn State, Parker won the cross country nationals in 1977 and the 3000/5000 meters in outdoor track nationals in 1978, when she set a then-world record in the 5000m. It was at Penn State, too, where Parker met her husband, Mark, also a runner who won the Johnstown, Penn. marathon in 1978. He took a job with Nike a year later and after working in several departments, he now leads the company as CEO.

The couple has resided in Portland, Ore. since 1983, but Parker said she still keeps informed of her hometown news through her parents' newspaper clippings they send in the mail.

"I was aware of F-Ms ascendance as a cross country and track power during the late 1990s and continuing through the present," she said.

Parker met F-M Cross Country Coach Bill Aris in 2005, when she was inducted into the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, which this past fall recognized the F-M girls cross country program. Aris invited her to speak to his teams while she was in town.

"All of the student-athletes I met were very polite, engaged and engaging, and clearly focused on their sport," Parker said.

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