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The versatile Charisma Clerk runs strong for St. Francis

LOIS ELFMAN Special to the AmNews | 11/3/2011, 4:13 p.m.
The versatile Charisma Clerk runs strong for St. Francis

Despite some unexpected wintery weather, the Northeast Conference Women's Cross-Country Championship took place last Saturday in Holmdel, N.J.

The women's team from St. Francis College in Brooklyn placed 10th. Although sophomore Charisma Clerk didn't achieve her goal of breaking 19 minutes in the 5K, she had a solid performance, showing why she was named St. Francis Female Athlete of the Week two weeks ago.

Clerk, a Staten Island native and graduate of Curtis High School, has been running cross-country since high school. Although her track coach kind of forced Clerk and her teammates to try cross-country, she came to love it.

She first joined the high school track team with a group of friends, but she realized the sport held long-term potential for her. "I realized it wasn't just a social gathering. You had to be really committed to it if you wanted to be good," said Clerk, the only one in her family to compete in a college sport. "I stuck with it. Probably around my junior year I realized that I might be able to get an athletic scholarship. I made it my objective to do that."

Clerk admits the adjustment to being a college student-athlete was challenging. "I knew what the track part would be like, so it wasn't hard," she said. "But coming home and having to do assignments, things like that, made track harder for me to do in college than in high school."

Now in her sophomore year, Clerk is finding time management a bit easier. She's even thinking of changing her major from communication arts, film and broadcasting to childhood education with a concentration in social studies.

Cross-country season finishes on Nov. 19 with the ECAC competition at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. Afterwards, Clerk will head directly into indoor track season, where she runs the 800- and 1,000-meters. In the spring she takes on the 400-meter hurdles.

Throughout the year she cross-trains to keep all her skills strong. She said she loves the challenges that each season brings. "Definitely the best scenery is in cross-country," Clerk said. "I've always loved the difference." Her ultimate goal is to run in the New York City Marathon in five years.