- Post by: mcalibrary
- January 11, 2024
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If you were a young football player at Mount Carmel, you only had to look to the storied teams of the past 100 years to find a role model. But if you were a young girl and interested in running track, finding someone to emulate was not as simple. After all, track had only been around since 1971 when coach Al Santos started the program for girls at Mount Carmel Area. In the early 80’s, Joanne Menapace ran her way into the record books and established marks as a middle distance runner that still stand today. She became the role model for all young girls who would go on to run for the Lady Tornadoes.
Joanne became only the second female athlete at Mount Carmel Area to represent the Tornadoes at the PIAA State Championship Meet for 4 consecutive years. Joanne won 7 District IV gold medals during her career, winning the AAA 800 meter championship as a freshman, the AA 800 meter and 1600 meter championships as a junior. She became the first, and only, MCA female to ever win 4 District IV golds in 1985 when she won the 800, 1600, 1600 meter relay and 3200 meter relay championships. The 3200 meter relay team, consisting of Menapace, Margot Guinan, Angela Vaughan, and Tammy Trione would go on to place 4th at the PIAA AA State Championships in a time of 9:42.8. Her 800 time of 2:20.37, 4 x 400 meter relay time of 4:12.7, and 4 x 800 meter relay time were all regional and school records.
Joanne would lead her track team to the District IV AA Team Championship in 1985, the first since 1976. Her 800 meter time of 2:20.37 and 1500 meter time of 5:20 established region records at the time. Cross-country started out as a way to get in shape for track, but after one season Joanne was hooked, and lettered for three years. Her second place finish at the District IV meet in 1984 helped the Lady Tornadoes to a silver medal at the District meet as well as 8th place at the PIAA State Championship.
Following high school graduation, Joanne attended Bucknell Univeristy, and was another in a long line of dedicated runners to perform under the guidance of late legendary coach Art Gulden. Her Bison teams were the ECC Women’s Cross Country Champions from 1985-1989. Joanne also ran on Bucknell’s Indoor and Outdoor Track teams which both placed second in the 1987 ECC Championship Meets. Individually, Menapace finished third in the ECC Indoor 1000 meter in a time of 2:49.54 and third in the ECC outdoor 1500 meter in a time of 4:49.32 in 1987 – the 4th best time in Bucknell history at the time.
The Bucknell women finally won the ECC Outdoor Track Championships as a team in 1989, with Joanne adding a second place 1500 meter finish in a time of 4:50.42.
Joanne continues to run competitively in local road races, corporate challenges,, and team relays including the Hood to Coast – the largest relay race in North America stretching 195 miles from the top of Oregon’s Mount Hood, down to the Pacific Ocean.
Menapace has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1990. She has worked in the software industry for large companies (Oracle) and small start-ups (Amplitude), and now independently provides technical consulting services. She is a volunteer and President of the Board of Directors of Discovery Dogs – a non-profit organization the trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities. She is married to Russell Bertuccelli who loves football and wishes that he too could have grown up in Mount Carmel.