CV's Craighead takes a break from coaching

Mike Craighead (Jeff Ruppenthal/Sunday News file)

The Lancaster-Lebanon League is losing one of its most-tenured cross country coaches. Mike Craighead has stepped down as the McCaskey boss after seven years coaching the Red Tornado, which had followed 14 years as the Conestoga Valley skipper.

Over those 21 seasons, Craighead coached runners that won a combined four individual L-L gold medals, three District Three individual crowns and one league title.

Craighead, a McCaskey alum, submitted his resignation to McCaskey athletic director Jon Mitchell on Monday.

“The decision was extremely difficult,” Craighead said in en email. “I  have developed incredible relationships with our kids and parents. However, both of my sons are involved in the cross country and track and field programs at Conestoga Valley.”

Craighead’s sons are Jordan, a CV sophomore, and Colin, a seventh-grader.

“I really want to be able to see them compete,” Craighead said. “Coaching at McCaskey has forced me to miss a majority of their meets.”

Craighead graduated from McCaskey in 1988, when he was part of the Red Tornado state championship 4x800-meter relay team. He was also the state runner-up in the 800-meter run, with his time of 1 minute, 53.27 seconds still being the program record in the event.

He coached at Conestoga Valley from 1998 through 2011, a tenure that included two-time District 3-3A champ Vince McNally (2006, 2007) and the Buckskin boys winning the league title in 2004.

Craighead joined the McCaskey coaching staff in 2013, later becoming head coach in 2015, when Tornado runner Nathan Henderson won the league and District 3-3A crowns. Henderson’s achievement, by the way, gave McCaskey the lead in the all-time grand total District Three boys cross country individual champions (nine). The Red Tornado girls also won the L-L Section One crown in 2020, the same year Stephen Schousen was the L-L boys runner-up. McCaskey sophomore Isabella Shertzer won the 2021 L-L girls championship race.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we have had 12 McCaskey runners in the past seven years continue to run at the collegiate level,” he said.

Craighead, 52, works third-shift as a sterilization technician at Lancaster General Hospital. He plans to finish as a McCaskey assistant track & field coach this spring. He’s served in that role at both CV and McCaskey, most notably coaching McNally when he won the state 1,600-meter championship in 2007 and Henderson when he won the state 3,000-meter indoor championship and state 3,200-meter outdoor championship in 2017 - both McNally (2007) and Henderson (2016) qualified for the Footlocker National Meet (includes the top 40 runners in the country).

“I thank everyone involved who has helped make this a life changing experience for me,” he said. “McCaskey cross country is in a great place right now, and will continue to get better moving forward.”

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