WHITEMARSH TWP. >> You don’t have to search the internet to find the last time Springfield’s Liam Galligan ran in a competitive meet. All you have to do is ask him. He knows, down to the day.
“It’s been 190 days,” Galligan said. “I haven’t run since Briarwood, Sept. 17 (2016).”
That would be the Briarwood Invitational cross country meet. Galligan won the championship race that day. He beat Cardinal O’Hara’s Ryan James by nine seconds.
Galligan was on pace to make a run at being named Daily Times Runner of the Year in cross country until a stress fracture in his left hip sidelined him for the rest of the cross country season and the entire indoor track season. The 800-meter run at the Pennsylvania Track Classic Saturday at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School was Galligan’s first competition since he was sidelined six months ago.
“I’ve got my horse back,” Springfield coach Barry Foster said before Galligan’s race. “I’m interested to see how he does.”
Foster did know, though, that this would be no fun run. Galligan was not going to go out on the track and test the leg, even though it was just the second 800 in an invitational in his career. That’s not how Galligan rolls.
“It was all business,” Galligan said. “I put in the work so I knew I had to run as hard as I could. I wanted to run 1:54.”
Galligan came close to that mark. He ran a career-best 1:59.77 to finish second behind Penn Wood’s Dennis Manyeah (1:58.73), the premier 800-meter runner in the county.
“I tried to get around him one last time, but he just fought me off,” Galligan said. “He’s used to running more 800s than me.”
While Galligan did not get the time he wanted, he did get the desired result.
“I feel great,” he said.
Galligan was scheduled to run in an event last week in New York to test the hip, but that meet was cancelled. The Cougars were coming to the Track Classic so Foster signed up Galligan for the 800.
“I knew I wasn’t ready to do a mile,” Galligan said. “I want to run 4:20 my first time back in the mile so I decided to run the 800, get some speed, and gauge where I am. And once I saw that Manyeah was there I knew it would be a race.”
Manyeah and Galligan went back and forth before Manyeah took control of the race, but Galligan got what he wanted, too.
“My hip felt fine the entire time,” Galligan said. “I feel like I’m back to 100 percent.”
It was a long ordeal for the All-Delco runner. He began to experience pain after the Briarwood Invitational so he decided to see a physical therapist, who immediately sent Galligan to see a doctor. An MRI was ordered and the stress fracture was discovered.
The diagnosis caught him by surprise and the recovery time was even tougher. Galligan was shut down for 12 weeks. No running at all. He was finally cleared to run in early January, but on a limited basis. He could run for five minutes a day, three times a week. Eventually, that was upped to four a day and now he is allowed to run five times per week.
“I’ve never been out that long,” Galligan said. “One or two days, that was it, never that long. It was really difficult.”
Galligan did not begin training in earnest until three weeks ago, Foster said.
“It’s amazing what he has been able to do, but he’s worked hard to get here,” Foster said. “He’s really pushed himself. And to go under two (minutes) is incredible. He looked good.”
Galligan, who will attend Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, where his sister, Grace, goes to school, did not do it alone. He gave a lot of credit to teammates Joseph Cardi, Matt Coyle and Jacob Varughese, who he said helped him get ready for his first competition in more than six months.
Galligan’s goal wasn’t to just come back and be competitive. He has his eye on Eric Beam’s 44-year-old county record in the mile, which is 4:07.5
“It’s going to be hard,” Galligan said. “I have to shave eight seconds off my time, but this is a good sign. And my training guys, Matt (Coyle), Jacob (Varughese) and Joe (Cardi), we’re all working together. They’re pushing me to get that. I’m running 61-, 62-second quarters, so 4:07 is definitely the goal.”
Galligan can chase the record. Foster is just glad to have his horse back, one of the people who helped the Cougars win the Central League title a year ago.
“As long as he’s healthy, I’m happy,” Foster said.
Galligan’s second-place finish in the 800 highlighted a good day for the Cougars. Cardi took second in the 1,600 (4:37.53). Galligan’s younger brother, Owen, was second in the discus (133-6), DaShawn Dale was tied for fourth in the pole vault (10-0) and Christopher Walters was fifth in the javelin (136-2).