PHOENIXVILLE >> Jacob Howard gave himself quite a birthday present Thursday.
The Pottstown junior scored a gold medal in the high jump, going 6-foot-2 that exceeded his personal best by two inches. The achievement compensated for the fact he was hoping to spend his birthday at other pursuits.
“My only issue is, today’s my birthday,” he said. “But I got the biggest present I could ask for.”
Howard’s jump headed the best effort of Phoenixville’s Zion Small, who placed second at 6 foot even. He’s looking now for similar showings in the long and triple jump.
“My goal is to go to districts in all three,” he said. “I wasn’t planning at first to go to districts in the high jump … it’s not an event I specialized in.”
“Jacob is always the last one to leave practice,” head coach Mary Ann Hill added. “He’s very determined.”
Owen J. Roberts’ Liam Conway won the boys’ 3,200 run, in solid fashion, too, crossing the finish line four seconds ahead of the rest of the field. He then went immediately into cheerleader mode, loudly exhorting teammates Andrew Malmstrom and Sean Barone as they put on their finishing kicks.
“I was screaming at them,” Conway said. “That meant the most. That’s a lot of team points.”
Conway came from around a sixth-place run in the early going to overtake the runners ahead of him. He finished the race in 9:36, four seconds ahead of Spring-Ford runner-up Jacob McKenna with Malmstrom (9:44) and Barone (9:49) a respective third and fourth.
Yet Conway wasn’t overly confident in the lead he had on McKenna, peeking over his shoulder on the final stretch to get a bead on how close his Ram opponent was.
“He’s got a great kick,” Conway said of McKenna, who joined him as qualifiers for the District 1 meet. “I was fortunate to get the lead. I just wanted to conserve energy.”
The 3,200 wasn’t Annie Glodek’s principal focus during regular-season meets.
But it was in her sights Thursday, on the first day of the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s championship meet. So, too, was the gold medal she won.
“I ran it in our meets with Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford,” Glodek, who also ran the 1,600 on a regular basis, “I wanted to score points. We were trying to win dual meets.”
Glodek’s time of 11:08 didn’t rank as a best, but it was three seconds better than Owen J’s Alex Glasier and a couple ticks ahead of teammates Rachel Daniels and Teaghan Scheinbecker, who emulated the Roberts boys’ 3,200 contingent with their respective third- and fourth-place finishes.
“I ran a season best last week,” Glodek said of her 11:01 time. “It was a good solid race, for this time of season.”
And she did it even while starting toward the back of the pack, and having to move up to get the lead.
“I like it when they think I’m running slower,” she said. “I tried to relax today. The race is eight laps, so I wasn’t worried.”
The meet underwent a schedule change due to weather concerns for the coming weekend — forecasts of “soaking rain” for Saturday being made by local television news sources. Originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday, the meet’s days were changed to Thursday and Friday.
“We had some great workouts,” Conway said, “so moving it back a got us real excited.”
“Yesterday was rough,” Glodek added. “I heard around 2:30 I was going to have to race in about 24 hours. But the coaches told us we’ve faced adversity before, so just deal with it.”
Spring-Ford’s Chad Smiley won the boys pole vault (12-0) while teammate Steve Chapman headed the 110 high hurdles (15.29). Methacton’s John Keenan took first in the long jump (21-2 1/4) and the javelin 171-5.
Norristown’s Austin Montgomery had the fastest qualifying times for the 100 (11.09) and 200 (23.03).
Other champions on the girls’ side were PV’s Christina Warren in the 100 hurdles (14.69) and long jump (17-4 1/2), Roberts’ Rae Rae Taylor in the javelin (117-4), Boyertown’s Rebecca Hemingway in the high jump (5-1) and Spring-Ford’s Melissa Israel in the pole vault (11-4).
Owen J’s Teneisha Myers had the best times in preliminaries for the 100 (12.42) and 200 (25.19).
NOTES >> The meet will resume Friday with field events – triple jump, shot put, discus – and the 4×800 relay at 3:30 p.m. … Howard ended up the league’s lone district qualifier in the high jump. Perk Valley’s Joshua Magee joined Chapman as a district qualifier in the 110 hurdles with his 15.31 clocking.