SHIPPENSBURG >> It’s a practice that’s served Liam Conway quite well during his scholastic running career.
And it proved big for the Owen J. Roberts junior during Saturday’s session of the PIAA Track & Field Championships.
Conway placed third in the boys AAA 1,600 final at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium. He owed his latest medal-winning effort to a strong kick that enabled him to jump from fourth place in the race.
“That’s what we’ve been working on the whole season,” the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s three-event champion said. “We know to be able to win races, you have to have something left at the end. And that’s exactly what we’ve been working on.”
Conway ran a 4:13 in the final, four seconds better than his seed time of 4:17.53. He ran a close third to Carlisle’s 1-2 tandem of race winner Isaac Kole (4:12.47) and Sam Affolder (4:12.93).
“We’ve been developing my kick so I have the energy at the end of a race,” he said. “I give that all to my coach, because he’s been training me really well.”
Scoring the bronze medal was the fitting cap to Conway’s season. Adding gold medals in the 800 and 3,200 to his 1,600 prize at the PAC meet, Conway came to states off a silver-medal showing in the District 1-AAA meet last weekend.
“Getting a bronze is a pretty big deal to me right now,” he said. “As a junior, it really gives me something to look forward to for next year.
“Everyone wants to win out there but sometimes it’s not always your day. But I’m really happy with a bronze.”
It stood in marked contrast to his state-meet experience the previous year, where he ended up 10th.
“Last year, I was here for the 1,600 as well,” he recalled, “and by the final, I was beaten up. I just didn’t have anything left.
“Getting a bronze here this year gives me a better taste in my mouth. I feel like I have so much more confidence this year. There was never a point in the season where I felt like I had an awful race. I felt like my confidence was building each and every week. I’m really proud of everything that led up to this race.”
He’s also benefited from the experience of dealing with tight packs in races. A number of times this spring, Conway worked his way toward the front after starting further back.
“With all these great runners, there’s gonna be a big pack going for it, going for the first place,” he said. “So that makes it a fun race. It’s always a fun time.”
Spring-Ford’s Stephen Chapman was among the area’s other male competitors to medal in the AAA competition. The Ram junior placed eighth in the 300 intermediate hurdles with a time of 40.62.
In the AAA boys’ 110 high hurdles, Perkiomen Valley’s Joshua Magee placed sixth in 15.42.
The AAA javelin final saw Methacton’s John Keenan come in 13th with a throw of 166-2, and Boyertown’s Evan Gianetti 18th at 163-3.
Also for Methacton, Patrick Maloney was 18th in the AAA discus at 150-5.
On the girls’ side, Christina Warren complemented Friday’s gold-medal finish in the AAA triple jump by finishing fourth in the 100 hurdles. Warren clocked a 14.36 on a weekend that saw the Viking sophomore place 19th in the long jump at 16-8 1/2.
Teneisha Myers placed fifth in the 200, the Owen J. Roberts senior running a 25.28. Teammate Allison Brunton had a sixth in the 1,600 at 4:55.52, and Roberts’ Rae Rae Taylor was 27th in the javelin at 112-0.
Perkiomen Valley also got a seventh from Annie Glodek in the 3,200. Glodek ran a 10:49.33 to improve on her seed time of 10:54.06.
Methacton’s Rainah Dunham placed 14th in the long jump, going over the 17-foot mark at 17-0 1/4.
In relay action, PV’s 4×800 foursome scored a 10th-place showing in 9:23.41. It all helped the Vikings finish in a ninth-place tie in the team standings with 17 points.
Owen J. was the area’s leading boys’ team, the Wildcats tied for 37th place.