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Newcomer Shultz leads Phoenixville boys cross country past Pottsgrove

PHOENIXVILLE >> He’s still trying to familiarize himself with his new team.

But it’s a safe bet Carlos Shultz will not remain an unknown quantity around the Pioneer Athletic Conference — much less Phoenixville High School — for very long.

A month into his time with the Phantom boys squad, Shultz is emerging as literally a runner to beat. The precocious sophomore continued his current flying run Wednesday by heading Phoenixville’s 16-46 victory over Pottsgrove in a pairing of the PAC’s top Frontier Division schools.

Members of the Phoenixville and Pottsgrove boys cross country teams jockey for position at the start of Wednesday’s race. (Barry Taglieber – For Digital First Media)

Shultz, who transferred from Conestoga two weeks into the current school year, turned in the race’s lone sub-17 clocking on the Phoenixville course at the Technical College High School’s Pickering Campus. He led a flurry of eight Phantoms placing in the Top 10 to highlight the program’s Senior Day festivities.

On the girls’ side, the Falcons were keyed by Naomi Hillen’s winning run as they edged Phoenixville, 27-28.

“He’s the real deal,” Phantom boys coach Justin Winters said. “He’s incredible. I don’t know if I’ll ever coach another runner like him.”

Members of the Phoenixville and Pottsgrove girls cross country teams get off the startling line during Wednesday’s meet. (Barry Taglieber – For Digital First Media)

Shultz’ learning curve includes his home course. Even though he went off the layout at one point, he recovered sufficiently to cross the line in 16:52, almost 20 seconds ahead of second-place teammate Christian Schaaf’s 17:11.

“I got a little confused,” he said, “but I was able to figure it out.”

Shultz’ early credits this season include winning Phoenixville’s PAC meet with Pope John Paul — he ran a 17:17 in the process — and the Council Rock North Invitational. He was coming off a stellar showing in the Paul Short Invitational last weekend at Lehigh University, covering the course in 15:21 for a fifth-place finish that knocked more than 30 seconds off his personal best.

“We’d seen the results,” Pottsgrove head coach Larry Rechtin said. “He’s an exceptional talent.”

“He’s a huge talent who works hard,” Winters added. “He’s naturally talented … he’s got a lot of room to grow.”

Phoenixville’s Emma Visnov, left, and Victoria Wright run side by side during Wednesday’s meet against Pottsgrove. (Barry Taglieber – For Digital First Media)

Behind the 1-2 finish of Shultz and Schaaf, Phoenixville (4-0) got a 3-4 finish from Gabe Puleo and Aaron Hin, both of whom were clocked at 17:35. Bryce Hampton was the first Pottsgrove runner to cross the line, placing fifth in 17:44, but the Phantoms scored four of the next five slots to make the meet a runaway.

Connor Wilchusky took sixth for Phoenixville, with Zach Kleppe seventh (17:59). Following Cole Goldcamp’s eighth-place run (18:06) for the Falcons (3-1), the Phantoms got a ninth from Patrick Darcy (18;12) and 10th from Nick Gatcha (18:47).

The remainder of Pottsgrove’s Top Five were Gabe Craig (14th, 19:02), Jonah Kormann (32nd, 21:24) and Steven Lin (38th, 23:48).

“We’re small in numbers,” Rechtin said, “but we’re shaping up.”

In the girls’ race, Hillen outran the field en route to a winning time of 20:49. It was more than 20 seconds faster than Victoria Wright (21:15) and Emma Visnov (21:21), who went 2-3 for Phoenixville (2-2).

The key for the girls, according to Rechtin, was how many finishers Pottsgrove (2-2) could muster ahead of the Phantoms’ third runner. Megan Czerpak and Amie Wildermuth delivered with their respective fourth (22:19) and fifth (22:27) ahead of the Phantoms’ Julia Hihi, sixth in 23:03.

“This was one where I actually looked at the page and thought it could be close,” said Winters. “Getting three in ahead of them was the difference.”

Madison O’Neill got a seventh for Phoenixville (23:09) before Pottsgrove’s Molly Neeson (eighth, 23:21) and Calista Faust (ninth, 23:27). Kerri Mahar rounded out the Top 10 in 24:59.

NOTES >> Following the meet, the Phoenixville boys and girls teams recognized their senior runners: Jack Armstrong, Eric Beery, Coley Desjardins, Kerry Halloran, Hin, Kleppe, Jake New, Miles Noecker, Paniel Proctor, Schaaf, Shanno and Dylan Texas on the boys’ side, Jessica Dauphinais, Megan Gibbons, Mahar, Carly Michaud, Cindy Nguyen, Allison Stallone, Visnov and Wright for the girls. … The readout on Phoenixville’s new home course, replacing the former layout at University of Valley Forge: “It’s flat, fast and simple,” Winters and Rechtin said.

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