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OJR’s Conway on course for Triple Crown, Pottstown’s Howard takes triple jump at PAC Championships

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UPPER PROVIDENCE >> One down, two to go.

That was Liam Conway’s score Friday at Pope John Paul II, the opening day of the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s championship meet. Heading into the final stretch of his high-school track career, Conway put himself on track to duplicate the “Triple Crown” of his junior season: Winning gold medal in three races.

The Owen J. Roberts senior started off with a classic run in the 3,200-meter race. Conway dogged Spring-Ford’s Jacob McKenna for the first seven laps; then with about 300 meters to go, he pulled ahead of McKenna and built a sizeable lead by the time he crossed the finish line.

Conway crossed the line in 9:32.60, heading McKenna by little more than two seconds (9:34.92). He now has repeat PAC titles in the 800 and 1,600 on his “to-do” list for Saturday.

Spring-Ford’s Jacob McKenna and Owen J. Roberts’ Liam Conway, left, lead the field in the boys’ 3,200 meters at the PAC Track & Field Championships Friday at Pope John Paul II. Conway won the race in 9:32.60 with McKenna following in 9:34.92. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“When you’re running a lot of events, you have to conserve energy,” he said of his race strategy. “I knew I couldn’t let Jake get too far ahead of me … he’s a great runner.”

So Conway was content to let McKenna set the race-leading pace for as long as he did. He ultimately headed a big showing by the Wildcats in the race, teammates Linus Blatz going third (9:39.37) and Andrew Malmstrom fifth (9:46.24) around Boyertown’s Justin Smyth (9:41.76) — one good for 20 team points.

“This year, this is our biggest chance to win a championship,” Conway said. “I hope we can pull it together (Saturday).

“Our distance and sprints improved so much. As a senior, it’s a great thing to see. Everyone is working hard.”

Pottstown’s Jacob Howard hits the pit with a wining jump of 43-11 3/4 in the boys’ triple jump at the PAC Track & Field Championships Friday at Pope John Paul II. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Jacob Howard once again gave himself a memorable birthday present. The Pottstown senior, who marked his special day in 2017 by winning the high jump at the PAC meet, duplicated that feat by winning the triple jump.

Howard went 43-11¾ on the fourth of his five tries, effectively heading the 43-2¼ of Pottsgrove’s Michael Ziegler. Methacton’s Chris Meehan went third (41-6½) ahead of Perkiomen Valley’s Cole Peterlin (40-6) and Perkiomen Valley’s Randy Washington (40-4¾).

“It’s all part of the second phase,” Howard, who placed third in the event as a junior, said. “That’s what held me back from reaching a personal best ato Lower Merion last weekend.”
Howard will be working the jumps this weekend, also entered in the high and long. He’s not predicting a sweep of the jumps, but …

“I like to keep an open mind about it,” he said.

Seth Esterley was the cream of the javelin field, a 168-5 toss good for both a gold medal and a personal-best. The Boyertown senior walked his way to the mark, hitting it on his fourth throw to beat Upper Perkiomen’s Chalmers Stroup (166-5).

“My best before was 165,” Esterley said. “I felt good on the throw, and I saw how far over the line it was. It was a good throw.”

Methacton’s John Keenan was third at 163-6. Spring-Ford’s Jake Pajovich finished fourth (162-5), and OJR’s Darian Storti fifth (160-6).

“I wanted 170 today,” Esterley said. “I was ranked third, so I didn’t expect to throw like I did.”

Pottsgrove’s Michael Ziegler competes in the triple jump at the PAC Championships Friday at Pope John Paul II. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

In the day’s final medal event, Methacton’s Chris Huber took the 300 intermediate hurdles over Perkiomen Valley’s Ryan Dao by one-tenth of a second. Huber clocked a 40.74 ahead of Dao’s 40.84, the lone district-qualifying mark in the field.

Owen J. Roberts’ Scott Honicker was third in 42 seconds. Methacton’s Alex Yablonski (42.04) and Pottstown’s Martin Metzger (42.92) completed the Top Five.

Honicker had the fastest time (15.42) in 110 high hurdle qualifying. In the 100 dash, Boyertown’s Jamison Moccia was top qualifier with an 11.30; and in 200 qualifying, Upper Perkiomen’s Tyrese

Reid edged PV’s Isaiah Domine for the top spot, 22.86-22.87.

NOTES
The top eight finishers in each event received medals. … Saturday’s schedule gets going at 10 a.m. with the girls 4×400 relay finals.

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