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Owen J. Roberts’ Liam Conway grabs gold in 1,600 at District 1 Championships

CALN >> For all his proficiency in running long-distance races, Liam Conway is not above looking for ways to enhance his techniques.

For the District 1 Championships this weekend, the Owen J. Roberts senior tried a different approach to the Class AAA 1,600-meter run. The result was yet another gold medal at Coatesville, and qualification for the PIAA championship meet next weekend at Shippensburg University.

“My strategy this race I learned from a previous race at West Chester Henderson,” Conway said. “I made my move at the 600-meter mark to go assault the pack at the front. The idea was to be more proactive than reactive.”

Conway ended up running a 4:20.18 under the day’s overcast, rainy and chilly weather to beat out Bishop Shanahan’s Noah Hoey, second in 4:21.04. It came one week after he figured in four gold-medal finishes and the Owen J. boys winning the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s team championship.

Owen J. Roberts’ Linus Blatz (5) competes in the boys’ 3,200 meters on the way to placing sixth at the District 1 Track and Field Championships Saturday at Coatesville. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“Here, you have stronger competition,” he said. “People have a tendency to make big moves early, and I wanted to be prepared for that.

“The last 400 yards especially … with the 600, that extra 200 put me in the spot.”

Along with Conway, the Owen J. boys will have Kyle Malmstrom in the state meet. Malmstrom placed fifth in the event in a time of 4:3.56, behind Ridley’s Zack Forney and Downingtown West’s Evan Kaiser.

“It’s great having a training partner like Kyle,” Conway said. “Him making states … I’m happy for him.

“My goal is to win a 1,600 state championship,” he added. “I have one more week to get to the state podium.”

PAC runners were also prominent in the 3,200. Spring-Ford’s Jake McKenna placed fourth in a race won by Neshaminy’s Russ Kudjych (9:22.27) to edge out Owen J’s Linus Blatz and get the last state-qualifying spot.

McKenna, clocking a 9:31.42 to Blatz’s 9:31.94, pointed to the issue of puddles on Coatesville’s all-weather surface. But he ran between fourth and seventh place for the first seven laps, kicking the pace up a notch on the final circuit.

“I went into the last lap seventh,” he said, “then I moved up to fifth.

“My goal for states is to go under 9:30.”

The weather conditions didn’t preclude Jamison Moccia from continuing his run as the PAC’s premier sprinter. The Boyertown sophomore, coming off a league-meet weekend marked by him winning the 100 and 200, ran third in the 100 behind Neshaminy’s Savi Hebron (10.87) and Upper Moreland’s Caleb Mead (10.90), his 10.93 a personal best.

“I’ve been working on my starts a bit,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s been fine. I’m continuing what I did during the season.”

For his first trip to states, Moccia is looking to drop his personal best even lower.

“I’m looking for a 10.7 if the weather is good,” he said.

Pottsgrove’s Justin Adams and Perkiomen Valley’s Sam Leinhauser went 2-3 in the shot put, behind Bensalem’s Yoba Moreno. Adams was second with a throw of 51-6, Leinhauser third with a 49-1 ¾.

PV’s Jason Wagner also came away from the event with a seventh-place medal.

Pottstown’s Jacob Howard placed third in a tight long jump field. Howard’s leading jump of 22-7 ¼ was mere inches shy of event winner Roman Rhoden of Lower Merion (22-10 ½) and runner-up Mark Baxter of William Tennent (22-8 ¼), but it was long enough to qualify the Trojan senior for states.

In the javelin, Boyertown’s Sean Esterley was fourth with a throw of 167-1. Upper Perkiomen’s Chalmers Stroup was sixth at 165-8.

In relay competition, Boyertown’s 4×800 team placed fourth in 8:01.82 to book a trip to Shippensburg. Spring-Ford was sixth in 8:03.97.

NOTES >> The pole vault competition for the boys AAA field will be staged Sunday at the Philadelphia Jumps Club. It was unable to be completed Saturday, a function of weather conditions and safety concerns. … Owen J. Roberts came out of Saturday’s session as the leading PAC team, in 12th place with 22 points. Boyertown stands 14th with 17 in a field headed by Coatesville (45).

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