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Donnelly helps Haverford High make Delcos history

UPPER PROVIDENCE — The 55th running of the Delaware County Cross Country Championships was an historic event at Rose Tree Park Saturday afternoon.

In the first 54 versions of the Delco Meet, the championship team had never been the one wearing Haverford High uniforms. Seven times a Fords runner was the individual champion, but Haverford entered the 2018 meet looking for its first team title.

Second-year coach Harry Green’s squad placed all five of its scorers among the top nine finishers Saturday, scoring 23 points to defending champion Penncrest’s 69 in earning the right to take the team championship award home for the first time.

“We know that Penncrest is a great team,” Green said. “I was nervous coming in, but I thought we had a good shot to win this.”

Junior Mike Donnelly led the Haverford charge, finishing first in 16 minutes, 46 seconds, two seconds faster than runner-up Ethan Zeh of Radnor. Haverford’s Josh Fingerhut and Brendan Campbell were next across the finish line, and Penncrest’s Patrick Theveny rounded out the top five.

Evan Peetros (sixth) and Aiden Tomov (ninth) completed the scoring for Haverford.

“Josh ran extremely well, and Brendan did a good job,” Green said. “I’m just happy for the whole team.”

“We did what we thought we had to do to be able to control this race,” said Donnelly, who joined Bill Waters (1964), Ken Keehn (1968), Josh D’Angelo (1988-90), Aaron Rich (1997), and Ed Donnelly (2009) on the list of Haverford runners to claim an individual Delco title.

Mike Donnelly and Ed Donnelly are not related. Keehn, who is Springfield High’s coach, was among those taking in the happenings at Rose Tree Park Saturday.

After two miles, Donnelly picked up his pace, and he had enough to hold off Zeh’s charge up the finishing hill.

“I wasn’t really running against the clock,” he said. “I just wanted all of us to finish high enough to be able to win the championship.”

Fingerhut said familiarity with the Rose Tree course paid dividends for the Fords.

“We knew what we had to do with the hills out there,” he said. “I used my kick to get up that (finish) hill as fast as I possibly could.”

Campbell gave his coach credit for the team’s success.

“His workouts have made a big difference for us,” the senior said. “We really wanted to be the first team from our school to win the title.”

Peetros knocked more than 25 seconds off his time from the 2017 Delco Meet.

“We wanted to go out as a pack for the first mile, then see what we had to do after the second mile,” he said.

Tomov was another Ford who said his coach deserves a lot of credit.

“Our attitude comes from working with Coach Green,” he said. “We know each other’s abilities, and we kept our pack tight as we ran.”

Radnor’s Zeh has been slowed by injuries.

“I didn’t run a good time at Paul Short (Lehigh University), and that’s a fast course,” he said. “I wanted to finish in the top five here today. I tried to make sure to pass some people so I could see what I had to do coming up the (finish) hill.”

Theveney was just behind Campbell at the finish.

“I tripped getting out and had to pick myself up and get back going,” the junior said. “I knew I had to stay up with the Haverford runners.”

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