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Methacton’s Ziegler, Landsberg lead in split with Spring-Ford

CENTER POINT >> There’s no minimizing the significance of course familiarity.

Especially since Methacton’s one home course at Heebner Park is the site for the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s annual championship meet. Knowledge of the Heebner layout’s various turns and straightaways pays the Warriors dividends, be it in mid-October or during the regular season.

Methacton enjoyed the home-course advantage Wednesday, when it hosted Spring-Ford in a key Liberty Division race. The Warriors had the day’s individual winners — Bryan Landsberg for the boys, Maddy Ziegler for the girls — and the winning team on the girls’ side, the home team running to a 19-39 victory.

The Spring-Ford boys cut into Methacton’s dominance, its trademark lead pack setting the pace behind Landsberg for a 24-31 victory.

“It was a good day,” Methacton girls coach Steve Mahan said. “I wasn’t anticipating 19-39. Dave (Cain, SF head coach) runs a good program, and they come ready to run.”

Methacton’s Bryan Landsberg won Wednesday’s race against Spring-Ford.

But there was no keeping up with Ziegler, who crossed the finish line while runners were passing the Heebner footbridge further back on the course. The Warrior senior was clocked at 21:15, more than 1-1/2 minutes ahead of sophomore teammate Iris Gong (22:50) and freshman Bipasha Moktan (22:51).

“The first mile was where I separated,” Ziegler said. “It was fun … it felt good.”

“She’s put in a lot of hard work,” Mahan said of Ziegler, “She cross trains with her father.”

The boys’ finish was considerably closer. Landsberg beat out Spring-Ford’s Quinn Smith by one second (17:30), but the Rams went 2-3-4-5 in an 18-second span ahead of the Warriors’ 6-7-8-9 foursome to run their league record to 2-0.

While teammate Anthony Bamford has been SF’s leading runner in previous events — the boys are without standout John Zawislak, who is unable to compete in his junior year due to a stress fracture — it was Smith’s turn to step to the front.

Methacton’s Maddy Ziegler won the girls race Wednesday against Spring-Ford.

“I was surprised,” the freshman said of his run. “If I had another 50 meters, I would have had him. I started my kick earlier.”

“Quinn has been a nice addition,” SF head coach Dave Cain said. “I told him to go with (Bamford) and when he was ready, to go. He’s been our third runner in meets.”

Behind its 1-2-3 lead group, the Methacton girls (2-0) went 6-7-8 with Mia Sheldon (23:17), Devon Petrei (23:18) and Maya Leber (23:44). That pushed the Rams (1-1) to a 4-5 of Devon Pytel (22:59) and Nora Albertson (23:16), with Brooke Donoghue (23:50) and Julia Breisch (24:02) a respective ninth and 10th ahead of teammate Alyssa Mulhall (24:11).

Albertson, who had been running second at one stage of the race, missed a turn on the course and dropped back three spots in the final order.

“I’m excited to say we do a meet here,” Cain said. “You make a mistake in a dual meet, you don’t want to do that at championship time.”

Landsberg, for his part, has taken the lead in the Methacton boys compensating for Matt Varghese not coming out for the team. The sophomore, part of a family pairing with sophomore brother Tristan, has emerged as the Warriors’ lead runner.

“We went out faster than I would have liked,” he said. “Everyone held their spots. The Spring-Ford kid held on my shoulder.”

The Warriors went 6-7-8-9 in the Top 10. Chris D’Orazio, Jack Kapralick and Vaughn Lackman grabbing the first three spots. Andrew Carlin (18:48) was one of the runners in Spring-Ford’s lead pack, placing fourth.

“I thik it will help a lot,” Smith said of the chance to run the Heebner course ahead of PACs, “to see the course and know what you’re up against.”

NOTES >> Mahan sees the Methacton girls showing against Spring-Ford as a springboard to upcoming Liberty Division meets with Perkiomen Valley and Owen J. Roberts. “PV and Owen J. are going to be tough,” he said. “This will give us a jolt of confidence.” … Ziegler on running well ahead of the pack: “I like being alone, running like that. It would scare me to look back.”

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