Perkiomen Valley boys and girls sweep double dual with PJP, Boyertown

BOYERTOWN — For years and years the Boyertown and Perkiomen Valley girls cross country teams battled it out as the top two contenders in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.

There continues to be more intensity, more electricity in the air each time they line up in a dual meet, often producing personal best times on both sides.

Boyertown senior Emily Schumaker won the race Wednesday with a personal best 18:16. But Perkiomen Valley, led by second-place finisher Morgan Dickerman (18:24), won the girls race, beating Boyertown 23-38, and also Pope John Paul II, 15-50, for the PAC-10 double dual win on Boyertown’s course. The Bears beat PJP, 17-48.

Now, that intense Bears-Vikings rivalry seems to have also spilled over to the boys side, where Perk Valley’s Jeff Montgomery surprised even himself by winning the race with a 15:32, ahead of the Bears’ favored Dylan Eddinger (15:47), and leading his Vikings boys to a 24-32 victory over Boyertown, and a 16-44 win over PJP to make it a Perk Valley sweep. The Boyertown boys beat still-building PJP, 18-44.

All the front runners on both the girls and both side posted personal best times, with the Perk Valley girls now 3-1 PAC-10, Boyeertown 2-1, PJP 0-5.

The Perk Valley boys evened their league record to 2-2, with Boyertown also 2-2, PJP, 0-5.

The Perk Valley girls (3-1) won the PAC-10 title five straight times, starting in mid-2000s. Boyertown finally snapped the Vikings’ streak and won it three straight times until the Owen J. Roberts girls made it two straight PAC-10 titles with 2012 and 2013 championship wins.

But this is a new season — not quite at the midway point — and Perk Valley and Boyertown (2-1 PAC-10) sure feel they are in the hunt for the PAC-10 team title — on the girls and boys side.

Schumaker, however, is chasing both the Bears team title and the individual championships. For three years there was little chance individually, with former Methacton standout Kara Steinke untouchable through four years. Schumaker was the front-runner Wednesday, finishing well ahead of the field.

“I was not expecting that at all,’ she said. “I had a plan of going in and winning, but it was against PV so I was really looking out for them. It was definitely my best race this year, and by 19 seconds. I definitely wanted a big lead, so I was pushing myself constantly instead of having it really close.

“I wanted my team to win and, obviously, individually. I want to be undefeated for this season. This year I want to get it (the PAC-10 title). It’s kind of, ‘ It’s my senior year, why don’t I deserve it.? Today definitely gives me more motivation and more confidence. But not too much. It was too close. For me it was.’

Last year Schumaker seemed to have it nailed for second place behind Steinke at the PAC-10 Championships when she started cruising along the last 10 or so meters, without glancing behind to be sure. Spring-Ford’s Sam Christman saw her slowing down, cranked it up and beat her on the last two meters.

Or maybe it was the speech Bears coach Steve Fegely gave the whole team, boys and girls, before the race that made her think she should have done even better.

“Today our coach gave us a really inspirational speech,’ said Bears sophomore Gillian Kasitz, the second Bears’ girl across at fourth (18:39).

“Usually races are for yourself or for your team, but this race he wanted us to run for somebody,’ Kasitz said. “We all picked our own somebody.’

Schuaker picked her great grandmother who died two years ago and God.

“I picked God,’ Kasitz said. “And also in the back of my mind I was thinking my uncle, who died last year and was one of my best friends.’

Fegely later explained that his grandmother, 97, is very ill, and the outlook not at all positive. It is very much on his mind and he wanted his runners to think about somebody who inspires them to push on. Because sometimes there is a bigger picture, he tried to convey.

Nobody had to give any inspiring speeches to Dickerman. The Perk Valley senior gives them to herself every day to keep pushing. Hit by a car that banged her left leg up badly right down to the bone right before her freshman year, Dickerman picked herself up her sophomore year trying to get restarted. And now it she is really bearing down, with this her last season.

“I just don’t give myself an option to not give it my best now,’ Dickerman said. “I give it my all every time. Every workout, I just don’t give myself an excuse. Sometimes it goes great, sometimes it doesn’t. Today I just went out and tried and did my best. The last 400 meters, that last hill, was kind of difficult. I pushed through the pain and sped up for my last 500 meters or so. I can’t believe I did so well with my time.

“I compete against myself more. I should care about what the other people are doing, but I compete against myself. My last two years I’ve been struggling mentally. This year I’ve grown so much as a person in general, not just running. I’ve become more confident in myself. I told myself I’m going to stop being a dreamer and start being a doer. And in aspects of my life, not just in running.’

On the boys side, the Bears’ Eddinger was leading most of the way. But with about 600 meters to go, Montgomery suddenly cranked it up and pulled away and was well ahead by the time he crossed.

“I really didn’t think I was going to win,’ Montgomery said. “He (Eddinger) led for a big majority of the race. I guess I had a better kick and I’m starting to get in shape. That’s definitely my best win for the season, I know that for sure.’

It was a dejected Eddinger trying to get his thoughts and his emotions together over on the side of the finish line.

“I don’t know what to tell you,’ Eddinger said quietly. “I know me and my boys, we put it all out there today, everything we had. We are disappointed. Me, personally, yes I am.

‘Coach was telling us, ‘ You’ve got to think of that one person to get you through this.’ I thought of my father, who was here cheering me on. I did my best today, wanted to win for him. But it couldn’t give me the win today.’

For the PJP team, it continues to be a tough battle. Now with the school in its fifth year, they are still low on numbers, have a new coach again in Matt Kavanagh, their third one in five years.

But PJP junior John Connor has made it his mission to be the leader, has been their consistent front runner, finishing seventh (16:11), a good result in a difficult field.

“We have a good freshman group that came out, but it’s our coach’s first year, so we’re just trying to rebuild,’ Connor said. “Right now we’re running against a bunch of teams with really good seniors and, hopefully, next year we’ll be a lot better. I just want to be a kind of leader to show the young kids what they can do. It would be nice of one of them to pass me to give me some motivation.’

It’s tough when there has been so much coaching transition.

“We kind of had to show him what to do because he was more of an 800 runner in high school and college,’ Connor said. “So it’s kind of an all-around transition. But it’s coming well.’

It would be hard for PJP to break through that Boyertown-Perk Valley stronghold at this point. Those two have been battling it out for years, are deep and used to the tough wars.

“We’ve had a real nice rivalry with Boyertown over the years, back and forth, back and forth. I feels real good to come up here and get a big win,’ Perk Valley veteran coach Ryan Sullivan said. “I’m so proud of this girl right here,’ he said, putting his hand on Dickerman’s shoulder.

And the race for the PAC-10 girls title is wide open.

“Oh, absolutely,’ Sullivan said. “We lost to Owen J. by one point (in their dual two weeks ago). But we had four girls under 19 minutes today. Never in my career of coaching have we ever had four girls under 19 minutes. We’re getting more consistency from all of our runners. The girls are totally dedicated to getting focused, getting stronger. And I couldn’t be more proud of anyone on my team than Morgan Dickerman. She has worked so hard on putting it all together her senior year. And her success is absolutely related to how positive her attitude is right now.’

“Our guys lost a couple of meets. They doubled up their work effort, and this is huge step forward. I’m so proud of Jeff (Montgomery), and so happy for him. He ran a wonderful time. I could name the whole team running awesome today.’

On the Boyertown side, both the girls and boys do have some runners out with injuries. Which made this showdown with Perk Valley even tougher for the Bears. Which didn’t stop the Bears from coming in all pumped.

“There is that friendly rivalry there, dating back to when they had their long string of championships in a row and we always looked to be the school that could stop it,’ Fegely said. “And it just continued from there. It keeps it fun to know that every year you’re going to have a good Perk Valley team. It kind of keeps us motivated.

“As for Emily, she has sights way high for this season, this being her senior year. She almost holds a grudge on herself for not glancing back last year and has that sort of extra motivation. But that’s several weeks ahead. For now, she’s in the moment, but in the back of her mind it’s there.

“As for the teams, on the girls side Perk Valley just has a very deep squad. We have strong front runners, but a lot of our deeper varsity runners, some of them are new this year. Some had injuries last year, so that was kind of a last season. I think when all is said and done, well have a strong team in the end.

“But, I look at the boys side, and I think it’s going to be the closest it’s been in a long time.’


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