Pottsgrove boys, Phoenixville girls win dual meets

CHARLESTOWN — Pottsgrove and Phoenixville split the dividends while running cross country races Wednesday afternoon.

Similarly, each school featured an individual winner, which represented a season-first for each competitor.

Pottsgrove won the boys’ race, 19-38, behind Falcons junior Ky’lif Underwood’s meet-best time of 16:59.

Phoenixville took the girls’ race, 22-33, as Phantoms senior Fiona Halloran captured top honors with a 20:43 clocking in the Pioneer Athletic Conference meet at the University of Valley Forge (formerly known as Valley Forge Christian College) course.

“I felt strong enough to do it,’ said Underwood, who finished strong in the final 500 meters of the race to edge Phoenixville junior Dylan Smiley, who came in at 17:02 for second place after leading part of the distance. “I know I have guys behind me. I paced it up a little bit in the last 500 meters of the race. We have a pack running. That is a common thing that we do.’

Also figuring in the scoring for Pottsgrove (2-1) were sophomore Michael Neeson (third, 17:07), junior Joey Drager (fourth, 17:07), junior Brendan Wurtz (fifth, 17:08) and senior Derek Lopez (sixth, 17:09). Sophomore Mike Prior chipped in with a ninth-place finish at 17:27.

Phoenixville (1-3) got a seventh from junior Mike Shaw (17:13), eighth from junior Sean McGinnis (17:18) and 10th from senior Nick Kissel (17:36).

“This was my first time crossing in first place,’ said Underwood. “It felt good. I am happy with my time. It was a very comfortable pace. We did what we were supposed to do.’

Underwood applauded Neeson and the rest of his Pottsgrove teammates.

“Michael Neeson ran fantastic,’ said Underwood. “He is running great, and he is a sophomore. Everybody was really good today.’

The Falcons graduated a number of key runners from their PIAA Class AA runner-up squad that also captured a second straight district championship. However, with some of these newcomers stepping into the mix, Pottsgrove is contending quite well in its own right.

In the girls’ race, Halloran dominated from start to finish to cruise to the individual win. Her Phoenixville teammate, senior Caylin Jenkins, crossed second at 21:40.

The other Phantoms scorers were senior Bridget Walt (fifth, 22:22), sophomore Johnnie Cunningham (sixth, 22:23) and junior Chloe Oustrich (eighth, 23:19).

Pottsgrove (0-3) was led by freshman Amia Slade (third, 22:03) and junior Ariana Neimen (fourth, 22:17).

Even though Halloran was so far ahead of everybody else in the race, she did not treat it that way.

“The thing is, I thought someone was right behind me,’ said Halloran. “Every time I turned the corner, people were cheering for the other team. I pushed myself by telling myself that someone was coming to get me.’

The Phantoms girls raised their record to 2-2 after going winless in the PAC-10 a year ago.

“I think we have a record number of girls,’ said Halloran. “Definitely, the team is growing.’

She praised coach Justin Winters, who is in his first year of coaching the girls and third year overall.

“Mr. Winters did a great job of recruiting,’ Halloran said. “We already have two wins, and that is two more than we had last year. I am super excited because this is my senior year. I am so happy to be a part of this team.’

Halloran considered it a good day to run in terms of the weather conditions.

“It was shady, and our course is not too bad,’ she said. “We were at Great Valley a couple weeks ago when it was so hot. Today, all the girls’ times reflected it. The weather was great.’


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