Norristown honors seniors in final home meet

WEST NORRITON – On a breezy October afternoon beginning at Norristown Area High School’s Athletic Complex, runners from Cheltenham, Springfield, and the home team Eagles competed in a cross country meet in ideal conditions.

And although the visiting Panthers were the team destined to finish runners at higher places — Cheltenham boys bested Norristown and Springfield 15-50 and 19-36, respectively, while Norristown finished over Springfield 15-50; and on the girls side the Panthers topped the Eagles 15-50 and the Spartans 23-32, with Springfield defeating the Norristown girls 15-50 — athletes from Norristown cheered each other on as one by one they crossed the finish line followed by hands on knees before celebrating with friends and family.

In Sandy McDermott’s three years as head coach at Norristown, it has been a thrill for her to see the camaraderie and work ethic her kids have shown over the course of a cross country season.

“It’s an individual sport in a lot of ways,’ McDermott said. “You have to have that will power to push yourself. It’s a sport that you really should be doing all year because if you don’t run all year you’re going to get injured if you start practicing like crazy.

“A lot of these kids, if they take it seriously, they do really well and they see their times improve and they’re really proud of themselves for that, so that’s what’s really cool to see.’

And although it hasn’t been the most successful season to be an Eagle, kids are having fun rooting and pushing each other to get better each and every week.

It showed Wednesday at the last home meet of the regular season as Norristown recognized its four seniors.

“They just get along really well,’ McDermott said. “We may not be the best team in our league, but we have a lot of fun together. We’re always trying to build this program up.’

“Before we didn’t have a lot of people participating, but we had a lot this year,’ senior Kyle Coulter-Johnson said. “A lot of people PR’d, I PR’d. I think a lot of people did great this season.’

Cheltenham’s Will Griffen crossed the finish line first with a time of 17:28 followed by Springfield’s Sean Stovall’s at 17:40, the first of just three Spartan runners.

Coming in eighth place for the Eagles was Coulter-Johnson with a time of 18:37, who was pleased with his performance in the mild weather.

“We haven’t run in this type of weather in a while, it’s been kind of cold and windy,’ he said. “Our first meet was rainy, so this was good for running.

“I felt good out there. We ran our race, we got out early, found a steady pace. I definitely wanted to get out early and get in a steady pace in the first mile and then turn it up in the second mile.

“Just chase the person in front of you is what I’ve always been taught.’

“He just has that natural talent,’ McDermott said. “He works so he’s been juggling a job and doing this.’

For the girls, Cheltenham’s Sarah Richart broke the plane in front of the rest of the pack with a time of 19:56. Just under a minute later Springfield’s Sydni Stovall finished at 20:43, tops for her team.

Norristown girls saw an underclassmen rise to the occasion as sophomore Noel Whaling was the first Eagle to fly past the finish line at 27:27, a personal record.

“I think I did really well,’ Whaling said. “The transition from the sidewalks to the grass is a little bit hard. Near the elementary school I tried running a little bit more.

“We just try and beat our scores from the last meet.’

“She’s definitely improved a lot,’ McDermott said of Whaling. “She was playing tennis as well and as soon as tennis was over she was cross country full-time.

“She ran a 27:53 last week, and (the week before) she beat her time by almost four minutes. She’s really improved and hopefully the next full years she will continue to improve.’


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