Power’s 11th place finish highlights PIAA Cross Country Championships

Hershey — Paul Power closed out his high school cross country career with an impressive 11th place finish at the PIAA Class AAA Cross Country Championships, Saturday, at the Hershey Parkview Cross Country Course.

The Spring-Ford senior finished in 16:07, placing in the top tier of the 239 best AAA runners in the state.

However, since Power has such high expectation for himself, he couldn’t even enjoy or celebrate it.

“I didn’t get top 10,’ Power said still gasping for air and barely able to talk 20 minutes after the race. “I just didn’t run well.’

He missed a top 10 finish by an inch, with Henry Sappey of Downingtown West snatching it away on the last step across the finish line, finishing with the same 16:07 time as Power.

While Power finished 11th individually, the Pottsgrove boys, after claiming Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1-AA titles, simply seemed to had run out of fuel, finishing sixth. The Falcons finished as runner-up last year and Class AA state champions two years ago.

Meanwhile, the largest group of area AAA girls qualifying for states, was led by a freshman as its highest finisher.

Slim and petite, Owen J. Roberts freshman Alexis Glasier crossed 31st with a 19:22 in the field of 225.

And Glasier wasn’t even breathing hard when she crossed.

“It was really amazing,’ Glasier said, all smiles. “It was a life experience.’

The secret to her impressive debut?

“I like the hills, that’s where I passed everyone at,’ Glasier said. “I feel like a lot of people can’t handle them and that’s where I like to pass everyone at.’

And she seems to have the Parkview course down pat already. The hills at Parkview are what make or break the runners, including some of the best ones.

“We’re really, really excited for her, she ran a really great race,’ said veteran OJR coach Dave Michael. “She just made tremendous moves on the hills and caught like 60, 65 girls from the beginning of the race. It’s just the beginning of what I know will be an outstanding high school career for her.’

And it’s not that Power can’t handle those hills here. He won the PIAA Foundation Invitational Gold race with a meet record 15:50 six weeks ago, all while beating some of the runners that passed him Saturday. No wonder he felt a bit down and out.

“I am disappointed,’ he said. “I feel like crap right now. I just wish I could have run better. But, I put it all on myself.’

And again, leading the local runners with the fastest time didn’t make up for anything.

“He moved way up from last year, he’s 11th in the state and he should be happy,’ said veteran Rams coach Brian Sullivan. “But Paul is a very intense competitor. And the first thing those types of competitors do when they get done is look at what they could have done better. That’s what Paul is going through right now.

“He likes to compete, goes into every race wanting to win, and today was no exception. I’m sure in a few hours or tomorrow he’ll be happy with how he did.’

The Falcons’ Derek Lopez also wished he could run it all over again. After medaling last year at 22nd, and playing the leading role in the Falcons runner-up finish, he crossed 51st this year with a 17:16.

“Today we just didn’t run well at all,’ Lopez said. “We felt like we had a good PAC-10 race and a good district race, and we tried to extend that into here. Sometimes you just have bad races and you can’t change what happened. It definitely hurts coming in here with the high expectations of winning the state title.

“We all worked hard for each other and that’s what, ultimately, it’s all about. Michael Neesan (the second Falcons runner across at 80th, 17:38), Austin Eaton (third Falcon at 86th, 17:40) and Joey Drager (fourth at 94th, 17:44) all ran strong. But we just didn’t have it today. Me, I can’t explain it. I just didn’t have a good race today.’

Falcons veteran coach Larry Rechtin sure knows all about the ups and downs of this sport.

“I’m proud of these guys,’ Rechtin said. “It’s not the results that we wanted, but, hey, it’s still sixth in the state. That’s pretty darn impressive.

“We had to really gear up for the district meet this year and to crank it all up again and do it all over again (at states). It’s tough, but I’m proud of them all. (Proud) of Derek for what he has done this year, and of Austin Eaton. Those are our two seniors and they have been great for us.’

Owen J. Roberts freshman Liam Conway made his state debut, crossing 87th with a 17:05.

“I really like the course,’ Conway said. “I was expecting to really be used to the hills and all because of our home course (at Warwick Park), but they were tougher. It was fun, though.’

The Wildcats’ Ab van Helmond, who had also qualified, was there but could not run because of severe strep throat.

Boyertown senior Dylan Eddinger, who only took up the sport last year, also made it here and crossed at 127th with a 17:20.

“That was tough, I’m exhausted,’ Eddinger said, coming off the course smiling. “But I’m very happy I made it here this year. It felt good.’

In Class AA, Upper Perkiomen senior Jake Keiper finished 62nd with a time of 17:26 while Pope John Paul II’s John O’Conner finished 136th at 18:07.

Perkiomen Valley sophomore Annie Glodeck, the recently crowned PAC-10 champion, was the area girls’ second highest finisher at 40th with a with a time of 19:32.

“It felt pretty bad out there, but it was fun,’ Glodek said. “I kind of expected it would be really hard and it was.’

Daniel Boone’s Abby Snyder, the Blazers lone state qualifier, finished 65th with a 19:52.

Boyertown senior Emily Schumaker, in her third qualifying trip here, fittingly finished with her highest placing ever at 68th, way up from her previous best at 81st last year.

“I’m just so excited, so happy,’ Schumaker said. “I couldn’t be more proud.

“It’s definitely been a learning experience going to states for three years. The improvement, the strategy, all of that. And this year was so much more intense. I don’t know if it’s because your up there with the top 60 or 70 like I was this year. Elbows everywhere, pushing each other around just to get that spot. Girls are more committed up there in the top 60.’

And all the local girls finished in the top 100 in AAA in a field of 225 runners. No area AA girls qualified.

Perk Valley sophomore Michele Daniels crossed 72nd at 19:58.

“I worked really, really hard for this,’ Daniels said. “I knew it was going to be hard, but it was much worse than I thought. The course is so tough with those hills.’

And, yes, their Perk Valley veteran coach Ryan Sullivan still tells them that former Vikings standout Jimmy Tarsnane handled those hills just fine when he won the boys PiAA-AAA title here in 2008, Daniels mentioned with a smile.

Spring-Ford freshman Gabby Bamford finished 73rd with a 19:58, with Rams sophomore Isabella Marchini 99th at 20:13.


York Suburban won the boys AA team title … Dominic Hockenbury, of Lake Lehman won the AA race … North Allegheny won the boys AAA team title … Jake Brophy, of Central Bucks East, was the AAA winner … Villa Maria won the girls AA team title ….Pennsbury, a frequent winner, won the girls AAA team title … Brianna Schwartz, of Shaler Area, was the girls AAA winner.

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