Spring-Ford’s Power proves again he’s the one to beat, wins All-Area Cross Country Runner of the Year




Royersford — For the second straight year, Spring-Ford distance standout Paul Power was clearly the heavy favorite and the man to beat coming into the cross country season.

He was the defending Pioneer Athletic Conference champion and had been the area’s top runner at districts and states, going undefeated in dual meets the previous year.

And Power made it two years straight in every way.

He captured his second PAC-10 title, went undefeated in dual meets, again led the area runners with a fifth-place finish at the District 1 Class AAA Championships (up five spots from last year) and again was the top finisher at the PIAA Championships, placing 11th in Class AAA.

Power also won the PIAA Foundation Invitational Gold race with a meet record 15:50 (9/20 weekend) at Hershey Park and finished fourth at the Paul Short Run Brown race with a 15:24. He set a Spring-Ford home course record with a blistering 15:03. He also qualified for the Northeast Foot Locker Race in New York.

And for the second straight year Paul Power is The Mercury All-Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

“It’s an honor to be named All-Area Runner of the Year,’ Power said. “It’s a really nice way to cap off my senior season in cross country.’

Now that he has had some time to reflect on all he achieved this season, he can finally appreciate it after being a bit disappointed when he didn’t win districts and states.

“Looking back on it, if I would have told myself in the summer that I was going to get fifth in the district, and 11th in the state, and repeat as PAC-10 champion, I would have been pretty happy with that,’ he said. “Going into the season, my goals were, (to finish) top five in the districts and top 10 in the states. I was less than a second from being top 10 in the state. I would say that I accomplished my goals.’

Not surprisingly, though, the highlight of his season was winning the PIAA Foundation Invitational Gold Race.

“When I broke the meet record and ran 15:50, I really surprised myself,’ he said. “It was just a really good race. It gave me a lot of confidence going forward, that I could run with the top guys. Not only just run with them, but beat them. That didn’t happen late in the season, but I ran with them.’

It did not go unnoticed. A lot of college coaches started contacting him after the PIAA Foundation win.

Power has verbally committed to continue running track and field at famous Villanova, with Columbia, Syracuse, and Lehigh also high on his list prior to that verbal commitment.

It seems the only time Power is content and smiling is when he wins. Even 11th best in the state wasn’t good enough for him back at the PIAA championship race. When asked why he keeps being so tough on himself, Power just smiled.

“I’ve just always been that way,’ he said. “I’m a very competitive person.’

He seems to come by it naturally. His mom, Marcy, was a standout field hockey and lacrosse player at Phoenixville High School. His dad, Paul Sr., played lacrosse at Upper Merion and then Villanova.

“Both my parents have definitely helped me a lot and given me my competitive edge,’ he said.

And there was also the pressure he put on himself to be the one leading the Rams to their first ever PAC-10 cross country team championship. The Rams went undefeated in the regular season, but then lost to Pottsgrove in the championship race.

“I wanted it for our team, for our school, and for coach (Brian) Sullivan,’ he said. “I just wanted it to happen.’

He sure did his part to make it happen for the past two years. At least this year he didn’t have to run the PAC-10 championship race on one bare foot most of the way like last season, when his right sneaker was knocked lose barely into the start and he had to carry it rather than wear it the rest of the way.

“I’ve heard that enough times to where it was just really getting old,’ he said. “Basically, last year it happened because I didn’t get a good start. So I just wanted to get a good start. And this year I made sure I got a good start, got to the front early, and stayed there.’

And crossed way, way ahead of the field.

That competitive drive started long before Power started cross country in 10th grade. He has been that way from the day he started running in fifth grade with his Holy Family CYO track team, and through all his younger years of playing soccer. A soccer-playing background, it seems, always eventually makes for great cross country runners where Power found his way by chance.

His first year in high school he was still playing fall soccer. He then joined the winter track team to get ready for the spring track season. After all, he’d been running track since fifth grade and had no intentions of giving it up. He made some new friends on the winter track team, who kept asking him why he wasn’t running cross country.

“Then I really liked the distance guys on the spring track team,’ he recalled.

In his sophomore year he switched from soccer to cross country. It was instantly obvious Power could grow into a standout.

“Paul has the rare combination of being competitive, talented and a dedicated, hard worker,’ veteran Rams cross country coach Brian Sullivan said. “Those three traits usually pan out into something good.

“For this season the goal was, take what he did last year and build on it, have a better senior year than junior year.

“The two things that stand out in my mind about this season are his winning the PAC-10 Championship, the first Spring-Ford runner to win more than one championship, and the PIAA Foundation invitational win.’

For Power, Sullivan played a vital role in making him the runner he has grown into.

“He is a really good coach,’ Power said. “You can see it in the constant progression of our team from when he came four years ago to now.

And soccer is only a side sport for him now. Even spring track has become secondary to cross country.

“Track is just track,’ he said, laughing. “But I do enjoy racing track. I’ll take a couple of weeks off after Foot Locker, then get back into indoor. I’ll try to run a couple of good times and try to run at states for indoor. This spring, the two-mile will be my main event. Hopefully I’ll get some nice times, break the school record.

“At Villanova, I’ll definitely be more of a long-distance guy. They red-shirt most of their incoming class, so I won’t officially race that first year and will have five years of running at Villanova.’

And he will keep an eye on how the Rams cross country is doing.

“I just want Spring-Ford to keep on moving forward,’ he said. “I set some records and I hope they are high enough for the younger runners to want to break them. It would be nice if my name would stay up there forever, but I really want this program to keep moving along.’

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