Spring-Ford captures fifth straight PAC-10 team title

PHOENIXVILLE — What started out as a fierce fight for the boys Pioneer Athletic Conference track and field team title on the opening day, Friday, turned into an easy win for Spring-Ford on Saturday, the final day of the PAC-10 championships at Phoenixville High School.

The Spring-Ford boys captured their fifth straight team title with a total 175 points, holding off Perkiomen Valley which finished in second with 131.5 points. Methacton (88) and Pottsgrove (73) rounded out the Final Four contenders.

But these championships are not just for the team title, they are also for crowning the individual PAC-10 champions in each event.

Perkiomen Valley senior Joe Adighibe hauled in the most golds individually, winning the long jump with a 22-1, the 200 meters with a 23.04, the 4×100 relay (which set a school record with a 43.44) and the 4×400 relay (8:25.38).

Ironically it was his team who had snapped the Rams’ 49-dual meet winning streak three weeks ago. But Spring-Ford regrouped and held off the Vikings Saturday.

“It was definitely a fight,’ said Rams head coach Danielle Stauffer. “We lost a dual meet to Perk Valley and I think that lit a little fire under some people who needed to be focusing better at practices. The boys definitely had a goal and we just reinforced in them that the dual meet loss was not the end of the season, that the end result would be he right here at the PAC-10 championships.’

There was also some pressure on Stauffer. After serving 16 years as the Rams assistant coach, this was her first season as head coach, taking over from longtime former head coach Ken DeAngelo.

“I feel there was a lot of pressure,’ she said. “When you win four years in a row and the head coach steps down, no one has high expectations of the incoming coach. But there has been continuity to the program and the whole coaching staff is still together. Certainly we missed Ken, but the kids knew and trusted the coaching staff they have always had and still have. So they really stepped up.’

For Adighibe it was definitely the best meet of his entire high school career. But he wasn’t taking even one second to rest on his laurels.

“I’m ready for more,’ Adighibe said, with a huge smile as he looked down on those four gold medals. “It’s my year! I now want to go to districts, want to go to states. I’m hungry for more. This day is really important in my life, but I’m past it and I’m ready for more. Winning the long jump and the 4×400 meant the most because I just started the 4×400 and have been working really hard at it. And the long jump because I’ve been doing it since my freshman year and it means so much to me.

Paul Power led Spring-Ford with three wins, taking the 3,200 in the opening day before anchoring the Rams 4×800 relay to victory (8:05.21) and winning the 1,600 (4:13.35). He also took second in the 800 to Boyertown senior Dylan Eddinger.

“The 4×800 was the most satisfying,’ Power said. “It was a great way to start the day. Running three more distance events was harder as the day went on. But I prepared last night and I was ready to go today. Winning the team title was my main goal. And I just, hopefully, set some standard for the young guys on my team.’

For Eddinger, the 800 was the one race he was determined to win after leading most of the way in the 1,600 before watching Power pass him on the last 100. That it was the most exciting race of the day didn’t make crossing second in the 1,600 easier. He made up for it in winning the 800 with a record shattering time of 1:55.78, breaking the old mark of 1:55.8 set by Perkiomen Valley’s Kevin Coll in 1988.

“It’s good to win it, with this being my favorite event,’ Eddinger said. “I wanted to get the county record, but the ultimate goal was to win the 800 after the mile ending like that. It’s plenty of satisfaction. It will be my first year competing at districts in the open 800, I ran on our 4×800 there before. Last year I didn’t make finals in the 1,600 and this year it’s all about the 800 for me.’

In the early morning drizzle and fog, sophomore Chad Smiley earned the first individual win for the Rams, capturing the pole vault with a 12-0.

“Last year I was not very good,’ Smiley said. “I don’t think I even cleared 8 feet. Lots of practice since then. I had a lot fun doing pole vault and wanted to get better. And on Wednesday and Sundays I went to work out with Talen Singer.’

That explains it. Singer, now a coach at Villanova, was a superb pole vaulter, not just at Phoenixville High School, but the entire region.

Methacton junior John Lozinak, who took second in the triple jump on Friday, won the 300 hurdles with a 40.81.

“It felt great,’ Lozinak said. “My coach said to get a strong start and that’s what I did. Near the end, I gave it all I got and dove over the finish line. But the second place in the triple jump yesterday was my biggest surprise. I jumped 44-2, a personal record by at least a foot and a half.’

Pottsgrove senior Devon Fink, the league’s most consistent 300 and 110 hurdles winner, took a hard fall on the 300 down the stretch and could not finish. That spill also slowed him down some in the 110 where he crossed second (15.63). And out of nowhere came Pottstown sophomore Bryant Perez to win the 110 hurdles with a 15:46.

“It’s just wonderful to win the PAC-10 championship because I’ve been pretty grouchy lately,’ Perez said. ‘I’ve been having a bad season, been giving up on myself. I wanted to get better and I felt I wasn’t getting better. That made it a rough year. I just wanted to make districts because last year I didn’t because I twisted my ankle in the PAC-10 finals last year. But I have a great coach and the whole staff and the whole track team have all helped me out all year.’

And now he is on his way to districts.

Methacton junior Nick Shaffer repeated as champion in the 100 with an 11.41. It was only Shaffer’s second meet this year after battling a hamstring injury all season.

“It’s been a rough season because when I started the season I got hurt,’ Shaffer said. “I’m trying to push myself back into it. I’m here today because my teammates are pushing me and helping me get back. Mike Holland from Perk Valley and all the guys in the PAC-10 push me, helped me get back here today. And I wanted to score some points for my team, so I pushed myself to get back here.’

And kudos to Holland for pushing Shaffer to come back, since Holland promptly took second in the 100 to Shaffer. But Holland did run leadoff for an early lead on that school record-setting 4×100.

“That makes up for not winning the 100,’ Holland said with a big smile. “Because team work makes the dream work, baby.’

But Shaffer pushed himself too hard in that 100 and couldn’t return to try and defend his title in the 200 because the hamstring pain returned and he has already decided he will forego districts and give that hamstring more time to heal.

And with Shaffer out, Adighibe won the 200.

Rams’ junior Colin Crosbie was the surprise 400 winner with a 50.92, holding off Pottsgrove standout Sean O’Brien (50.97).

“I am so happy, I never even thought I’d be here now,’ Crosbie said. “I didn’t even make PAC-10’s last year. I just kept inspiring myself and pushing myself. It was very close with Sean O’Brien. When I was going down the straightaway all I kept thinking was, I need to make districts, I need to win, I need to get points for my team. I love the PAC-10 atmosphere and I’m just so blessed.’

Perk Valley junior Darrell Randell was the surprise winner in the high jump with a 6-4, up from 5-10 last year.

“I was really surprised, that was a PR,’ Randell said. “I did a lot of lifting over the summer. I wanted to win this championship, but I also wanted our team to win. I was most worried about London Gregory from Pottstown. We both jumped a 6-4 and had the same amount of misses. But then I won the jump-off.’

He also ran on the school record setting Vikings 4×100.

And on this day the Rams’ Brandon Leacraft and Boyertown’s Elijah Shalaway switched places. On Friday, Shalaway took first in the discus, Leacraft second. On Saturday, Leacraft won the javelin with a 180-2, Shalaway took second (169-6). For Leacraft it meant stretching the Rams javelin winning streak into this year. Last year he took second to the Rams’ graduated Brandon Palaia, with Shalaway third.

“Of course I had to win it, make it two years straight for us to win the javelin championship title,’ Leacraft said. “It wasn’t really a payback to Elijah for yesterday, I just had to win the javelin. And I want to get to states again.’

“I felt a little off today,’ Shalaway said. “But I threw farther this year. Every day is a different day and Brandon won today. Next week it could be my good day.’

Spring-Ford junior Tim Rudderow won the shot put with a 49-8 1/2.

“I didn’t really expect it, it came out of nowhere and I’m very happy,’ Rudderow said. “I qualified for districts and it feels great. Last year was my first year here, but I didn’t even place. I’ve done a lot of lifting since then. I really didn’t think I was going to place this year at all, but all the lifting paid off.’

And the Rams took the top four spots in the shot put, with Brenden Zimmie second (47-4), Matt Goodrich third (46-11), and Zach Dorsey fourth (45-9 3/4).

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