OJR’s Conway sets course record; Perkiomen Valley girls halt Wildcats’ 3-year unbeaten run

COVENTRYVILLE >> He has two more years to participate with the Owen J. Roberts boys cross country team.

OJR's Liam Conway wins the boys race. (Kevin Hoffman - The Mercury)
OJR’s Liam Conway wins the boys race. (Kevin Hoffman – The Mercury)

But the way Liam Conway ran on his home course Tuesday, it’s a distinct possibility the Wildcat sophomore will set the bar REAL high for anyone else — present or future — who runs the Warwick County Park layout.

With Owen J. Roberts hosting Perkiomen Valley and Pottsgrove on its final home meet of the 2015 season, Conway literally made the Warwick course his own. After a year of sharing the boys record with Chris Lacava (2010), he took sole possession of the distinction by covering the layout in 16:33 … an eight-second shave off the former standard.

Conway was tested in the stretch run by Perk Valley’s Jeff Montgomery, who he led by an estimated 50 meters when the runners hit the last hill on the course. But some help from other front-running teammates helped Conway to a 10-second win over the PV senior.

“Abe (Van Helmond) was talking to me during the race,” Conway noted. “My teammates were warning me about Montgomery.”

Conway’s fleet feet were part of an overall happy day for the Wildcat program. The boys swept Perk Valley (19-36) and Pottsgrove (17-41) with help from a solid front-running pack that placed five runners among the first seven spots in the overall race order.

The girls’ race saw Annie Glodek and Jocelyn Rotay give PV a 1-2 finish en route to a sweep on its side. The Vikes (6-0) topped OJR (24-31) — ending Roberts’ three-year undefeated regular-season streak in the process — and Pottsgrove (15-50), with Owen J. (4-1) also sweeping the Falcons by a 15-50 margin.

But the split by the girls didn’t dampen the overall enthusiasm of the OJR squads, who celebrated their Senior Day race with refreshments at the races’ end.

“We competed real well,” Roberts head coach Dave Michael said. “Obviously, Perk Valley has a good girls team. But we have a good team, too.”

KEVIN HOFFMAN–THE MERCURY Perk Valley Annie Gloden wins the girls race.
Perkiomen Valley’s Annie Glodek wins the girls race Tuesday. (Kevin Hoffman – The Mercury)

While Glodek distanced herself from the girls’ field, finishing in 19:05, Rotay and OJR’s Megan Bernotas followed with matching 19:35s. Ally Brunton got fourth place for the ‘Cats, her 19:53 clocking the only other sub-20 minute finish.

“Megan Bernotas had her third-fastest time on this course,” Michael said. “Ally breaking 20 was big. We only had four girls who had done that here before today.”

The PV squad maintained its edge through the rest of the Top 10, getting a fifth from Hannah Stolpa (20:07), a seventh from Michele Daniels (20:21) and a ninth from Teaghan Schein (20:30).

OJR went 6-8-10 off the efforts of Alex Glasier (20:12), Emma Torak (20:27) and Mary Bernotas (20:31).

Pottsgrove’s highest finisher was Dyani Hairston, who came home 15th in 21;22.

Behind the Conway/Montgomery duel, the boys’ race saw Owen J. (5-0) get a 3-4 finish from VanHelmond and Sean Barone — both clocked at 17:01 — and a 6-7 from Conor Murray (17:14) and

Andrew Griffin (17:15). Pottsgrove’s Michael Neeson cut into the OJR pack with his fifth-place, 17:07 run.

“This was a huge meet for us. It gave us a lot of confidence,” Conway said. “It’s such an accomplishment to beat teams like Pottsgrove and Perk Valley.”

The rest of the boys’ Top 10 was rounded out by PV’s Frankie MacGregor (eighth, 17:18) and Jonathan Adams (10th, 17:30), with the Falcons’ Brendan Wurtz ninth in 17:28.

“We had a 42-second spread among our Top Five,” Michael noted, “and 14 seconds between our second and fifth runners.”

Conway was coming off a 16:33 run in the PIAA Foundation Meet held this past weekend in Hershey … one he termed “not a personal record for the season, but very close.” In Tuesday’s double-dual, he recalled how Montgomery made a push at him around the race’s 2½ mile mark.

Start of boys race at Warwick Park with OJR taking an early jump on Pottsgrove and Perk Valley. (Kevin Hoffman - The Mercury)
Start of boys race at Warwick Park with OJR taking an early jump on Pottsgrove and Perk Valley. (Kevin Hoffman – The Mercury)

“That pushed me to the finish,” he recalled.

Owen J.’s next action will come this weekend, in the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University. Along with the Wildcats, Vikings and Falcons, the invitational is on the schedules of other local schools like The Hill School, Methacton, Pope John Paul II, Pottstown, Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen.

“Last year, I made a big personal record of 16:10 at the race,” Conway noted. “I not only have a lot of confidence in myself, but I feel my teammates will run fast in the race.”

NOTES >> Michael’s overview of the Warwick County Park course his teams call “home”: “There are challenges in the woods, and up what the kids call Charcoal Hill. The first mile of the course is relatively flat, but the hills the rest of the way are challenging. They run them twice on the course.”

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