Kirshenbaum, Glodek capture PAC-10 crowns

WORCESTER >> Jeff Kirshenbaum enjoyed the home-field advantage.

So much so, in fact, the Methacton senior maintained his domination of boys cross country in the Pioneer Athletic Conference by winning the league’s varsity race Thursday.

Kirshenbaum covered the Heebner Park layout — Methacton’s home course for dual meets — more than a half-minute ahead of the rest of the pack. In succeeding Spring-Ford graduate Paul Power, winner of the last two races, and becoming his program’s first male winner since Curtis Watro in 2012, Kirshenbaum capped a 9-0 winning run against the rest of the league in duals.

Methacton's Jeff Kirshenbaum crosses the finish line during the Boys Varsity Race. Thursday, October 22, 2015. Adrianna Hoff—The Times Herald.
Methacton’s Jeff Kirshenbaum crosses the finish line during the Boys Varsity Race. Thursday, October 22, 2015. Adrianna Hoff—The Times Herald.

“In years past,” an exhausted but nonetheless elated Kirshenbaum said afterward, “I felt like I hadn’t reached my full potential. It was nerves, or not being aggressive enough. This time, I gave it my absolute best.”

Kirshenbaum’s best was a 15:55 that was a full minute faster than the 16:55 he ran in the 2014 race, where he finished fifth. The win also topped his runner-up finish to Power in 2013.

Running a distant second and third were Owen J. Roberts’ Liam Conway and Phoenixville’s Dylan Smiley, who came across the line in respective times of 16:32 and 16:33. Zachary Smith, finishing fourth in 16:38, headed a tight pack that boosted Spring-Ford to the team championship, the Rams’ point total of 38 more than 30 ahead of the runner-up Wildcats, and third-place Perkiomen Valley and Phoenixville.

“We always like to pack it up,” senior John Conner, who joined Smith and Jacob McKenna in SF’s 4-5-6 finish, said. “We have three solid runners — actually our Top Five — who flip-flop around. We don’t have (Paul) Power any more, so we took the philosophy to run as a team.”

The girls’ competition showed similarities between the individuals’ and teams’ Top Three. Perkiomen Valley junior Annie Glodek claimed the top spot a second straight year, beating out OJR’s Ally Brunton and Spring-Ford’s Isabella Marchini; on the team side, the Vikes edged Owen J 38-39 — ending the Wildcats’ three-year string of success — while the Rams finished a more-distant third with 65 points.

“I felt comfortable coming in the final stretch,” Glodek said of her 18:53 clocking, an improvement of more than 30 seconds off the winning 19:25 she ran last year, “but I still sprinted it.”

“It was super tight,” PV head coach Ryan Sullivan said of the girls’ team finish. “When I looked the first time, I thought they (Owen J.) had won.”

While Owen J. placed runners in three of the first six spots — good for a 12-14 point advantage over PV, which placed runners fifth and eighth after Glodek — the Vikings made up the difference in the second 10, its 10th and 14th placers three points better than the 12th and 15th Roberts got. Adding to the closeness of the final outcome was Owen J’s Alex Glasier and Perk Valley’s Teaghan Steinbecker both clocked at 19:49 in the fourth- and fifth-place battle.

Boys Varsity Race gets started at the PAC-10 Cross Country Meet. Thursday, October 22, 2015. Adrianna Hoff—The Times Herald.
Boys Varsity Race gets started at the PAC-10 Cross Country Meet. Thursday, October 22, 2015. Adrianna Hoff—The Times Herald.

“The girls went all out,” Sullivan noted. “Both teams were diving for the (finish) line.”

The boys’ race saw Kirshenbaum, reaching a hill on the otherwise-flat course at the 1-1/2 mile mark ahead of Conway and Conner, push the pace. He ended up alone in first place as they hit the crest, and wasn’t headed the rest of the way.

“All week, I had trouble sleeping,” Kirshenbaum recalled. “I knew coming in how the others in the field were. I knew I had to run like it was any other race.”

Conway, who placed third in the 2014 PAC race, ended up second with a 16:32 time that shaved eight seconds off last year’s clocking. Smiley was a close third at 16:33, with Smith (16:38), McKenna (16:44) and Conner (16:46) following.

“My plan was to stick with Jeff,” Conway said, “but with little less than two miles in, he broke off. I didn’t think I’d have the energy to stick with him when Jeff took off.”

Behind Spring-Ford’s pack, the Phantoms’ Sean McGinnis placed seventh in 16:51, Boyertown’s Bryton Henry eighth in 16:53, PV’s Jeff Montgomery ninth in 17;00 and Pottsgrove’s Michael Neeson 10th in 17:06. Pat Power and Shane Ainscoe, both timed at 17:11, went a respective 11th and 12th to help secure Spring-Ford’s team title.

The top finishers for the other PAC-10 teams were Michael Neeson for Pottsgrove (10th overall), Antonio Decena for Pope John Paul II (23rd), Landon Detweiler for Upper Perk (27th) and Justin Beasley-Turner for Pottstown (30th).
Owen J’s 70 team points put it well ahead of the 90 scored by both PV and Phoenixville. That offered Conway a bit of consolation on the heels of his second-place run.

“Our main goal is to have the team qualify for states,” he said. “We feel such a strong bond. All my friends are on the team.”
Behind Glodek in the girls’ race, Brunton was second in 19:18 and Marchini third in 19:27. Completing the Top 10 behind Roberts’ Glasier and the Vikes’ Steinbecker were OJR’s Emma Torak (sixth, 19;56), Spring-Ford’s Sydney Galster (seventh, 19:58), PV’s Jocelyn Rotay (eighth, 20;01), the Rams’ Emily Smith (ninth, 20;02) and the Vikings’ Hanna Stolpa (10th, 20:04.

Top finishers for the other girls’ teams were Julia Costello for PJP (11th overall), Natalie Serwatka for Phoenixville (13th), Dyani Hairston for Pottsgrove (16th), Ryan DeOrio for Methacton (17th), LeeAnn Markwalter for Upper Perk (25th), Maddy Hunsberger for Boyertown (29th) and Yuliza Cruz for Pottstown (52nd).

NOTES >> The top 20 finishers in the boys’ and girls’ varsity races were presented medals. … The next stop for the PAC-10’s top runners and teams will be Lehigh University, site of the District 1 Championship Meet Friday, Oct. 30.

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