Sullivan bounces back to lead Bonner-Prendie to District 12 title

PHILADELPHIA >> It hadn’t been long — five days, to be exact — since an angry Sean Sullivan covered the familiar course at Philadelphia’s Belmont Plateau as part of last Saturday’s Catholic League Cross Country Championships.

But when the Bonner-Prendergast senior again raced at the historic course Thursday in a quick turnaround, he made up for a disappointing weekend by leading the Friars to a second consecutive Class AA victory in the PIAA District 12 Championships.

Sullivan dominated the field with a winning time of 17 minutes, 37 seconds en route to clinching his fourth PIAA Championships ticket.

“Sean is just the type of runner where you don’t have to worry about him bringing everything he’s got,” Friars coach Mike Hamill said. “Last week at Catholics, he was sick. He ran his fastest time he ever ran here and he was disappointed. … You could see it in his voice that he was sick.”

Hamill was referring to a lingering cold that hampered Sullivan that day, a day in which he felt his individual place took a little away from his time of 16:58, his best Belmont mark.

And that he wasn’t 100 percent was of little consequence to Bonner-Prendie’s senior leader.

“I didn’t do as well as I had hoped,” said Sullivan, whose win Thursday was his first in the cross country district meet. “I got eighth, which is annoying because I was sixth last year in the same meet. I feel like I should’ve been third.”

Sullivan didn’t have much to regret Thursday, though, as he headed a contingent of five Friars who placed within the race’s top eight to give Bonner-Prendie the first of two team-wide automatic state qualifying spots.

Junior David Whitfield (18:12) and sophomore Anthony Harper (18:15) followed Sullivan with third- and fourth-place finishes, while seniors Steve Cromity (19:06) and Jack Sullivan (19:54) crossed in sixth and eighth, respectively.

“It sounds cliché, but it’s just plain hard work,” Hamill said of his boys team’s ongoing district success, despite fielding a small group of nine. “Most of the guys weren’t superstars coming in. I don’t have any guys on my team who were under five minutes in the mile in grade school.

“We’ve always been a small team that has worked incredibly hard. I’ve never had to worry about my team cutting runs or slacking off during the summer.”

Nor will he worry about his top runner’s composure at Hershey next Saturday when Sullivan takes part in his final state meet.

“I know he’s going to bring it,” Hamill said.

In other AA boys action, Archbishop Carroll senior Matthew Fohner ran the course in 18:24 to finish fifth, while brother Daniel, a freshman, placed 10th in 20:04 as they both earned the right to compete next week in the PIAA meet at Hershey. Matthew Fohner sealed his fourth state qualification in leading the Patriots, who finished third overall.

“I really tried this year,” he said. “It’s my last meet at Belmont and I’ve been running here ever since I was in second grade, so I just tried to make it count.”

Bonner-Prendie sophomore Samantha Gliwa marked the county’s lone top-10 finish in AA girls with the third-best time of 21:10. She paced the Pandas’ group of six that finished among the field’s top 20 runners to lead Bonner-Prendie to second overall.

For her second run in the state meet, Gliwa said she’s hoping for some cold and rainy conditions, unlike Thursday’s mild setting.

“I do really good when it’s raining and cold,” she said, “but this weather’s fine, too.”

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