Morro, James, Galligan take home medals

HERSHEY >> For the first time in six years, Cardinal O’Hara did not finish among the top five teams in the boys Class AAA race at the PIAA cross country championships.

The Lions were sixth Saturday with 231 points, 26 behind fifth-placed Council Rock North. Disappointed? Not one bit.

“We were really happy with this result,” senior Rob Morro said. “We finished seventh at the Foundation meet, which didn’t have half the teams that were here today. Our postseason wasn’t exactly what we wanted, going up against La Salle at Catholics and District 12, taking a loss in both races, but we were really motivated today.

“We changed our outlook on this race. It wasn’t so much that we had to beat this guy or that guy, it was just go out there and run your best race and it paid off for us. Our pack-running guys really came along and got us sixth place. We’re really happy with that.”

The front-runners ran well, too. Morro and junior Ryan James both earned their second straight state medals. James was 17th in 16 minutes, 11 seconds, while Morro placed 23rd in 16:17.

James and Morro weren’t the only Delco runners on the awards stand. Springfield’s Liam Galligan took home a medal, too, 21st in 16:15.

For Morro, earning a state medal was the perfect way to close out the cross country portion of his scholastic career. His time was a personal best by six seconds in three trips to the state championships, but not his best individual finish. He was 22nd last year.

“It means so much to me to graduate with two state medals,” Morro said. “It means the world to me. I’m so blessed to be part of this team. Great training leads to great results. I would have liked to have been in the top 15, but the competition this year was better than the year before. I ended up with a PR, which is all you can ask for, and I ended up with a state medal. It’s really exciting.”

Ryan James also turned in his best time by four seconds in three trips to the state meet and five races at the Parkview course. He was 15th last year.

“Coming down the stretch I didn’t look at the time or try to figure out what place I was in,” James said. “I tried to finish and get the best time I could get.”

No one seems to know the last time a Springfield boys runner medaled at the state meet. Cougars coach Ken Keehn thinks it may have been Eric Beam in the 1970s. Former coach Dan Curran could not recall the last time it happened and records are incomplete, which makes Galligan’s finish special.

The junior turned in a solid time of 16:15, 34 seconds and 28 places better than his first trip to the state meet last year. It also was 32 seconds better than the 16:47 Galligan ran at the PIAA Foundation meet.

“Last year was like a trial run for me,” said Galligan, who was 49th as a sophomore. “It gave me an idea of how to run this course and what to expect.”

That knowledge allowed Galligan to devise a more defined strategy.

“I wanted to get out fast,” Galligan said. “I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to run between a 4:45 and 4:55 first mile, and I ran 4:53. That’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

Sean Sullivan wanted to make his final appearance in the PIAA championships a special one. Even though the senior from Bonner-Prendergast did not earn a medal in the Class AA race, he did turn in his best time and his best finish in four trips to the state meet.

Sullivan crossed the finish line in 17:00, which was good for 30th place. That topped his previous best time by 32 seconds and his best finish by 40 places. It helped the District 12 champion Friars finish 17th in the team competition.

“I ran a faster time at the Foundation meet (16:56), but there’s a lot more people here,” Sullivan said. “I feel I ran a good race because this really is a tough course, especially the middle mile. It can beat you up and if you let that happen, the last mile is impossible.”

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