OJR's Conway goes double gold; Spring-Ford boys earn team crown

By DENNY DYROFF

 

WORCESTER TOWNSHIP – Owen J. Roberts’ state-caliber runner Liam Conway has produced a direct and continually-improving progression of finishes at the Pioneer Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships.

 

As a freshman, the Wildcats’ talented senior captured the bronze medal. Two years ago as a sophomore, Conway snagged the silver medal.

 

Last year, he crossed the finish line in first place to win a gold medal.

 

How do you continually improve if you’re trying to improve on a gold medal?

 

The answer is obvious.

 

You go “double gold” and that’s just what Conway did with his first-place finish Thursday afternoon at the 32nd Annual PAC meet at Heebner Park.

 

Owen J.’s veteran leader captured the gold medal with an impressive time of 16:07. His time was five seconds faster than anyone else in the race – and 14 seconds faster than his winning time in 2016.

 

“This year was more about the team,” said Conway. “It’s all about the team. I just wanted to finish first to get the points that would help our team win the championship – to do whatever I had to do to help the team win.”

 

Owen J. Roberts almost won the race. The Wildcats finished with 39 points and placed second behind Spring-Ford at 37.

 

“I ran the race a little differently this year,” said Conway. “Last year, I made a gap at the mile and then held the gap the rest of the way. I didn’t like running that way because I can’t gauge the people behind me.

 

“This year, I purposely hung back with the pack. I was expecting some of the other runners in the league to be up there and make a race.

 

“I held 10th place for a while and then we split. I expected people to come up on me but nobody made a move. With 600 to go, I picked it up. I felt comfortable. I knew that with all my training this season, I’d have enough left for a strong kick.”

 

Now, Conway heads into next Friday’s District One Class AAA Championships with a CV that includes a conference title and bronze-medal finished at a pair of prestigious invitational meets – the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh and the PIAA Foundation meet at Hershey.

 

“My best race this season was Paul Short,” said Conway, who will be running in the same course at next Friday’s district meet. “It was my first meet of the season against really good competition and I finished third.”

 

The runner-up in Thursday’s PAC meet was Spring-Ford’s Jake McKenna at 16:12.

“It’s usually a battle when I run against Liam – and he ends up beating me,” said McKenna, a Ram senior. “We go back-and-forth a lot during the races.

 

“I planned on taking it out hard today but I got boxed in at the beginning. So, I settled in and waited for the end. Liam started to pull away with about 600 to go.

 

“I tried to go after him. I thought I had a good amount left in the tank because the race was slow. But, I couldn’t catch him.”

 

McKenna led Spring-Ford to the team title. The Rams’ other top finishers were Shane Ainscoe (fourth), John Zawislak (eighth), Milan Sharma (10th), Zack Smith (13th), Joseph Power (18th) and Jay Clark (22nd).

 

Spring-Ford captured first place with 37 points followed by Owen J. Roberts (39), Boyertown (64), Methacton (108) and Phoenixville (116).

 

Spring-Ford coach Brian Sullivan said, “Our kids really stepped up today. This is one of those rare days – all 14 in the varsity races (boys and girls) ran really well. We have a ninth-grader – John Zaislak -- who was in the top 10.

 

“Joe Power has had knee problems but really stepped well finishing sixth for us – and this meet almost came down to the sixth runner. All our boys finished as well as expected – or better.”

Pioneer Athletic Conference Boys Cross Country Championships

 
At Heebner Park, Worcester (Thursday, Oct. 19)
Team Results
Individual Results