Boy­er­town boys’ pack bests Con­way, OJR

The Boyertown Area Times - - SPORTS - By Jeff Stover js­tover@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Mer­curyXS­tover on Twit­ter

BOY­ER­TOWN » A home-course ad­van­tage?

The topic could gen­er­ate con­sid­er­able de­bate, par­tic­u­larly when the course in ques­tion is Boy­er­town High School’s new lay­out.

The ar­gu­ment went both ways Wed­nes­day, when the Bears hosted Owen J. Roberts in a Pioneer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence (Lib­erty Divi­sion) meet. The Boy­er­town boys ran a solid pack be­hind Roberts’ race win­ner, Liam Con­way, for a 20-45 vic­tory. The Wild­cat girls were even more dom­i­nant in their race, tak­ing the first nine places to run up a 15-50 re­sult.

“I wanted hills on the course. That’s why we did it,” Boy­er­town head coach Ryan Knox said of the re­turn to the Boy­er­town High cam­pus after two years of run­ning at Boy­er­town Ju­nior High-East Cen­ter. “East is flat, and you’re mak­ing 180s (turns) ev­ery tenth of a mile.”

Con­way cov­ered the 3.1-mile course — one run­ning around the cam­pus’ ath­letic fields and Bear Sta­dium — in 17:19. He split from the Boy­er­town pack at the point on the course where it veers to­ward the Cole­brooke-

dale El­e­men­tary School build­ing, and ran un­headed the rest of the way.

“My out­take on the course it, there’s a lot of turns,” the PAC’s de­fend­ing boys cham­pion said. “There’s open fields, and it’s a pretty flat course.“

Do­minic DeRafelo, Boy­er­town’s lead­ing run­ner with a sec­ond-place 17:36 out­ing, ad­mit­ted to not hav­ing a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence run­ning the new course. But he and seven Bear team­mates nav­i­gated it well enough to keep all but Con­way and one other Roberts com­peti­tor, Quentin Sher­wood, out of the Top 10.

“This is our sec­ond race on it, and one of the first times for me,” DeRafelo said. “I like it more be­cause it’s at our home school. It runs by the other sports teams, so it feels like there are more peo­ple around.”

The Owen J girls (3-0 league) en­hanced their strong run by bring­ing a tight group across the fin­ish line. Au­tumn Sands, Macken­zie Kurtz, Mikayla Ni­ness and Han­nah Kopec were all clocked at 22:52 while Emma To­rak, Charley Lustig and Han­nah Pugh went 5-6-7, sep­a­rated by one sec­ond be­hind To­rak’s 22:55 split.

“We’ve been train­ing hard all sea­son to get here,” Sands, the race win­ner, said. “As a team, we work to­gether.”

The con­sen­sus among Roberts’ top-fin­ish­ing girls was the Boy­er­town course wasn’t as tough as their own “home course” at War­wick County Park.

“I don’t think it’s that bad, compared to ours,” To­rak said.

“Our course is harder,” Ni­ness added.

Kurtz cited one chal­lenge on the course: A mud pit on the stretch run­ning into the woods at the west side of the cam­pus.

“It’s so deep, you can have one foot sink all the way down,” she said.

DeRafelo con­curred about the course’s muddy spots.

“There’s def­i­nitely a lot of mud,” he said. “There’s been times when we’re run­ning, some­body’s shoe comes off.

“But we pretty much know where the spots are. It (course) has a cross coun­try kind of feel.”

Be­hind DeRafelo, the Boy­er­town boys (3-0) got a close third from Josh Endy (17:38) and fourth from Todd Bar­ton (17:44). Chris­tian McComb rounded out the Top Five (18:03), fol­lowed by Justin Smyth (18:08), Pay­ton Stanziani (18:29), Kollin Miller (18:33) and James Sa­hakian (18:36).

Owen J. (2-1) had the next three plac­ers in Sher­wood, Vince Fen­nel (18:50) and Zach Kar­dos (18:51), but the Bears had Cy Evans (14th) and Nolan Lon­gacre (15th) fur­ther dis­place Roberts’ fifth run­ner, Andrew Malm­strom, to 16th place.

“We pretty much mix things up,” DeRafelo said. “Ev­ery race we have run­ners al­ter­nate. McComb and Endy have both won races this year.

“We have a lot tighter pack than last year.”

The Owen J. girls’ pack was tight to the point of im­pen­e­tra­ble. It added an eighth-place fin­ish by Emily Glasier and ninth by Mali Fred­er­ick (both 23:10) be­fore Boy­er­town’s lead run­ner, Amanda Mur­ray, checked in 10th in 23:29.

Zora Bergey (11th, 23:47) and Mal­lory Sch­midt (12th, 24:10) fol­lowed Mur­ray across the line for Boy­er­town, with Alyssa Mraz 14th (24:15). Jeanne Tokay (24:12) gave the ‘Cats an­other dis­placer.

“2002 was the last time we did that,” Sands said of the OJR girls’ crowded fin­ish. “We want to all fin­ish first.”

Both teams now have this week­end’s PIAA Foun­da­tion Cross Coun­try In­vi­ta­tional at Her­shey on their sched­ules.

“It’s good com­pe­ti­tion,” DeRafelo said. “It’s a good test.”

To cap the PAC’s up­com­ing bye week, the Paul Short In­vi­ta­tional will be staged at Le­high Uni­ver­sity next Satur­day (Sept. 30).

“I’m ex­cited about that for me and the guys,” Con­way said of the Short In­vi­ta­tional, where he’s run a per­sonal best of 15:39. “It’s a prime time to be run­ning fast.

“We’ve been train­ing hard, so our legs are tired,” he added. “But we’ll rest up for it.”

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