Fall sports sea­son hits the post­sea­son.

Boy­er­town’s McComb, Der­afelo fin­ish Top 50

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeff Stover js­tover@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­curyXS­tover on Twit­ter

HER­SHEY » It was the per­fect near-end to a per­fect sea­son for Rusty Ku­jdych.

Not THE ul­ti­mate end to the Ne­shaminy se­nior’s cross-coun­try ac­tiv­i­ties ... but the end to his com­pe­ti­tion in Penn­syl­va­nia In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion events. Ku­jdych high­lighted the show­ing by District 1’s var­i­ous par­tic­i­pants in the PIAA State Cham­pi­onships Satur­day by win­ning the boys Class AAA race.

“It’s not the end,” he af­firmed. “I’ll be go­ing for Na­tion­als.”

The state meet still served as a key tuneup for the next level Ku­jdych will be pur­su­ing. He cov­ered the Parkview Course, ad­ja­cent to the Gi­ant Cen­ter, in 15:47 one week af­ter head­ing the district’s meet at Le­high Univer­sity. Ku­jdych fin­ished 10 sec­onds ahead of Butler’s Noah Bev­eridge, who was run­ning even with him up to the two-mile mark.

“I just did my own thing,” Ku­jdych said. “Last year I medaled, and the year be­fore that. So I did bet­ter ev­ery year.”

He headed a District 1 pack that had five run­ners place in the Top 10. Bishop Shana­han’s Josh Hoey was sev­enth, fol­lowed by Owen J. Roberts’ Liam Con­way, West Ch­ester Henderson’s Steve Smucker and Coun­cil Rock North’s Ryan Camp­bell go­ing 7-89-10.

“This is one of the hard­est cour­ses I’ve ever been on,” Ku­jdych re­called. “You re­ally have to bring your ‘A’ game. There are so many peo­ple out there who want the ti­tle.”

The down­hill sec­tions of the Parkview Course, a mat­ter of con­cern for many run­ners, haven’t fazed Ku­jdych in the races he’s run there.

“Run­ning down­hill is as im­por­tant as run­ning up­hill,” he said. “You have to be care­ful.”

For Con­way, his Top 10 fin­ish in this year’s state event pro­vided a bit of un­fin­ished busi­ness. Af­ter an in­jury left him out of a fin­ish within the Top 100 his ju­nior year, Con­way clocked a 16:03 in a post­sea­son that saw him win the Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence’s boys race and fin­ish third at dis­tricts.

“I’m pretty happy with this,” he said. “I was right with the top

guys up to the 2.5-kilo­me­ter mark. There’s a big hill there, and Rusty and Noah gapped it a bit.”

Con­way’s joy was in­creased by he and his OJR team­mates plac­ing sev­enth in the team stand­ings. Class­mate An­drew Malm­strom fol­lowed in 13th place at 16:24 while Kyle Malm­strom (55th), Vin­cent Fen­nell (72nd) and David Brun­ton (88th) also fac­tored in the scor­ing.

“This was a great cap, run­ning with my team­mates, ” Con­way said. Like Ku­jdych, he will be com­pet­ing in a re­gional meet at the end of November in an at­tempt to qual­ify for Na­tion­als.

Spring-Ford went even higher in the team ranks, plac­ing fourth with Ja­cob McKenna (20th) lead­ing the way. John Zaw­is­lak came in 50th, fol­lowed by Shane Ain­scoe (57th) and Zach Smith (89th) as part of the Rams’ first-ever qual­i­fi­ca­tion for states as a team.

“We set a goal to get a Top Five,” SF head coach Brian Sul­li­van said. “Things went our way. We came to run.”

Else­where in the Top 25, Phoenixville sopho­more Car­los Shultz placed 21st and North Penn’s Bren­dan O’Toole 25th.

The Down­ing­town West boys were third as a team be­hind cham­pion LaSalle Col­lege and run­ner-up Coun­cil Rock North. Pay­ton Se­wall was its lead­ing run­ner (14th) as Tyler Rollins placed 21st.

Boy­er­town’s Chris­tian McComb fin­ished 28th over­all with a time of 16:33 while team­mate Do­minic Der­afelo was 43rd with a time of 16:45.

In the girls AAA field, Coatesville’s Brooke Hut­ton was District 1’s top run­ner. The se­nior placed ninth in a time of 19:02.

Perkiomen Val­ley’s Tea­gan Schein-Becker, run­ning in the shadow of SpringFord’s Gabriella Bam­ford at PACs and dis­tricts, came into her own with a 17th­place show­ing in 19:15.

“It was a good race,” the Vik­ing se­nior said. “A good end to the sea­son.”

The Owen J. Roberts girls team, qual­i­fy­ing for states as a unit, were eighth in the team stand­ings. The Wild­cats edged Cen­tral Bucks West by one point (207-208) one week af­ter the Bucks dis­tanced the Wild­cats and the rest of the District 1 field to emerge as team cham­pion by a wide mar­gin.

“This was fun,” Mary Ber­no­tas, OJR’s top run­ner in 31st place, said.

“We def­i­nitely aimed higher than eighth place,” Au­tumn Sands, one place back in 32nd for Roberts, added. “But we’re glad the team made it here, in gen­eral.”

Pope John Paul II came away with a 16th-place show­ing among Class AA boys. Se­nior Shane McKeon (58th) led the way while Up­per Perkiomen’s Cameron Junk, a run­ner-up at dis­tricts, went 81st.

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