Fall sports season hits the postseason.
Boyertown’s McComb, Derafelo finish Top 50
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.