Parkland places four in top 10 at DeSales
Even before the Parkland boys cross country team began the season, it received difficult news with a couple of unfortunate injuries. Sam Morgan has been nursing an injury since the end of August, and teammate Jacob Ringer suffered one last week.
However, without two of its top runners from a season ago, the Trojans proved just how much depth they have. Parkland placed fourth as a team despite all of the adversity, placing two runners in the top four finishers of the 39th DeSales Centaur Invitational held on Saturday.
Junior Riley Williamson finished second in a time of 16:36.69, only behind Owen J. Roberts’ Liam Conway, who blew away the field in a time of 15:59.23. Trojan teammate Nicholas Bower, also a junior, placed fourth in 16:53.19.
“I’m pretty pleased,” Williamson said. “I don’t remember what I got last time, but I’m sure I beat it by at least 40 seconds or so.
“I know me and Nick [Bower] wanted to get in the top five. Sam [Morgan] and Jacob Ringer were two of our top five guys, and they are both out injured. We had to pull in a couple of underclassmen. So, this is a little bit of a learning experience for us to see how they do.”
A year ago, Williamson finished outside the top 10 at DeSales. He knew this year that not expending all of his energy in the first downhill mile would go a long way in achieving his goal of a top-five finish.
His plan worked to perfection, as Williamson and Bower led a pack of five Trojans finishing in the top 51.
“As a team, our whole strategy is to, once we got to the mile mark, make a move in the woods,” Williamson said. “We knew people were going to go out way too fast, and with the first mile being downhill, you didn’t have to.”
Sophomore Nathan Reimer was the next Trojan to clock a time, placing 29th in 18:05.96. Then it was sophomores Ethan Warren (36th) and Logan Iacobelli (51st) rounding out Parkland’s top five scorers.
The Parkland girls’ team also had to deal with not having one of its top seasoned runners from 2016, but for a different reason. Sydney DelVecchio has since graduated and is now running at Rider University.
The Lady Trojans did not disappoint, capturing second place as a team with two runners placing in the top 10. Junior Maddie Zaun led the way by placing seventh in a time of 20:58.08, while her teammate Ava Bendetti, just a freshman, placed ninth in 21:06.19.
“Honestly it was surprising because of how I did last year,” Zaun said, who placed 43rd in 2016 and had goals of cracking the top 25 this year. “Last year I ran 22:32, so coming in at almost a minute-and-a-half faster basically was surprising for me.
“We recently lost our top runner. We got a lot of new runners; we are basically a new team with this varsity group. We were kind of experimenting to see how it would work out. We all finished pretty close together. It worked out really well.” Zaun’s start to the race even surprised herself, as she in the front group of girls leading the downhill first mile at DeSales. Other than Marian’s Tina Capparell (19:20.93), who won the race by over a minute, Zaun remained within striking distance with the front of the pack.
She credits the Trojans’ offseason workouts for her success at DeSales’ daunting course.
“This summer we did hill workouts in Emmaus, and that really helped because it made all of the hills at DeSales easier,” Zaun said. “When the race started I was up with the top five, and I was honestly surprised at that because I really was expecting to be closer to the end of the 25. And when I realized I was up there I was surprised, but I knew that I might as well stay up there because I could hang with the top group.”
Sophomore Julianna Elsesser (16th), senior Kiley Krasley (23rd) and senior Erin Wood (29th) rounded out the top scorers for the Parkland girls.