PHS boys XC earns league championship
Riley Williamson gave everything he had. The Parkland boys cross country runner had just run a brilliant race Oct. 16 at the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Cross Country Championships at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course and was paying the price. Barely able to stand, arms draped around two others, eyes squeezed shut and wincing in pain, Williamson looked like the walking wounded.
On this afternoon of incredible competition, the Parkland boys cross country team, under the direction of coach Loretta Dodson, were the best there was. The Trojans finished in first place with 39 points, easily outdistancing second place Easton with 66 points.
But Williamson did not have enough in his tank to win his fierce personal battle against Easton’s Joseph Ozgar for boys supremacy. Ozgar won by putting on the afterburners to finish in 16:36.2, just an eyelash before Williamson at 16:37.2
Finishing six seconds behind Williamson was the other half of Parkland’s dynamic duo, Nicholas Bower, a smart and determined runner in his own right.
“I was very satisfied with how I ran today,” said Bower. “Leagues are always like a practice district. You’re always trying to figure out where everyone is. Trying to see what’s going on. It’s not about rushing it to the end. You’ve just got to be there.”
“I’m extremely happy with how the boys ran and I thought they executed very well,” said Dodson. “Of course we knew that we would have a strong one-two with Nick and Riley.”
But Parkland’s triumph on this crisp autumn afternoon was more than The Williamson and Bower Show.
“Our three-four-five (Nathan Reimer, Matthew Santacoloma and Ethan Warren) really worked together as a team and I’ve got to give credit to our number six guy, Ben Esquieres. He’s been fighting some side pains all season, but he kept his head in the race and he knew where he was at position-wise and I was really happy.”
On this afternoon, Dodson said Esquieres had the eye of the tiger.
“He was able to beat the Easton five and he was not just content with that, he went after the number four,” Dodson said. “Really happy with Ben’s performance.”
Running as a team is one thing that keeps the Trojans among the top of the league and district every season. The runners for strong bonds and they perform their best for one another during the race.
“They’re basically my everything,” Bower said of his teammates. “I can’t do anything without them.
“I think Riley Williamson is definitely a person to look for when it comes to team confidence. He is always getting us pumped up. We have a good team dynamic.”
Bower is not only a superbly conditioned athlete, he’s also a thinking one. When asked about his strategy, he disclosed a guile that keeps him among the elite runners.
“You do have to have a strong start,” he said. “But personally the strategy I had was just keep with the pack. Not necessarily trying to do anything special. You always have to keep your head in the game and realize you just have to keep moving.”
Bower finished at 16:43, while Santacoloma checked in next for the Trojans at 17:20. Reimer was right behind at 17:24 and Warren checked in at 17:32, with Esquieres coming in at 17:39.