PERKIOMEN — Teams from the Pioneer Athletic Conference dominated the boys team standings at Saturday morning's Chris Fretz Invitational Cross Country Meet at Perkiomen Valley High School.
The host Vikings tried their best to motor past Spring-Ford in the race for the team title but they couldn't match up against the Rams' power. Actually, it was the Rams' Power that made a big difference — Paul Power.
Power, Spring-Ford's hard-running junior distance ace, crossed the finish line first with a time of 15:57 — 47 seconds faster than anyone else in the race.
His time was also well ahead of the time posted by last year's winner. At the 2012 Fretz Invitational, West Chester East's Eric Diestelow snagged the gold medal with a clocking of 16:17 while Power was sixth at 16:56.
Perkiomen Valley's Dave Garton was Power's closest competitor. The Vikings' steady senior captured the silver medal with a time of 16:44.
"Paul Power has always beaten me when we race in cross country but last year in the track season I beat him in the mile,' said Garton. "He's very good in cross country and I think he has a chance to medal at states (PIAA Class AAA Championships).'
With Power leading the way, Spring-Ford placed first in the team standings with 26 points followed by Perkiomen Valley with 59 and Owen J. Roberts with 94. Spring-Ford's other scorers were Josh Tupper (third, 16:45), Matt Heininger (fifth, 17:10), Raghav Jain (eighth, 17:20) and Chris Parr (ninth, 17:22).
Perkiomen Valley had two runners in the top five — Raymond Friend, who was fourth at 16:58, and Garton. The Vikes' other top 20 finishers were Solomon Barth (10th, 17:24), Jeff Montgomery (19th, 17:52)
"My first mile was pretty good,' said Garton, who was sixth at the DeSales Invitational a week ago. "I liked the pace. I crossed the mile at 5:00 and he (Power) was 4:55. Then, he opened a gap. At the same time, I opened a gap between me and the pack behind me.
"I had about a 50-meter gap and then I relaxed a little. The whole third mile was pretty relaxed. They came up on me a little, but I was able to kick at the end pretty easily.'
In the girls meet, Owen J. Roberts put on an impressive show with four runners in the top five — Jill Weston (first), Sara Taylor (second), Megan Bernotas (third) and Andrea Shade (fifth).
Owen J.'s girls won the team title with 32 points followed by Perkiomen Valley with 49 and Upper Darby with 60.
Perk Valley's five scorers were bracketed by a pair of Morgans — Morgan Faust, who was sixth at 20:00, and Morgan Dickerman, who was 14th at 20:49. Sandwiched in between were Mallory Snyder (eighth, 20:18), Ellen Havard (10th, 20:35) and Annie Glodek (13th, 20:47).
"I went through the mile at 5:49 which is what I usually go out in,' said Faust, a junior. "It felt really good. I tried to pick it up in the second mile. Then, coming down Big Bertha Hill with a half-mile to go — that's when Owen J.'s four girls opened it up.
"I tried to stay at their pace but that last half mile was a little struggle. The best part of my race was the beginning. My sprint-out was good. I felt strong.'
Snyder, a senior, said, "I went out stronger than I thought I was going to — but that's OK. I was at 5:49 at the mile. I felt it a little in the second mile, but I really liked the second mile. Then, I fell back a little in the third mile.'
The only other area finisher in the top 10 was Spring-Ford's Sammy Christman who finished seventh with a clocking of 20:05.
Team scoring: Owen J. Roberts 32, Perkipomen Valley 49, Upper Darby 60.
Weston (Owen J. Roberts) 19:36, Taylor (Owen J. Roberts) 19:37, Bernotas (Owen J. Roberts) 19:41, Williams (Upper Darby) 19:46, Andrea Shade (Owen J. Roberts), 19:56, Faust (Perkiomen Valley) 20:00, Christman (Spring-Ford) 20:05, Snyder (Perkiomen Valley) 20:18, Joseph (Upper Darby) 20:26, Havard (Perkiomen Valley) 20:35.
Team scoring: Spring-Ford 26, Perkiomen Valley 59, Owen J. Roberts 94.
Power (Spring-Ford) 15:57, Garton (Perkiomen Valley) 16:44, Tupper (Spring-Ford) 16:45, Friend (Perkiomen Valley) 16:58, Heininger (Spring-Ford) 17:10, Kerknia (Upper Darby) 17:17, Singh (Upper Darby) 17:18, Jain (Spring-Ford) 17:20, Parr (Spring-Ford) 17:22, Barth (Perkiomen Valley) 17:24.