Power, runner and stellar — whenever you read those three words in a sentence in a sports article, it's a safe bet that the story is about football. But it's not a foolproof bet — especially if the story concerns Spring-Ford High's Paul Power.
This year, Power established himself as one of Spring-Ford's all-time best distance runners. The Rams' speedy junior was the only area runner to win a medal at the PIAA Class AAA Cross Country Championships and was the top local finisher at the District One Class AAA Cross Country Championships.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Power has been selected as the 2013 Times Herald Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
At the state championship race at Hersheypark's Parkview Cross Country Course, Power crossed the finish line with a time of 16:39 to finish 20th overall.
"The hills at Hershey were tough,' said Power, "but I had already experienced running at states so that helped a lot. I got off to a pretty good start. I was all the way at the end (box) on the start so I knew I wouldn't get trapped. I was up with the lead pack early and then just tried to hold on.
"In the second mile I just tried to stay with the lead pack. I was sixth or seventh at the two-mile and my time was around 10:05.The third mile went great — until the last hill. That hill hurt. Right after the hill about 10 guys passed me. I tried to kick, but my legs were on fire.'
One week earlier at Lehigh's University's Goodman Campus on Friday, Power posted a time of 15:36 to win a 10th-place medal at the District One Boys Class AAA Cross Country Championships.
"My foot was fine for districts,' said Power. "I had a good race. I just tried to stay with the lead pack. I sprinted out at the beginning and got out OK. I wanted to stay relaxed. I got up to the lead pack of about 15 at the mile mark.
"I just tried to stay with them as best I could. On top of the hill, I was in fourth place. I just didn't have a great kick at the end. I was in fourth with 800 meters to go and got passed by six guys down the last straightaway. I just didn't have anything left at the end.'
Power's foot could have been a problem after what happened at the Pioneer Athletic Conference Championships at Heebner Park in Worcester.
At the sound of the starter's gun at the PAC-10 meet, the runners took off from the starting line. Then, Power, who was the pre-race favorite, lost his shoe approximately one-tenth of a mile into the race. He continued to run the remaining three miles with just one shoe and finished first with a time of 16:30.
"That was a rough race,' said Power. "My teammate Raghav Jain got pushed into me and almost took my shoe off. It was loose but it had the (timers' scoring) chip in it so I flipped it up to myself. I just grabbed it and didn't want to stop. It never crossed my mind to stop.
Power caught the shoe and carried it (and the chip) in his hand for the remainder of the race — a race over a variety of tough surfaces.
"Looking back, I should have gone off and put my shoe back on right then,' said Power. "On the gravel, my foot hurt a lot. On the grass, it felt fine. I heard five-flat at the mile. I was running hard that first mile because my mile is usually five-flat or a little under. In the second mile, I was trying to push it and build my lead.'
When the race concluded, Power had a gold medal — and a number of blisters.
"With the blisters, I was a little concerned because districts were only a week later,' said Power. "But my mom is a physical therapist and she fixed me up.'
Power also added another gold medal to his collection earlier in the season when he won by a large margin at the Chris Fretz Invitational Cross Country Meet at Perkiomen Valley High School. 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.
"This was definitely an over-the-top season for me,' said Power. "All my races were pretty good and the state race was probably the best. It's great knowing that I can push myself even more next year.'
2013 TIMES HERALD BOYS CROSS COUNTRY ALL-AREA TEAMS
COACH OF THE YEAR
Mike Werner, North Penn
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Paul Power, Spring Ford
Austin Cooper, Upper Merion
Dave Garton, Perkiomen Valley
Ryan Grace, North Penn
Paul Power, Spring Ford
Sam Ritz, Germantown Academy
Dan Shalala, Plymouth Whitemarsh
Ryan Tung, North Penn
Matt Aham, North Penn
Brendan Bilotta, La Salle College
Tom Duffy, Methacton
Pat Hopkins, Methacton
Jared Kline, Methacton
Lukas Marcelis, Wissahickon
Andrew Stewart, Upper Dublin
Solomon Barth, Perkiomen Valley
Anthony Camasso, North Penn
Matthew Fohner, Archbishop Carroll
Raymond Friend, Perkiomen Valley
Patrick Grant, La Salle
Andy Harman, Wissahickon
Matt Heininger, Spring-Ford
Josh Herman, Germantown Academy
Kyuande Johnson, Wissahickon
Jeff Kirshenbaum, Methacton
Tristan Marcelis, Wissahickon
Sam O'Connell, Upper Dublin
Josh Tupper, Spring-Ford