Members of the Upper Perk boys cross country team, left to right, Jacob Keiper, Chandler Junk, Collin Junk, Mike Sames and Avery Scripture, race off the starting line at the home meet last Wednesday against Boyertown.
Coach Todd Niemann could not find enough superlatives to compliment the Upper Perk girls country team after his team swept to victory against Methacton, 25-30, and Phoenixville, 20-36, in a race on Upper Perk’s course on Tuesday.
Niemann also had high praise for the boys team who defeated Phoenixville, 17-46, but fell to Methacton, 22-35, despite Avery Scripture taking first overall by 20 seconds.
The final home race of the season marked the first time the girls had ever defeated Methacton.
“I thought maybe we could stay close, maybe make things interesting. I’m like in total shock right now,” an elated Niemann said after the girls' race.
Led by Amanda Long’s third place finish in 20.29, several Upper Perk girls came from behind to put five runners among the top ten finishers.
Lydia Keiper finished fourth, 15 seconds behind Long. Rachel Landis (21.28) and Shae Duka (21.30) rallied to nip Methacton’s Meredith Foulke by four and two seconds respectively. Kayla Myers (22.08) sprinted past Methacton’s Theresa Stetaniak, finishing two seconds ahead, to get tenth place.
Despite the outcome, the race was not completely smooth sailing for the Tribe whose runners seemed to sag halfway through the race.
“You sit there and you watch this race and you think the race is over after the first mile, mile and a half and you kind of do a calculation to figure out what the score is,” Niemann said. “They just reached down from within. It’s incredible. It really is amazing.”
The coach used a golf cart to zip all over the course, encouraging his runners.
“Nieman helped throughout the race to tell us where we were position wise,” related Long who shattered her personal best time on the home course by 20 seconds in her final race at home. Myers was the other senior running in her final home meet.
Niemann said, “I tried to tell each one of the kids, ‘Hey look, look at the one girl in front of you, that’s the girl.’ Each one of them got one girl. It was unbelievable. It’s like a coach’s dream that they did it.”
The girls are now 3-1 in the PAC-10 and in prime position to capture a Final Four berth.
On the boys side, Scripture continued his outstanding junior year with a time that was five seconds off his personal best.
“I know I can run faster. If I had more competition, I definitely had more to give,” Scripture said after the race.
“Avery Scripture has developed into one of the best runners in the area,” Niemann said.
Collin Junk finished fifth in 17.53 and Mike Sames posted an 18.10, good enough for eighth place.
Niemann expected the meet against Methacton to be tough, and he praised his team’s effort.
“They went for it and sometimes when you go for it you don’t necessarily have it all. They gave it their best shot. I can’t complain. They pushed themselves as far as they could push themselves and came up a little short.”
The boys did get a piece of history last week, defeating PAC-10 rival Boyertown for the first time, 24-33. In that race, Scripture was second, Mike Sames was third, Collin Junk fourth, Chandler Junk sixth, Jake Keiper ninth, Joey Marinelli tenth, and Dave Hoffman eleventh.
“It’s an accomplishment,” Collin Junk said, “because when we were freshmen, these big schools would come and just stomp all over us.”
Next week, both the boys and girls teams have pivotal races against Owen J. Roberts, on the Wildcats' course, that will go a long way toward determining the Tribe’s Final Four chances.