Mixing Swiftness And Smarts, Runners Are Set For Season They Have Strong Legs And Sat Scores - Most Of Them. The Competition Looks Tough All Over.

Posted: September 12, 1994

Some people might think that those young men running along the road each fall in the rain and cold might lack something in the smarts department. Not true.

Cross-country runners may be some of the most intelligent student-athletes in the area. Upper Dublin coach Rich Ames says the average SAT score on his team is 1,350. Jenkintown averages 1,100. Lower Moreland coach Dick Rapson says intelligence is his runners' most-dominant feature.

While the runners are smart, it remains to be seen which coaches are clever enough to get their teams to the top. The time to find out has begun.

Here's a look at area squads.

SUB. ONE AMERICAN FREEDOM

METHACTON. The Warriors move from the Liberty Division to the Freedom Division this year along with Upper Merion. Don Spitko graduated, but Methacton returns the core of a young team that finished fourth (6-7) in the Liberty last year.

Leading the way will be juniors Dave Caracappa and Ryan Bonfiglio, sophomores Mike Murphy and Steve Salotti, and seniors Nate Hersh and Dan Stone.

"We're in with some tough running schools like Wissahickon and Upper Moreland and so forth," coach Charlie Shank said. "I think we'll be competitive, but it's going to be a tough, competitive league."

SOUDERTON. The Indians (2-10) took their lumps the last couple of years with young runners, but they might be ready to turn things around.

Juniors Kevin Landt and Ken Lodge - who has already dropped his best time

from last year by 2 minutes - will pace Souderton. Coach Mike Cahill is also looking for scoring from sophomore Brent Morral and seniors Nate Paine and Zack Stair. Payne didn't run last year.

"They'll be competitive this year," Cahill said.

UPPER DUBLIN. The Cardinals (10-3) return four all-league performers, which has coach Rich Ames excited about the season.

"It's going to be fun," he said. "We run Upper Merion, Methacton and Hatboro the last meet of the year, and you can come in there being undefeated and come out being 0-3. It's a real buzz saw. Suburban One is an extremely competitive league."

Seniors Jamie Walter and Tim McDonald and juniors Willey Liao and Tim Malley give Upper Dublin a solid front-running group. Finding a fifth man to score meaningful points will be a priority.

UPPER MERION. The Vikings finished second in the Liberty last year (7-5) behind Cheltenham with a largely inexperienced team. Those youngsters now have a year under their belts, which might help them compete in the Freedom Division.

Junior Kris Feeko will lead Upper Merion along with sophomore Travis Turner, juniors Andy Belden, Erik Wilson and Larry Bruccoliere, senior Chris Ludovic and sophomores Matt Powers and Jason Lopresti.

UPPER MORELAND. The Golden Bears (10-2) finished second to Hatboro-Horsham last year and return three of their top four runners from that team.

Back this season are junior Mike Robinson and senior co-captains Mike Plunkett and Eric Evans. Coach John Heins is also expecting contributions from sophomore newcomer Mike Orzechowski, junior Pat Herron, senior Aaron Dagostino and freshman Nick Sloams.

Heins hopes to close the gap between his top four runners and the rest of the pack.

"We should be pretty good, one through four (runners), in our league," he said. "We're not going to make any impact as I see it like in the district or anything."

WISSAHICKON. The Trojans (7-7) should be right in the thick of the race for the Freedom title. Coach Bill Gallagher has a solid core in seniors Mike Ryan, Scott Romero and Erik Schmitt; juniors Ryan Payne, Kevin Teesdale, John Goldthorp and David Kim; and sophomore Dan Millikin.

"We should be better than (last year)," Gallagher said.

SUB. ONE AMERICAN LIBERTY

CHELTENHAM. Coach Tom Sexton is hoping that the Panthers (10-1) will be able to defend their title, but he acknowledged that it could be tough with the addition of Hatboro-Horsham to the division.

"I figure Hatboro is the favorite to win the league," he said. "They usually are. I feel like we'll be respectable, but I don't think we're going to be any favorites to win any league."

Senior co-captain Ben Apfelbaum and junior John D'Anjou, first-team all- league selections last year, return with second-team all-league performer Seth Herzon, a sophomore.

HATBORO-HORSHAM. All teams have their sights set on the Hatters (11-2), and with good reason. Last season, Hatboro-Horsham won the Freedom Division and placed fourth in the district meet. And the Hatters lost just one senior from that team.

Senior tri-captain Russ Coleman, who placed third in the state meet after winning the district meet, returns with sophomore Dan McKay, who just missed qualifying for the state meet as a freshman, and senior tri-captain Mike Dian.

"We're out of shape yet, but, hopefully, we'll get in shape soon," coach Bob Ayton said. "The potential's real good."

PLYMOUTH-WHITEMARSH. It will be a developmental year for the Colonials (4-8). Coach Tom McGowan is still trying to fill out his young team.

Hoping to make up for the loss of Dan Cargo, who graduated, will be sophomore Jeremy Pronchik, junior Evan Kelly, senior Jamil McCauley, junior Pat Baine, senior Dan Wertz and junior John Chin.

SUB. ONE NATIONAL COLONIAL

ABINGTON. After several lean years, the Galloping Ghosts appear to be breaking out on top. Abington went 7-4 in the league and 5-1 in the division last year, then pulled a shocker on Labor Day weekend by beating perennial powerhouse Archbishop Wood in the Wood Invitational by 15 points.

At least two runners will make things happen this year: Junior Chris

McGuiness ran the two-mile race at the state track championships last spring and set a record at the Wood meet for fastest time by a visiting runner. And senior Nathan Schultheiss qualified for states last fall. Junior Steve Gourley and seniors Greg Organtini and Brian Cross round out the top five.

NORRISTOWN. Coach Jim Caldwell takes over after coaching the cross-country team at Cardinal Dougherty.

The Eagles had only seven runners out for the team as of last week, and Caldwell was looking for more. He's also trying to build a team feeling, which he thinks can be achieved with a few more runners.

Leading the way will be seniors Jeff Fullem and Chris LeBendig, sophomore Michael Johnson and freshman Dave Vano Linda.

SUB. ONE NATIONAL PATRIOT

NORTH PENN. If it wasn't for six-time defending state champ Council Rock's being in the division, the Knights (14-1) might have a trophy or two. They won't give up trying.

Despite the loss of top runner Mike McKeeman, who graduated, North Penn returns a solid group in senior Chad Camburn, juniors Jim D'Angelo, Mike Fickert and Scott Tantino, and sophomore Bradd Delmuto.

CATHOLIC LEAGUE

KENNEDY-KENRICK. After tasting success their first year in the league, the Wolverines (12-5) could be in for a lean year.

The total turnout at Kennedy-Kenrick was five runners, including a pair of all-league first-team performers in senior John Taglianetti and junior Rob Stock. Also returning are juniors Sean Vander Neut and Mark Olson.

"It's going to be tough, real tough," coach Bryan Wilson said.

"Rob and John are running well right now. Our fortunes will depend on how they run. We're expecting them to be top-10, top-15 finishers."

LA SALLE. As always, coach Pat Devine is shooting for the top five in the league. Last year, his Explorers were 19-5 but finished a disappointing eighth in the championship meet after Jack Horgan fell in the woods at Belmont Plateau.

The rest of the team seemed to fall with him.

But this is a new year, and, with Horgan back for his senior year and more determined than ever, things could be different. Horgan was a first team all- league and all-state pick last year.

Joining him will be seniors Andy Mohl, Jim McHugh, Joe Saltarelli and Doug Giuliano, and juniors Tom O'Connell, Alex Au, Craig Petruzzelli and Matt McMullin.

BICENTENNIAL LEAGUE

JENKINTOWN. Coach Mike Patterson has been waiting three years for this season. His runners are now seniors, athletes he started coaching as freshmen when he took over the Drakes' program.

Senior David Walkenhorst will lead Jenkintown (6-7) with senior Jim Richards, who also is the placekicker and a defensive back on the football team. Seniors Tim Riggs and Erik Benson are also expected to contribute.

Patterson will also be looking to freshman Noah Malier-Rosenbaun and his brother, Damon, a senior; senior Scott Fitzgerald; junior Josh Throne; and sophomore Tom Peff.

LOWER MORELAND. The Lions (4-2) could contend for the top spot after finishing third last year.

Coach Dick Rapson welcomes the return of most of that team, led by seniors Jon Cohen and Jon Seidman; junior Rasteen Nowoorzi, who was first-team all-BAL last season; and junior Jeff Raynes. Sophomores Brian Abaluck and Craig Polokoff and freshman Glenn Ronkowski will also contribute.

"They're a nice, close bunch of kids," Rapson said. "I think they're going to challenge one another."

INTER-AC LEAGUE

GERMANTOWN ACADEMY. First-year coach Neil Jordan will try to get the Patriots off the bottom of the Inter-Ac standings. Jordan says GA will be developing talent and pointing toward the future.

Seniors Alex Rilling, Greg Patay and Jon Froelich will be joined by junior Brook Martinez, sophomores Scott Richelson, Greg Gladstone and Jamie Chadwin, and eighth grader Taylor Lukof.

PIONEER ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

LANSDALE CATHOLIC. The Crusaders (9-0) won the PIAA state and District 1 Class AA titles last year but have lost five of their top 10 runners. However, a solid core of seniors returns, led by Dan Assal, Dave Biffar and John Wichner.

Junior Duffy Swantek and sophomore Matt Rittersbach also return.

Unfortunately for Lansdale, that's the entire team, which could lead to a depth problem for coach Steve Probert.

"We're not as deep," he said. "We had 10 guys last year."

KEYSTONE CONFERENCE

PHIL-MONT CHRISTIAN. The Falcons (10-0) will be aiming for their ninth straight title this fall, but they might have to do it without senior Matt Capatola, who switched back to soccer this year. Capatola finished second in the championship meet last year.

Seniors Jason Correnti and Chris Hart placed eighth and ninth, respectively, in the championship meet last year.

They will be joined by senior Jeff Reilly; sophomores Steve Almonte, who was fourth in the championships last year, and Jeremy Correnti, Jason's brother; and freshman Pete Tyson, who was sixth in the championship meet last year as an eighth grader.

"Several of them are in very good shape physically," coach Chip Struck said.

"Better than they've been. I'm anxious to see how the dynamics form. With Matt gone, somebody's going to have to emerge as a leader."

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