Stamina Key To Duffy's Success Even A Turned Ankle Couldn't Stop This O'hara Senior Who Helped His Team Win The Catholic Crown.

Posted: November 16, 2000

Sean Duffy is used to striding, surging and sprinting on the cross-country course. But even when he's limping and lagging, the Cardinal O'Hara senior proves he's better than most.

In Sunday's Catholic League championship meet, the Cardinal O'Hara senior turned his right ankle on a rock midway through the 3.1-mile course at Fairmount Park's Belmont Plateau. The Lions were contending for the title after placing second the previous two years, and Duffy wasn't about to let a bum ankle get in his way, even if he had to drag it the rest of the way.

"My thought was I was going to finish because I knew the team would need every point it could get," said Duffy, The Inquirer's Main Line and Delaware County area boys' cross-country runner of the year. "The way I was brought up was to finish the race if you can."

Duffy not only finished, he placed sixth with a time of 16 minutes, 39 seconds as the Lions won the league championship.

"It [the ankle] was hurting bad enough," he said. "I was definitely favoring it. The downhills were torturous."

The torture was soon replaced by elation when he learned that the Lions had scored 46 points to beat second-place La Salle, which finished with 61.

"We've been looking at that for four years," Duffy said. "You need an outstanding team to win the Catholic League championship. There is always somebody there."

Duffy has always been there for the Lions, since he and fellow senior Rich Anderson were freshman phenoms. In addition to placing sixth in the league, Duffy won the Delaware County title this season.

"He's dedicated," O'Hara coach Ed Adams said of Duffy. "He'll knock himself out. He won't cut corners."

It's always been that way for Duffy, who began running as a fourth grader at Our Lady of Fatima. In addition to running track every year through the eighth grade, he also competed in cross-country in the seventh and eighth grades.

There was no doubt he was ready to compete on the high school level when he arrived at O'Hara as a freshman, and he didn't disappoint. He gained first-team all-Catholic honors and placed 16th in the championship meet as the Lions finished fourth in the team standings. Duffy's best of 16:01 at Belmont Plateau also set O'Hara's freshman record.

As a sophomore, Duffy missed more than a month of the season with a foot injury. He still placed 11th in the league meet and earned first-team all-Catholic honors again as the Lions improved to second place among the teams.

Last year was Duffy's best yet in cross-country and track. O'Hara placed second again in the league meet, and Duffy finished second among the individuals. He also placed third in Delaware County.

O'Hara forged a national reputation last winter and spring as its distance-medley relay team placed second at indoor nationals and its 4x800-meter relay team finished third at outdoor nationals. Duffy was a member of both squads, running the mile in the distance medley.

With a combination of speed and strength, Duffy owns personal bests of 4:16 in the mile, 1:55 in the 800 meters, and 53 seconds for 400 meters. He was the league champion in the outdoor mile, and both relay teams were named all-Americans.

Duffy, who also is an excellent student, counts La Salle and American University among the schools he is considering.

Ira Josephs' e-mail address is ijosephs@phillynews.com

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