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Conklin Leads UP Boys to Cross Country Win
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent
2019-09-11

            Blandin Conklin prepares for each cross country meet by reciting the words of Olympic legend Steve Prefontaine: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice

Indians junior Blandin Conklin came in first overall with

a time of 18:04 in the Sept. 4, meet agains PJP\.

the gift."

            Conklin and his Upper Perk boys cross country teammates took those words to heart in the opening race of the year with an impressive 22-37 victory, overcoming Pope John Paul II in sweltering conditions on September 4.

            The girls fell to PJP 17-45.

            Conklin, a junior, won the race in 18:04 while sophomore Donnie Miller was not far behind in 18:09. Those two paced a field that saw Upper Perk take 11 of the 15 top places in the race.

            "I felt really good today, considering the humidity," Conklin said as he tried to cool down after the race.

            He also praised the "collective work ethic" of his teammates. "I really enjoy being on this team."

            PJP's top finisher was Jack Brosius (19:41) who ran in States last year but is battling back from a summer illness.

            Upper Perk head coach Todd Niemann saw the meet as a measuring stick against a program that was the District I AA champs last season.

            "I told them it would be great to have this as a first meet of the season beating a team like that."

            Niemann echoed Conklin's thoughts about the team ethos, citing the leadership of senior captains Ethan Markwalter, Jon Trzaska, Ethan Trzaska and Mikey Milkowich.

           "We have a great pack that runs together. What's good is, they push each other."

            The program welcomed the largest boys team Niemann has had, 32, and the team's strength will be underclassmen, including sophomores Hunter Adelsberger and William Daub.

            "It should be interesting because we have at least 15 boys that could make varsity on a lot of other teams."

            Niemann expects the boys team to be very competitive in the Frontier Division of the Pioneer Athletic Conference predicting that his runners could end up anywhere from 2-3 to 5-0.

           The program has been reclassified as AAA, however, and securing District and State berths will be much tougher.

            "If we were still an AA school, we would be sending multiple runners to States and, possibly, be the District 1 team champion," Niemann remarked.

            The coach gives Conklin and Miller the best odds of advancing in the postseason.

The girls will be a different story.

            "Because we are relatively young and inexperienced, this will be a tough season in the beginning, just because they don't have the miles in," Niemann related.

            "This year is really going to be about learning what cross country is about, enjoying a sport, getting in shape."

            Team captains Natalia Curley (24:14) and Carolena Glackin (27:09), both juniors, were the Tribe's top two finishers behind PJP's Sarah Abruzzo (22:22), Natalie Florig (22:45) and Kathryn Todd (22:46).

            "Natalia ran very well," Niemann observed. "She just pushes herself to the point of total pain. She's very, very resilient."

            The heat was a factor for the runners, especially coming off a couple of relatively cooler weeks. According to Niemann, "The times will be slower today because of that."

            The course at the high school was altered slightly because of the construction of the new middle school, but Niemann was happy that the course is now a "spot-on 5K" after being a little short for years.

            The next league meet is Wednesday (Sept. 18) at home at 4 against Pottsgrove.


 

 

 

 

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