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Sports Article
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Tribe Girls Gunning for PAC Title, PIAA Meet Appearance
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

Upper Perkiome's girls cross country team runs together during its Pioneer Athletic Confer-

ence meet against Pope John Paul II.


            Abigail Rowland has supplanted Maren Landis as the top performer for Upper Perkiomen's girls cross-country team. However, head coach Todd Niemann said he would not be surprised if Landis eventually regains her foothold as the No. 1 runner.

            With two elite-level runners, the Indians enter the current season with auspicious goals. Niemann expects them to compete for the Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division title. The coach said Rowland and Landis both possess the ability to qualify for the PIAA Class AA championship race. He claims they could have the depth to qualify for the race, in the smaller of two state classifications, as a team.

            "This is as good a team as I've ever had," said Niemann, in his 20th season leading the program.

            Rowland quickly emerged as the Tribe's latest freshman standout. She finished first in the team's initial conference meet, an 18-45 victory over Pope John Paul II, on Wednesday, Sept. 7. Her time of 21 minutes beat Landis, who took second place, by 14 seconds.
            Upper Perkiomen's depth allowed it to easily defeat the visiting Panthers, who qualified for states as a team last season. It placed eight runners in the top 10. A trio of juniors – Lauren Donahue (22:49), Nadia Frydlewicz (22:54), and Maggie Milkowich (22:56) – finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

            Seniors Tia Leister (23:13) and Danielle Fritchman (23:28) ended up in seventh and eighth places. Ashlee Shafer, a sophomore (23:34), took ninth place.

            A healthy competition has emerged between the two top performers, according to Niemann. He said Rowland's emergence has forced Landis, a sophomore who burst on the scene last season in a similar fashion, to continue her improvement.

"Abigail started the season with a big edge over Maren," the coach said. "Now it's down to 14 seconds. I wouldn't be surprised if Maren catches her by the end of the season."

            The two rely on opposite styles. Landis – who quickly emerged as the team's top runner as a ninth grader – sets a steady pace, noted Niemann. He said Rowland, whose mom Emily and aunt Tara competed on Upper Perkiomen's conference championship team in the late 1990s, displays tremendous speed early in a race.

            "She always has to get out really fast," the coach said. "I'm always concerned that she is going to run out of gas at the end of the race. But it's hard to tell her not to do that because she's always been successful doing it that way."

            On Saturday, Rowland posted the fastest female time in the Mixed Freshman race at Centaur Invitational at DeSales University in Center Valley. She finished first among the girls with a time of 21:54.2, nearly one second faster than Boyertown's Evangelina Montanye (22:39.80).

            Landis, who posted the top female time in last year's Freshman race, finished 11 in the girls Varsity race with a time of 21:40. Frydlewicz (23:32) and Milkowich (23:40.1) ended up in 36th and 38th places, respectively.

            The Tribe boys opened its dual meet schedule with a 27-29 victory over Pope John Paul II. Roman Macedo, a sophomore, took first with a time of 18:21.

            Jon Kuzmission (18:52), a ninth grader, finished fourth. Sophomores Ben Sensinger (19:21) and William Godshall (19:26), as well as freshman Evan Snyder (20:08) and senior Chris Shermer (20:18), each delivered top-10 finishes to help the team post an upset win.

"The boys really surprised me," Niemann said. "I thought we were going to lose. But the boys ran awesome."

            The coach said Macedo, the team's No. 5 runner in 2021, did a tremendous job preparing for the current season. He said Kuzmission's times are well ahead of Macedo at this point last season.

            "The rebuilding process appears to be ahead of schedule," said Niemann of the boys team, which lost its top four performers to graduation.

            Kuzmission posted the sixth-best boys times in the Freshman race, finishing in 19:46.8. Snyder ended up in ninth place (20:59.1).
            In the Varsity race, Macedo came in 19th (18:05.7). Sensinger finished 76th (19:55.6).






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