UM's Magaha Wins District Title

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By Ben Reese

BETHLEHEM: Drew Magaha knew how he wanted to run his race.

The Upper Moreland senior was also aware of how difficult it would be to run in the District One boys’ cross country championship at Lehigh University.

All of which meant he had to plan and plan well what kind of race was needed to win.

His plan must have been a great one, because he toured the three-mile course in 15:16 to easily capture the title. He finished 18 seconds ahead of Great Valley's Ned Willig (15:34) and 19 seconds before Conner Quinn of Hatboro-Horsham (15:35).

“It's extremely difficult (to run in districts),” he said, “because not only at the starting line are you looking to the sides to see hundreds of guys but, as soon as you get out, everyone is getting out and you've got to make sure you get out real fast.

“But it also takes a lot out of you. You don't want to burn out right away.”

Obviously, Magaha didn't burn out right away or at all. He ran a pace of slightly more than 4:55 for each of the three miles.

“I felt really good at the beginning of the race,” he said. “I got out pretty well. I think we were all trying to judge each other to see who was going to go.”

Magaha, Quinn and Hatboro-Horsham's Sam Hibbs all were ready to jump out as the lead group. Quinn made the one-mile turn first in 4:51 but Hibbs was right behind (4:52) along with Magaha (4:55).

“I think the start went well but in the middle it got kind of dodgy,” said Magaha. “But I think at the end I knew that if I was within 30 meters I could put on a big kick.”

That kick is something that Magaha has relied on all year. And it has helped him rise to the top of his class.

“I don't want to sound (vain) but yes (I had the best kick of the front group),” he said. “I've always been that way. I knew I had it when it comes down to it.”

Quinn knew Magaha had the kick, also. And he knew he, Quinn, couldn't match it.

“I got passed by Magaha in the back cornfield (which marks the beginning of the final mile of the course),” Quinn said. “Sam (Hibbs) was actually ahead of me. Then he passed Magaha and Magaha passed him and I tried to go with him (Magaha) but I couldn't.

“I felt pretty strong in the first two miles. The last one, I kind of faded away a bit. I don't have that great a kick.”

Midway through the race, Magaha was running fourth, trailing Quinn. But there was a method to his technique – avoiding the wind.

“I knew it was windy last week and I knew that it does get pretty windy some times so you have to sit behind people, especially on those long straightaways,” he said.

In addition to Magaha and Quinn, Upper Dublin's Francis Ferruzzi finished seventh, Pennsbury's Connor Harriman took eighth and Hibbs was ninth. North Penn and Council Rock North dominated the second 10 with the Knights and the Indians both placed three runners in the next 10 and Central Bucks East and Souderton added one each.

On the team side, North Penn finished third and CR North fourth, ensuring they both go to states. Scoring for North Penn were Dan Davis (11th), Chris Trimble (17th), Jack Macauley (22nd), Ryan Grace (52nd) and Matt Molloy (53rd). Landing points for North were Ross Wilson (14th), Mac Emery (24th), James Zingarini (25th), Forrest Kentwell (61st) and Marty Leonard (113th).

Magaha and Quinn are looking forward to states, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey. The differences in the courses seem to be on both runners' minds.

“It's a much different course (for states),” Magaha said, “and I think it's still going to be the same strategy but I'm just going to put on a show. I'm not looking for a win but I just want a good race.”

The two seem to agree that the course in Hershey can be difficult. The biggest difficulty will come from the hills.

“It's really a hill runners' race out there,” Magaha said. “It's an absolutely nasty course.”

The final 400 meters of the course will be uphill, which could negate Magaha's superior kick at the finish. And it could work in Quinn's favor.

“I know that course is a lot better suited for me because I don't have a kick,” Quinn said. “The last 400 meters is all uphill.

“That course suits me a little bit better. Hopefully, I'll be top five if I run a good race.”

Magaha knows what has to be done to capture the state crown.

“Who can get up that hill fastest and who has the best kick in the last 100 meters after you get up the hill,” he said, “will win.”

For a complete list of all the individual and team results from Friday’s district meet, please click on the following link: