BUCKTOWN — After a disappointing start to the season, the Owen J. Roberts girls track and field team got its act together Wednesday.
Last year, the Wildcats girls lost only one dual meet. This year they started out with two straight losses.
They got back on track with a double dual sweep, flying past Upper Perkiomen, 134.5-15.5, and Pottstown, 133-15, in a Pioneer Athletic Conference double dual win at Wildcats Stadium to even their record at 2-2 PAC-10.
The Upper Perk (1-2) girls held off Pottstown (0-4), 79-65.
Not to be outdone by the Lady Wildcats, the Owen J. Roberts boys (2-2) held off hard-charging Pottstown 86-64, and Upper Perk, 92-58.
The Upper Perk boys (1-3) dealt a heartbreaking loss to the Trojans (2-3), beating them by a mere point, 75.5-74.5.
For the OJR seniors it was their last home dual and a number of them said goodbye with big wins.
On the OJR girls side, seniors Jill Weston won both hurdle events, taking the 300 hurdles (45.8) and the 100 hurdles (15.7). Maddie Cobb won the 100 (12.3) and the 200 (26.8). Sarah Taylor easily ran away with the 1,600 win (6:45). Away from the track, Theresa Walsh scored a hat trick in the throwing events, winning the shot put (29-0), the discus (87-1) and the javelin (87-5). Senior Ashley Kucera only joined the team last year and had never won a home race but said her goodbye to the track with her first win, taking the 400 (1:02.6).
But it wasn't just the seniors, OJR sophomore Becca Painter had two wins, taking first in the high jump (4-10) and the long jump (16-6).
"It's nice to run fast and not just for winning,' Weston said. "Our team is really young, a lot of freshman. They are working really hard and I think by the end of the year, hopefully, we'll be able to show everyone how much we've improved. It would have been nice to get some wins earlier, but it's OK. As long as we're in the Final Four. That's the goal.'
On the OJR boys side, the Wildcats pulled out big wins with their depth and talent. Senior Steve Daloisio said goodbye with winning the 3,200 (10:46.0) that played a huge role in the win. Senior Christian Marks won the discus (116-8), senior Colin Tucci won the pole vault (12-0) and junior Nate Smith won the 300 hurdles (42.5).
Justin Beasley-Turner had one exhausting day for Pottstown, anchoring the Trojans wining 4x800 relay, then running three more distances event and taking third in the 1,600 (5:01.2), third in the 800 (2:13.3), and third in the 3,200 (10:56.6).
Also for Pottstown, Denzel Harvey was running his best sprint times, winning the 100 (10.8) and the 200 (22.5) while Bryant Quill also came away with a double win, taking the 100 hurdles (15.3) and the high jump (6-0).
The Upper Perk boys were led by Jake Keiper, who won the 1,600 (4:55.9) and the 800 (2:03.3). And senior Travis Kline had a double win in the jumps, taking the long jump (21-3) and the triple jump (42-6).
But while so many were still complaining that there hasn't been a warm and windless day for spring track yet, Weston got the afternoon started on a high note for the OJR girls running away from the field in the 300 hurdles, the opening event.
Cobb had been slowed down by a back injury that dated back to July. She felt back in form and ran terrific times.
"Everything is finally going well,' Cobb said. "Definitely feeling pumped today, giving it everything I have. Coming off being hurt, my coaches have been very helpful and I'm really excited now. We got the talent, we just got to get the ball rolling. The early part was kind of tough for us, but we're back.'
Taylor said she was just happy to win on this home track one more time.
"It was depressing to lose those first two meets, but I think it's a motivating factor for everyone,' Taylor said.
Kucera played softball as a freshman and sophomore, but switched to track her junior year.
"We're all excited because it's our last home meet,' she said. "I really like softball, but I was running the bases and thought, ' Hey, I might as well be running around the track. I think it would be fun.' So I joined the track team. It's like one great family and that's what really attracted me to running.'
The OJR girls did it without standout Holly Sullivan, who is sidelined due to injury but was still cheering her teammates on. It was bittersweet not to compete in what would have been her last track meet at Owen J. Roberts.
"I tore my hamstring in my left leg at a meet long jumping over the winter at indoor states,' Sullivan said. "Just taking it day-by-day. I'm not sure yet when I'll be back. I definitely hope to be back this season. It's definitely hard for me to watch this, a hard mental thing to deal with.'
But the Cats girls pulled it out without her, much to Sullivan's delight.
In the boys meet, Smith set the tone for OJR in the 300 hurdles.
"We have some really good players here, everybody is running real fast, so I think we have a good chance to make the Final Four,' Smith said. "Our record hasn't shown it so far, but it's a long way to go. This is our last meet here this season, so all the seniors are very excited and their energy is rubbing off on all of us.'
Beasley-Turner then got the Trojans going full speed when he anchored 4x800 relay to a win.
"We always accept the challenge, always do our best and take care of business,' Beasley-Turner said. "I was pumped for today, couldn't wait.'
Harvey is yet another standout basketball player just as fast on the track. He hasn't lost a sprint race yet this season.
"Basketball players are just good athletes and they work hard,' he said with a smile. "We're pumped for this meet. But our coach (veteran Mary Ann Hill) gets us pumped for every meet. It's too early to think about Final Four. We're just working hard to get there.'
Quill, also a Pottstown basketball standout, is not only chasing running wins, but also big brother Ray Quill's Pottstown High School high jump record of 6-9. He stopped here at 6-0 because he had it locked up. But he didn't slow down in the 100 hurdles.
"I just go as hard as I can every event; it's like a steam engine pumping before the race,' Quill said. "It's going to be hard to break big brother's high jump record, but I think I can do it.'
He is only a junior and that gives him extra time.
For Upper Perk, Keiper has been a distance standout since his freshman season. Now he is a junior and once again was the Indians main man on the track.
It's kind of a new beginning for Upper Perk, with coach Todd Niemann back in charge after a three-year hiatus.
"We have some real good freshmen that are winning, so there's going to be a new generation to bring track and cross country back,' Keiper said. "Definitely glad to have coach Niemann back. The teams seems to be a lot better with him back.'
Indians junior Quinn Bilger, who won the 400 (53.4), echoed those sentiments.
"I've been running the 400 since I was freshman, but I wasn't on the varsity team,' Bilger said. "Now I'm a junior and I'm running more events, like also the 100 and the 200. This is only my second win. I'm getting better every day. And with a new coach and everything this year, it's a lot better program. And we're going to get better as the years move on.'
The OJR girls win was pretty much a lock midway through the meet. The boys win came down to the wire, keeping OJR coach Eric Wentzel on edge. He didn't know for sure until he came up to the press box to check with the official score keepers.
"What we needed was a confidence builder today,' Wentzel said. "That was good one today because they really performed well. As for the girls, two earlier loses, and 0-2 is what it is, but we ran two early good teams in those meets, Methacton and then Perkiomen Valley. They are excellent teams. So I didn't look at those losses as a downer, I just wanted the kids to come out and compete today. We showed up a little better and that's all I can ask.
"And sure, you want someone like Holly (Sullivan) out there. But the big difference of not having Holly out there is her ability to raise the level of everyone else. A Division I athlete (Sullivan is moving on to Rider University) raises everyone's level. We miss her points, but even more, we miss her presence in the lineup to raise everyone's level up a notch.
"As for our boys team, again we started out running two really good teams and struggled. It was tough competition again today, but they came through.'
Follow Rosemarie Ross on Twitter @RoseRoss31