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Depth has Quakertown primed for successful future

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For the Quakertown cross country program, it is about the numbers.

Yes, the Panthers have been lowering their times, but head coach Mike Mooney has been more impressed with his 20 candidates after he had 16 runners out last season.

“We’re happy with the turnout,” boasted Mooney. “We have three senior girls and one senior boy, and a lot of underclassmen who are already making an impact.

“We have depth this year and for the future.”

Senior Rebekah Hickey has been pacing both the girls and the boys units. Hickey hit her personal record of 19:34 and a 14th-place finish at the Northampton Invitational Sept. 3, and she followed that with a fifth-place finish (20:46) at the DeSales University Centaur Invitational.

Hickey, who has been running road races since she was in elementary school and was a state qualifier last season, has been pleased with her initial races.

“I feel like I have been running well, and I have been preparing hard for this season,” she said. “As a team, we have been running a lot better, and we have a very good approach to our races. We’re not as tight as we were in the past, and everyone is loose.

“There is a good chemistry here, and everyone is confident.”

Fellow seniors Risa Palmer and Kayra DeVries also have been lowering their times, and the duo has been among the Panthers’ top finishers.

Mooney has liked the early returns from the sophomore contingent of Sophie Abato, Aisy Magalengo, Sarah Morishita and boys runner Kylos Torres, who have helped the Panthers round out competitive top five finishers. The girls ran track as freshmen, but for all this is their first venture as cross country runners.

“Sophie is a solid No. 3 for us, and she has been running in the 22s and 23s,” noted Mooney. “Kylos has been in the 22s and 23s. He has a black belt in karate and is very intense. Sarah is improving, and she has been a solid No. 5. Aisy has been coming along.”

Freshman Josiah Hickey, Rebekah’s brother, has been at the head of the boys pack most of the season. He finished fourth in a freshman race at the Centaur Invitational, and has been running in the high 19s.

Sophomore Dominic Pesce and freshman Alex Rosen have been running steadily, and they have plenty of potential, according to Mooney. Lone senior Will Dickson has brought a veteran presence to the side.

In the upcoming weeks, Mooney is confident both squads can lower their differential from the top runner through the remaining four finishers, as it will be their primary goal. He scheduled his team to compete in the 16th PIAA Foundation Invitational on the state course in Hershey this weekend, priming them for a possible future date there.

“I wanted them to have a feeling running on the state course was like,” he said. “Rebekah has been here, and it also will help here. If we do get some kids here, it won’t be totally foreign.”

Yet, the veteran coach is excited for the postseason – notably the girls team – where he believes they will make an impact.

“We’ll peak at the league meet,” he stressed. “There is no doubt about it. We should have a few runners who will do well at leagues, districts, and possibly have some at states.”


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