The 1990’s

 

    The 1990’s had a good start and good finish but also suffered some lean years in between. After the  1996 season head boys ’and girls’ coach Mike McMillen  called it a career with a boys’ combined record of 163 -60. In 1997 and 1998 new head coach Brad Coyle only managed 8 wins for the boys over the two years that he coached. The following year the school split the cross-country program. Jay Williams became the new boys’ head coach and Jim Jensen became the new girls’ coach.

 

    The 1990 team needed depth to bounce back and luckily it got it. Mike Egan, a 9th grader, was a very talented (he ran a 4:35 1,600 as a freshman) runner that came out. Track runner Chad Wilkinson, a 2:00.0 800 meter runner, also came out. Two other sophomores with talent, Ed Poynton and Bob Freas joined the team and vastly improved senior Mike Fricko joined Josh D’Angelo, Pat Cromwell, and Chris Duckworth (all three having run 4:24 or faster in the 1,600M) to form a powerful team.

    In the very first race in late August on a hot day at Garnett Valley HS Josh D’Angelo, now a senior, broke the course record with a 15:44 run. The team was on its way to a     12 – 0 season with improvement in evidence each meet. In early September the team ran in the Indian Invitation (at Unionville HS, 29 teams) and finished 2nd by 5 points. D’Angelo won the race over the 3.0 mile course in a swift 15:03. In mid-season D’Angelo won another invitation, the Philadelphia Textile Invitation (now called Briarwood). Despite a torrential downpour and running through mud D’Angelo recorded the fastest time in all the three divisions competed and was named “outstanding Male Individual”. As the team headed for Delco’s a target was on D’Angelo’s back. A rival since his freshman year, Frank Nesko, running for Penncrest was a more than worthy opponent (i.e. he was District 1 XC champ in 1990). Nesko pushed D’Angelo until they crossed the small stream at the bottom of the gorge at Rose Tree when Josh opened up a small gap which he maintained to the finish. No other male or female runner in the county has won three Delco titles since the meet was first held in 1964 except D’Angelo (as of 2016). With a short five day break it was D’Angelo vs Nesko at the Central League Championships in which D’Angelo needed a 15:48 to win his third straight Central League title. Nesko was second and third was Gary Kelly of Lower Merion. All three of these runners placed in the top 20 at States. Kelly was state champion the next year in cross-country as well as the 3,200m in track.

    The team had 5 runners place in the top 11 at the Central League meet -D’Angelo 1st, Pat Cromwell 5th, Mike Egan 6th, Chris Duckworth 7th, and Chad Wilkinson 11th. Mike Fricko, Bob Freas, and Ed Poynton provided varsity support..

   At the District meet a somewhat tired D’Angelo (15:45) had an off day to finish 4th behind Nesko’s win. Pat Cromwell had perhaps his best race of the year with a 15th place at Districts and a trip to States.

   The state meet was held at Penn State. D’Angelo had a poor start and was in 15th at the mile mark. By mile two he took the lead and held it until the last 200 meters where he was outkicked by two runners and placed 3rd, three seconds behind the winner (Nesko was 8th and Kelly 20th).

   

The 1991 season ha d the challenge of fielding a team without D’Angelo and Cromwell.

Sophomore Mike Egan emerged as the team’s #1 runner. Mike placed 6th at Delcos, 3rd at Central Leagues, and his 16:07 time was good for 11th at districts and a trip to states. The 91’ team will be remembered for its upset win at the Central League Championships and Lower Merion. In the regular season dual meet the Fords lost to Lower Merion, who rested their #1 runner, no less than state champion Gary Kelly. Coming into the league championship meet Lower Merion was 9 – 0 and Haverford 8 – 1. In the meet Gary  Kelly won easily in 15:52. Lower Merion had the edge at the two mile mark but in the last mile all the Fords ran strong and moved up in the pack. At the finish Mike Egan was 3rd, Chris Duckworth 5th, Bob Freas 6th, and Ed Poynton 7th. Running a great last 800 meter charge up the final hill freshman John Ziga secured spot #19 to enable the Fords a 40 – 45 margin victory and league championship. (Gary Kelly went on to win Districts in 15:23 and States in 15:43. He was the second, and last, central League runner to win the state title.).

 

    The last boys’ team to go undefeated in the Coach McMillen era was the 1992 squad. They had a 9 – 0 record plus won the league championship scoring 44 points. The team had retained their top 5 runners from 1991 plus added the talents of first year runner, senior Mark Wilson, and rapidly improving sophomore Ross Martinson. This year at the league championship Mike Egan was 3rd (16:10), Mark Wilson 8th (16:53), Bob Freas 9th (16:59), Chris Duckworth 11th (17:04), and Ed Poynton 13th (17:13). (These last 4 runners went on to win the gold medals in the outdoor state 4 x 800 relay thanks to Wilson’s 1:53.9 anchor). For the 3rd year in a row the team placed 2nd at Delcos. In the District championships junior Mike Egan, who perhaps had the best finishing kick of any Haverford runner ever, passed a dozen runners in the last 800 meters to finish 3rd in 15:56 to earn his second trip to States.

 

    The 1993 – 1998 period was one where the team suffered a drought similar to the Fords in the early 1950’s. An omen of things to come started in 1993 when senior Mike Egan was unable to compete due to medical reasons. With Egan out junior Ross Martinson became team MVP. Along with Ross, Andrew Downs, John Ziga, and Sam Kessler ran hard but the team had only 3 wins in the league. In 1994 the team was even weaker. Ross Martinson won 8 of 9 league meets, placed 3rd at leagues, and 10th at Delcos. His 19th placed at districts earned him a trip to States. Ross was close to 6’ 4” in high school with a long, ground covering stride. But his increase in strength couldn’t keep up with his increase in height. He continued to run at Saint Josephs University and after graduation evolved to be an elite road racer. In the popular Philadelphia Broad Street Run (10 miles) Ross placed in the top 5 five on three separate occasions. His fasted time for the 10 miler was 48:58 and he has been a leader in the Philadelphia running community for many years. We always said that running is a process. I didn’t think Ross would even survive the first two weeks of his freshman XC season but will power and perseverance can never be underestimated as Ross has shown.

 

    The 1995 and 1996 seasons were average with the Fords finishing in the middle of the central league pack. The team featured two young runners that would go on to make their mark as outstanding runners. In 1995 team MVP was Andrew Downs but sophomore Aaron Rich showed flashes of things to come with a 16:46 effort at the Bulldog Invitation at Rose tree Park. Also freshman Jon Dukes was the 4th freshman to place at Districts with his 17:07 effort. Injuries, asthma, flexibility issues, and illness made both their journeys challenging and would derail one or the other until their senior seasons. Aaron Rich finally was healthy in 1997. The team had a new head coach, Brad Coyle, to run the program. Unfortunately by the end of the season the boys’ team was down to 10 runners and could only manage 4 wins. Rich, however, had a major breakout season, featuring 5 races under 16:00. At the Bulldog Invitation Aaron was 2nd in 15:42 and at the Briarwood Invitation Aaron was 1st in 16:23. The Delcos had Aaron winning again in 16:01 and he also added the central league individualtitle a week later in 15:46. At the District championships Aaron ran 15:48 to finish 3rd and in his first attempt at States medaled with an 8th place performance to cap off a spectacular season.

 

    In 1998 the team, once again only won 4 meets. A healthy Jon Dukes, now a senior, came in first in all league meets. He was first team all-Delco and all-League. His 16:19 race at Districts qualified Jon for States where he placed 43rd.

 

    The Haverford cross-country program was split in 1999. Coach Coyle did not return as coach. The new head coach for boys was Jay Williams and the new coach for girls was Jim Jensen. The success of the 1999 team depended upon the choice of junior twins Mike and Steve Lang to pursue running vs. soccer. As freshmen and sophomores they dual sported and showed great promise in running . In 1999 they committed to cross country and formed the nucleolus of an up and coming team. The team had an 8 and 1 record and the traditional depth of past Haveford teams was back as the team was very competitive down to the #8 runner. Backing up the Langs were junior Andy Talarowski, senior Sean Dougherty, junior Ben Shababo, junior Pete Taylor, and two promising freshmen Ed Dutch and Dave Hollinger. For the third year in a row Haverford was represented at States as #1 runner and team MVP Mike Lang, advanced to States with his 23rd place at Districts.

 

    In the decade the Fords won 57 meets while losing 35. In “the Shoe” series with Upper Darby our rivals still held the edge with an overall 27 wins to our 22 as we only had four wins in the 1990”s. With 7 of the top 8 Ford runners returning the team looked, with much anticipation, to the 2000 season.