By ROSEMARIE ROSS
Special to Tri County
POTTSTOWN - Jonas Hampton fought off the stifling humidity to run a blistering 17:07 for the win on a difficult course.
Steph Fulmer simply cruised on to victory with a 22:25.
Both Hampton, of Pottsgrove, and Fulmer, of St. Pius X, were unchallenged in their repeat as city champs last -Wed-nesday at the fifth running of the Pottstown Area Cross Country City Champion-ships, held on the Brook-side Country Club course.
The field, once again, featured host Hill School, Pottstown, Pottsgrove and St. Pius X, also serving as a double for the last three.
And if anybody had any doubts as to who has the top cross country teams in the Pottstown area, St. Pius X erased them, winning both the girls and boys team titles once again.
The Pius girls made it four straight team titles, only missing out on the inaugural event in 2002 due to a scheduling conflict. The Pius boys captured their third straight team title led by Ryan Brennan (18:12) and Kyle Eliff (18:18), second and third across.
"We wanted to come down here and defend our championships, and we did that," said Pius coach Brian Sullivan. "It was a nice run for us on both teams. It pretty much went right to plan. We wanted to put a lot of girls up front, and we did. We knew Jonas would be strong, so we wanted to go as we close as we could after him, and we did that. It feels good to win it again."
For an October afternoon, it certainly was brutally humid out there. But Hampton had a goal, and the Falcons senior was going after it. Hill's Michael Font holds the modern course record (16:50).
"I was going for the record," Hampton said. "I figured it was going to be cooler today, then it turned out more humid than I wanted or I could have done it. It's hot out here, the gnats were killing me. I swallowed a few on the run. The whole bug situation made it worse.
"But I still wanted to see how fast I could do this course, since the record was only high 16, I figured it should be right around my alley. I knew Brennan was going to put up a good fight and push me throughout the whole race."
Brennan hung tough for the first mile, then Hampton made his move.
"I definitely felt pretty good, went through the first mile a little quick, but I definitely felt I ran a good race," Brennan said. "I just ran my race, Jonas ran his, and he smoked it, he was just flying. He's just fast. He got so much better in the last year. I hope he does really well in districts in three weeks and represents the PAC-10 well at states. But we got the team trophy, and that was our main goal. Three years in a row, I'm very proud about that."
"Jonas looked good," said Pottsgrove coach Larry Rechtin. "He's right on target for what we're trying to do. The goal is to make states again and improve on the finish of last year. He put in the miles, and it's starting to pay off."
For Fulmer, a junior, it kept her dual record perfect for the year and continued her city championship streak. She hasn't lost a dual this season and has won this city meet since her freshman year. Fulmer had a veteran Pius girls running crew when she came aboard, now she is working to bring the younger ones along. In that vein, she ran with Pius' second-place finisher Bridget Keeney until it was time for her final sprint.
"Brittney Kanach didn't run for Pottsgrove (due to an injury). I'd thought she'd give me a race like she did last year, so I was helping Bridget so we could go one-two, not really pushing it for the time," Fulmer said. "I ran two hard races last week, and I have the Harrier Invitational this Saturday, and I decided not to push too hard. The course was hilly and seemed a little long.
"It's exciting to win as a team again. Ever since this started we haven't lost. To be city champs, it's really a cool thing. This meet brings everyone in the area together and makes it special."
"It's hard keeping up with Steph because she's amazing," said Keeney, a Pius sophomore. "We definitely had to work very hard because we didn't have any extra people. I'd heard we won the team tile in the past, so we definitely had to win it again, otherwise we'd been in a lot of trouble."
The Hill girls beat Pottstown, the Pottsgrove girls did not have a full team. The Pottsgrove boys beat Hill and Pottstown, while the Hill boys beat Pottstown.
PT City Championships
St. Pius X 23, Pottsgrove 32
St. Pius X 18, Hill School 37
St. Pius X 15, Pottstown 40
Pottsgrove 25, Hill School 30
Pottsgrove 15 Pottstown 50
Hill School 15, Pottstown 50
Jonas Hampton (Pg) 17:07; Ryan Brennan (SPX) 18L12; Kyle Eliff (SPX) 18:18; Nick Casey (SPX) 18:37); AJ Discianni (Pg) 18:50; Andrew Bone (SPX) 18:51; Rich Lafferty (HS) 18:52; Forbes Wallach (HS) 18:53; Mike Karaszkiewicz (Pg) 19:08; Jon Font (HS) 19:13; Matt Yosua (SPX) 19:14; Baird Stuart (HS) 19:33; Dan Gonder (Pg) 19:34; Mason Frederick (Pg) 19:38; Tyler Gofus (HS) 19:42; Jamer Bellis (HS) 19:42; Mike Massaie (HS) 19:44; Tyler Mueller (HS) 19:46; Ben Case (HS) 20:04; Nick Van Vlict (HS) 20:19.
PT City Championships
St. Pius X 22, Hill School 33
St. Pius X 19, Pottstown 36
Hill School 26, Pottstown 29
Steph Fulmer (SPX) 22:25; Bridget Keeney (SPX) 22:48; Chelsea Mackie (Pg) 23:33; Collette Faust (SPX) 23:35; Michal Komemi (Pt) 23:49; Steph Hewitt (HS) 23:59; Elizabeth Gilja (Pg) 24:25; Nobu Fujioka (HS) 24:30; Jillian Weikel (SPX) 24:54; Brittany Tiley (Pg) 25:00; Samantha Crist (Pt) 26:10; Kara Schneidman (Pt) 26:27; Jess Nord (HS) 26:41; Dana Marian (HS) 26:43; Tiffany Scalia (HS) 26:44.
Pottsgrove did not field a full team