Cougars senior Liam Walsh has been one of the county’s strongest distance runners since he was a freshman; truly in the upper echelon the past two seasons. But he’s turned a corner this winter, Coach Seann Pelkey said. Though standing out in Montgomery County middle and long distance running is not easy, Walsh is no longer content settling for top 5. He has the capacity to win events, Pelkey said, and he’s finally truly embracing that.
Walsh won his first county title on Jan. 20 in the 800-meter run, an event dominated in recent years by 2015 Northwest graduate Diego Zarate, and finished second in the 1,600m run. Those performances, Pelkey said, should help catapult him into the postseason.
“When Liam was a younger runner on the team, he always just kind of was there hanging (with the top guys), doing whatever they did and sometimes passing them, but he was doing very little work on his own when it came to racing,” Pelkey said. “When they graduated there was a transition and Liam had some trouble … in terms of racing and taking ownership for himself. I refer to it as learning how to win.”
That is exactly what Walsh has done. He has always been one of Quince Orchard’s most gifted athletes, Pelkey said, but that doesn’t always translate into race wins. The first step is being able to visualize oneself as a champion. Tactically, Walsh has seen and experienced it all. But now, he’s at the point, Pelkey said, where he has confidence in the miles he’s put in. And he’s reading races better than ever.
Led by Walsh and Gregory D’Elia and Dylan Bikim, who took first and second, respectively, in the high jump, Quince Orchard’s boys finished third at counties, one point out of second. The Cougars are looking to build on that moving forward into the postseason.
“The person in the lead is going to do more work than anyone else in the field, in terms of energy output,” Pelkey said. “There is a certain level of anxiety that if you’re in the lead, you’re in control of a lot of the variables, but you have no idea what’s going on behind you. But you have instincts, like the sound of the crowd, sound of steps coming up behind you, sound of breathing. Liam has built that. He’s well aware of what’s going on around him. … You get to a point where you’ve been doing this now for several years and you can look around and say you’ve done as much, if not more, than any single one (of your competitors). So, why not make it me? Once Liam got into that phase of his life, (he’s taken off).”