Dual Threats: EHS boys, girls enjoy 4-0 day

By on September 24, 2014
Ephrata runners Nate Becker (left to right), Zach Lefever and Rhett Hart finished one-two-three in the boys race Tuesday. (Photo by Dick Wanner)

Ephrata runners Nate Becker (left to right), Zach Lefever and Rhett Hart finished one-two-three in the boys race Tuesday. (Photo by Dick Wanner)

What starts out looking like mass confusion, ends up with the most organized result in high school sports. Five cross country teams from across both Lancaster and Lebanon counties descended on Ephrata Middle School Tuesday afternoon for varsity boys, varsity girls and junior high races.
There is no way to count, but it appeared that between runners from the five schools, parents, siblings, coaches and officials, the total in attendance was somewhere in the 600-700 neighborhood. The teams were bunched with their backpacks, drink bottles and discarded warm-up gear, stretching and preparing for the starter’s pistol.
The coaches were scouting the perfect vantage point to urge their teams on throughout the races. The parents were anywhere from along the finish line to keeping the younger brothers and sisters occupied by kicking soccer balls and doling out snacks. The officials were synchronizing their watches.
As each run started, the five teams bunched together, ready to dash onto the grass course and some semblance of organization. The combatants came from Ephrata, Warwick, Lampeter-Strasburg, Lebanon and Elco.
And host Ephrata put on a show. The Mounts’ top three runners crossed the finish line before anyone else in both varsity events, sweeping all eight matchups.
The Ephrata girls, who now sport a perfect 14-0 record, took out Lampeter-Strasburg (18-40) and Warwick (17-44), while dispatching ELCO (16-51) and Lebanon (15-55) as well..
Sophomore Haley Schaller took individual honors, placing first overall with a time of 20:24. Junior Taylor Mahlandt was in second place, just eight seconds off the pace at 20:32.1, and senior Andrea Castillo (20:32.6), after a mad dash to the finish, was a half second back in third, just two-tenths of a second ahead of Lampeter-Strasburg’s Ashley Stoltzfus (20:32.8).
Jordan Carvell was fifth overall in a time of 20:41 while Madison Fox rounded out the top five for Ephrata with a 10th-place finish in a time of 21:39.
The Ephrata boys, at 12-2 on the season, bested Warwick (20-37) and L-S (17-41), while also downing Lebanon (17-43) and Elco (18-46).
The Mounts took the top two spots in close fashion, as junior Nate Becker crossed the line first in 16:54 while sophomore Zach Lefever was three seconds later, coming in at 16:57. This was the first time both runners got under the 17-minute mark this season, while junior Rhett Hart was third in 17:23, 10 seconds in front of Elco’s Jonathon Garcia (17:33).
Chris Hershberger (8th, 18:00) and Dayne Wetzel (13th, 18:29) rounded out the top five for the Mounts.
Following the boy’s race, Becker talked about the challenges of the Ephrata course.
“There are several sections where you have to push,” he said. “The uphill part between 3,000 and 4,000 meters, the final turn and then of course, the final stretch.”
On strategy, he replied, “Today, I wanted to start fast and go out to a lead (which he did). In other races, I may wait until later. It depends on who is in the run.”
Fourth-year Coach Mike Hershberger was impressed with the personal bests of his top two runners.
“The course is very hard today,” he said. “Toward the end of the year, there is less grass to slow you down with drag. This is the time to go for it.”
Ephrata did just that, both on the boys’ and girls’ sides, Monday. And both are on pace to challenge for respective Section One titles.
The front running Mounts will be back at Ephrata on October 14 for the Lancaster-Lebanon League meet. Between now and then, there are two big meets remaining, which including going against seven teams. The biggest challenges for the boys include Cedar Crest and Elizabethtown, while the girls face Manheim Township in the season finale.
And if the results of the junior high races are any indication, Ephrata is primed for the future as well. Both the younger boys and girls were 4-0 against the same teams on Tuesday.
Elsewhere in cross country Tuesday, Cocalico hit the road for a five-team meet at Cedar Crest.
In girls’ action, freshman Jamie Zamrin captured first place overall with a time of 20:47 to help Cocalico go 2-2 on the day.
The Lady Eagle defeated both Annville-Cleona (21-40) and Columbia (15-55) but suffered losses to Donegal (20-38) and Cedar Crest (22-37).
In addition to Zamrin, Katelyn Bollinger finished 13th for Cocalico with a time of 22:47 while Katie Grobengieser (14th, 22:58) and Maegan Weinhold (18th, 24:17) .
In boys’ action, the Eagles also went 2-2 on the afternoon as they defeated Columbia (15-51) and Donegal (26-31) but lost to Annville-Cleona (15-55) and Cedar Crest (15-55). Cocalico didn’t have any runner finish in the top 20.

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