EHS girls clear big hurdle in opener

By on March 28, 2012

By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor, Staff Writer

Fact is, the Garden Spot girls don’t lose very many dual meets in track. So when it does happen, it truly is a big deal.

Such was the case Monday afternoon as Ephrata pulled off a stunner in the 2012 season opener in New Holland.

Led by junior jumper Mary Witmer, as well as freshman sprinter Kelly Liebl, the Lady Mounts got out of the gates quickly and never looked back en route to an impressive 88-62 victory over the Spartans.

Witmer secured four wins on the day, including a record-setting performance in the 100 meter hurdles where her time of 15.3 eclipsed the previous school record set by Courtney Beiler (15.5) in 2004. Liebl added three wins and anchored the victorious 4 x 100 relay to help hand the Spartans just their second team loss in the last 11 seasons.

"To be honest, I had my eyes on this meet since mid-winter," Ephrata Coach John Keller said when asked about the win. "With the additions of sophomore Nicole Wilkerson, as well as freshmen (Liebl), Andrea Castillo, Madison Fox and Erica Voigt, I knew going in we could compete. We just had to get past the Garden Spot mystique."

"I was very proud of our girls and I am excited about the season," he continued. "This was as big a win for our program since I have been the head coach. To be able to knock off a Russ White coached team says something. Their girls had gone 10 years straight without a loss before losing late last year to L-S. It certainly has us out of the gate fast. We just need to take this thing one meet at a time."

The Ephrata girls were dominant in their win Monday, taking 14 of the 18 events contested on a very windy day in New Holland. Witmer continued her winning ways, claiming the 400 (66.0), 300 hurdles (48.8) and triple jump (34-11 1/4) in addition to her record-setting run in the 100 hurdles.

"Mary is incredible," Keller said. "Her performance in the hurdles with that kind of wind was just phenomenal. She takes this so personal. She works so hard and just cannot fathom the thought of losing."

Liebl’s first varsity meet was a memorable one as the ninth grader earned victories in the 100 (12.5), 200 (27.0) and long jump (15-1 3/4). In the 4 x 100 relay, she teamed with Abby Binkley, Castillo and Natalie Flaim for a winning time of 53.7.

Other individual winners for Ephrata on the day included: Wilkerson in the 800 (2:41.7); Sondra MacNeal in the 1600 (5:45.3); Crystal Hartman in the javelin (114-6); and Binkley in the pole vault (8-6).

Ephrata added wins in the 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 relays to complete the huge victory.

"We had some very fortunate things happen in the meet," Keller said. "Crystal Hartman won the javelin on her last throw which is probably the best early season throw in the league, and Kelly Liebl won the long jump on her last jump. But good athletes step up when it counts. Both of them were able to do so and that was a nice 10-point swing for the girls."

"This is only the first step on our season-long goal," he continued. "We cannot get complacent and think we can slack. Section Two is very competitive and we need to continue to work hard each day and get the proper rest each night and improve as individuals. That will help make this team even stronger than it already is."

The Ephrata boys had a much tougher day than the girls as the Mounts won just six events in a 111-39 loss to the Spartans.

Billy Hauser provided two wins on the day to lead the Mounts. Hauser claimed both the 1600 (4:54.1) and 3200 (11:17).

Other individual winners included: Dagmawi Beykeda in the 800 (2:18.); and Quint Felak in the 300 hurdles (45.0).

The final victory for Ephrata was the 1600 relay team (3:58.8).

While Ephrata was in New Holland Monday, Cocalico opened its season as well, taking the long trek to Quarryville to take on Solanco.

And the Eagles opened the season with a sweep of the Mules. In girls’ action, Cocalico won 14 of the 18 events to earn a convincing 96-53 decision.

Gina Glass, Amanda Drexel and Rebecca Grube all were double winners to lead the way for Cocalico. Glass captured both the 100 (12.9) and 200 (27.6), Drexel earned victories in both the 800 (2:48.0) and 1600 (6:00) and Grube took home throwing wins in both the discus (92-5) and javelin (79-11).

Other individual winners for the Lady Eagles included: Carrie Sensenig in the 400 (65.4); Leah Wallace in the 3200 (13:54); Qayla Chism in the high hurdles (17.8); Amber Pinkerton in the 300 hurdles (55.6) and Ashlie Strenko in the long jump (14-5 3/4).

Cocalico added three relay wins to complete the team victory.

On the boys’ side, Cordell Stauffer and University of Alabama-bound Kyle Felpel both were double winners to pace the Eagles to a 91-59 victory.

Stauffer captured both the high hurdles (17.2) and 300 hurdles (36.9) while Felpel earned victories in both the shot put (59-5 3/4) and discus (190-10).

Other individual winners from Cocalico included: Tyler Buckwalter in the 200 (23.8); Jhett Janis in the javelin (156-10); Mark Belousov in the triple jump (37-11 1/2); Shea Evans in the high jump (5-10); and Ben Graybill in the pole vault (8-6).

Cocalico added three relay victories to put the finishing touches on this one.

The Eagles will be on the road again Thursday as they face Elco in a non-league meet in Myerstown. Ephrata also strays into Lebanon County to face Palmyra Friday afternoon. Both meets are set for 4 p.m. More TRACK, page B-4

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