Ephrata gains inside track to section title Knock off CV girls in battle of unbeatens
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Not since 1987 has the Ephrata girls track team won a section title in track.
But that could very well change this season, thanks to the efforts of the Lady Mounts this past Monday at Conestoga Valley.
Squaring off against the only other unbeaten team in Section Two, Ephrata took a big step toward the title by earning an 84.5-65.5 victory against the Buckskins.
On a day when star Mary Witmer was beaten in her head-to-head dual with Kirsten Bass in the 110 hurdles, the junior star overcame that loss to take three other key events. Thrower Crystal Hartman also was a triple winner, claiming the shot put, discus and javelin to help lead the way.
While those two were the big point getters, Coach John Keller said it was the efforts of the entire team that pulled them one step closer to the championship.
"It was a championship effort by all 30 girls on the team," Keller said. "We took the Conestoga Valley girls’ best shot, and each time we rose to the challenge. We had some girls really step up big time and we had to reach deep with effort to gain the advantage in many events. It was an awesome meet to watch unfold and I could not have been any more proud of the results and efforts I saw put forth."
Ephrata (4-0 section, 5-0 overall) opened the day with one of its biggest victories, claiming the 4 X 800 relay with a winning time of 9:58.2. Nicole Wilkerson’s impressive kick helped the team of Sondra MacNeal, Vanessa Hurst and Andrea Castillo kick start the day with a big win.
" I thought we had to win the 4 X 800 relay and the 4 X 100 meter relay," Keller said. "That race went back and forth for the first three legs then on the fourth leg, CV actually built a lead. With 250 meters to go we saw their girl tying up and we told Nicole Wilkerson to try and go for it. She responded with a kick and surpassed the girl with just under 150 meters to go and never looked back. She ran a 2:25 split and I feel that set the tone for us right from the start."
That set the stage for the Witmer-Bass dual, although Bass, seeded second behind Witmer in the L-L League, stole the show with a quick start.
Bass got out of the gates fast and never looked back, outracing Witmer to a CV school record time of 14.9.
"Mary did not have a good start and got behind early," Keller said. "She started to press and it just did not work out to her advantage. I give (Bass) credit, she ran a one heck of a race and looked flawless. She ran a 14.9, so you cannot get to disappointed by losing to someone of that caliber."
To her credit, Witmer bounced back in a big way. She posted a time of 44.5 in the 300 hurdles to not only win that event but claim the top time this year in the state of Pennsylvania. After that, she added victories in the 400 (61.0) and the triple jump (36-6).
"After the 100 hurdles, I stopped Mary and all I said was this…’You can let this ruin the rest of your meet, or you can put it behind you and move forward and take care of the business at hand that you can still control. Mary does not like to lose, but she also has the experience to put something like that behind her and move on."
While Witmer was doing her thing, Hartman was picking up big points in the pits in winning the shot put (34-6), discus (110-7) and javelin (107-2).
And the 4 X 100 team picked up a huge win as well for Ephrata as the team of Abby Binkley, Jasi Davis, Natalie Flaim and Kelly Liebl ran to a winning time of 51.2, which is second best in the league this year.
Individually, Liebl also picked up three wins to join Witmer and Hartman as top point getters. Liebl took the 200 (26.0) and long jump (15-9.25), and her big win in the 100 (12.2) along with Melynda Beam’s victory in the 3200 (12:29.1) help put this one out of reach.
With perhaps its biggest obstacle behind them, the Lady Mounts will now set their sights on the final three meets of the season Monday at home vs. Cocalico, April 30 at home vs. Lebanon, and May 7 at Lampeter-Strasburg.
All three squads will pose a threat, according to Keller.
"I am going to remind the girls we did not win anything yet and our goals have not yet been accomplished," he said. "We still need to stay focused and take care of business one meet at a time. We have a dangerous meet with Cocalico next Monday, then we have Lebanon and close with Lampeter Strasburg. So, while I want them to enjoy the success we have had, yet keep in mind that we need to still be hungry, our goals are not met and we have a couple dangerous teams yet to face."
While the Ephrata girls were winning an important meet Monday, the boys dropped a 117-33 decision at the hands of the Buckskins.
The Mounts won just three events on the day as they fell to 0-4 in league play (0-5 overall).
In the 800, Jordan Schrom finished first with a time of 2:05.1, while Sam Wolde claimed the final win on the track for Ephrata with a victory in the 3200 (10:44.0). And in the field, Danny Matos captured the shot (46-2) for the Mounts.
Elsewhere Monday, Cocalico picked up a pair of wins in a home meet vs. Lebanon.
Both local squads were dominant as the boys captured a 133-17 victory while the girls finished with a 115-33 win.
On the boys’ side, Cocalico swept every event as Kyle Felpel was a triple winner while Brad Whittaker and Cordell Stauffer each added a pair of victories to lead the way.
Felpel took the shot (57-11 3/4), discus (177-10) and javelin (1901-9) titles while Whittaker claimed both the 100 (12.0) and 200 (24.8) sprints and Stauffer was a winner in both the high hurdles (16.6) and 300 hurdles (45.4).
Other winners for the Eagles included: Garrett Hassler in the 400 (57.6); Jake Grasser in the 800 (2:14.4); David Wenger in the 1600 (5:04.4); Josh Lorah in the 3200 (11:49.5); Mark Belousov in the long jump (19-2); Shea Evans in the high jump (6-0), Bronson in the triple jump (39-7) and Ben Graybill in the pole vault (13-3).
In girls’ action, Ashlie Strenko led the way with a four-win performance, winning the high hurdles (17.4), long jump (15-9), triple jump and high jump (4-10).
Gina Glass added wins in both the 100 (13.6) and 200 (27.6), while other individual winners from Cocalico included: Maegan Weinhold in the 400 (68.9); Emily Taylor in the 800 (3:02.4); Leah Wallace in the 1600 (6:10.4); Tabitha Derr in the 3200 (14:32.7); Amber Pinkerton in the 300 hurdles (51.2); Rebecca Grube in the discus (93-6); and (9-6). More TRACK, page B-4