Ephrata girls cruise past Manheim Central

By on April 2, 2014

There is an extra bounce in the step of the Ephrata girls track team these days.

Guess that comes from winning two straight Section Two titles and coming off a history-making Lancaster-Lebanon League championship from a year ago.

Whatever the reason, the Lady Mounts exude confidence, and they translated that to the track and field Monday afternoon at home on a windy (but dry) day against Manheim Central.

With Central missing its best point producer in distance runner Danae Peters, this one was dominated by Ephrata. Led by triple winners Kelly Liebl and Crystal Hartman, the Lady Mounts captured victories in 17 of the 18 events contested as they rolled to a 113-37 victory in the Section Two Meet.

The win improved the EHS girls’ record to 2-0, and keeps them on track for a possible third-straight section crown.

“Manheim Central was without Danae Peters (distance) but it would not have made a difference in the outcome,” Ephrata Coach John Keller said following the win. “They were just not as strong a team as I thought they were going to be this spring. The confidence level of our girls team is really high… I can just see in the way they carry themselves. They are focused and ready to meet the challenge at hand, and (Monday) they put on a pretty dominating performance.”

Hartman earned her wins in the pits, staking claim to the shot (32-8¼), discus (107-9) and javelin (125-11). On the track, Kelly Liebl sprinted to victory in both the 100 (12.4) and 200 (25.7). She also won the long jump with a leap of 16-8, and ran anchor (with Natalie Flaim, Yasmina Davis and sister Kay Liebl) on the winning 400 relay team (51.6).

Not a bad afternoon for the junior.

“The way Kelly Liebl has come out so far this season, she looks strong, nothing is nagging at her, and as always it business as usual,” Keller said. “She has really hit some high note performances in all her events that she did not hit last year until much later in the year.”

Andrea Castillo also had a big day Monday. She had individual wins in both the 400 (1:03.7) and 800 (2:32.0), and ran anchor in the 3200 relay victory. The team of Haley Schaller, Taylor Mahlandt, Vanessa Hurst and Castillo finished with a winning time of 10:27.5.

Other individual event winners for the Ephrata girls included: Flaim in the high hurdles (17.2); Jordan Carvell in the 1600 (5:45.9); Erica Voigt in the 300 hurdles (50.9); Madison Fox in the 3200 (12:34.5); and Kay Liebl in pole vault (7-6). Ephrata also claimed the 1600 relay as the team of Davis, Elina Opalko, Chandler Shrom and Nicole Wilkerson finished with a winning time of 4:30.

Keller has been particularly impressed with his distance runners.

“Collectively our girls’ distance team has just been outstanding,” he said. “Half-miler Andrea Castillo has been the leader. She has also been asked to run the open 400 along with her other events, but the group of girls as a whole has just been dominating and really has not let the other team score but three or four points in both our meets. They run as a pack and that just demoralizes the other team when you can sweep those events.”

While the Ephrata girls were rolling, the Mounts’ boys team did fall to 0-2 in a 99-50 loss to the Barons. However, there were some bright spots, particularly in the field where Ephrata won four of the seven events.

Mark Njenga was a double winner to lead Ephrata. He captured the long jump with a leap of 20-1, and then tied Steven Young of Manheim Central for first place in the high jump (5-10).

Will Young captured victory in the pole vault (10-0) while Jimmy Hickey took first place in the shot put with a heave of 41-7¼.

“I said from the beginning of the season I like our boys throwers, and Mark Njenga has been more than holding his own in the jumps and has put up some nice early season numbers in both the long jump & high jump,” Keller said. “I look for consistency and so far he has been pretty much that. Jimmy Hickey is going to turn some heads before the season ends, and I expect Will Young to do the same in the javelin. Ryan Borchert is another guy who has been putting out two to three PRs in the throws per meet. We are just not deep on the boys side as a team and that will hurt us. But, they are competing and improving by the day.”

Ephrata added three more wins on the track. Alex Smith ran to victory in the 1600, posting a winning time of 4:50.4. And Nate Becker captured the 3200 title with a time of 10:31.7.

The final Ephrata win came in the 3200 relay as the team of Rhett Hart, Peneal Wolde, Becker and Smith ran to victory in a time of 8:42.4.

Up next, Ephrata travels to Garden Spot Wednesday afternoon for a Section Two meet, beginning at 4 p.m. Ephrata will then host Palmyra in a non-league meet Friday before entertaining Solanco next Monday at 4 p.m.

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