Ephrata runners to battle in 2011

By on August 24, 2011

By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor truth.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

Tyler Sensenig is the top returning runner for the Ephrata boys cross country team. (Review File Photo)Tyler Sensenig is the top returning runner for the Ephrata boys cross country team. (Review File Photo)

First-year Coach Mike Hershberger, who takes over for Ken Cislak this year, inherits a Mountaineer cross country team that figures to be a competitive one in 2011.

The boys’ team, coming off a 4-17 season, returns three of its points scorers from ’10, including senior Tyler Sensenig, who finished fifth in the L-L League last year among boys. Solid runners Billy Hauser and Tyler Gallagher also are back and will be joined by newcomer Samuel Wolde, who Hershberger says could join Hauser and Sensenig among the league’s best.

"The boys team has three very good runners," Hershberger said. "Tyler Sensenig, Billy and Samuel Wolde will compete with the top runners in the league. Tyler Gallagher is a solid runner. Our fifth varsity position is up in the air right now. Our top runners will need to run well against the better opponents in the league and hopefully we will be able to close the gap of time from our number one to our number five runner.

In the mix for the fifth runner spot is a group of several runners capable of making an impact. They include: Chris Husson, Tom Shoff, Jordan Schrom, Ibsen Powers, Mitch Althouse and Mason Tillman.

"Despite last year’s record, the boys should compete with the better competition in the league as both individuals and as a team," Hershberger said.

The Ephrata girls, meanwhile, must overcome the loss of three point earners from the 13-8 squad in 2010. Madison Walmer and Melynda Beam will look to lead a tight pack of runners that also includes Sondra MacNeal, Kelly Liebl, Vanessa Hurst, Erica Voigt and Madison Fox.

"The girl’s team is set up with a lot of good talent," Hershberger said. "We will most likely not have that runner who will go out and win races, but we have 7-10 very good runners who will finish in a tight pack within 30 seconds to a minute apart. This should help not having that "front runner" so to speak and we may also displace some of the other varsity runners on the opposing team which will help. Our girls are young with only two seniors."

According to Hershberger, health is his biggest concern heading into the season.

"In cross country, staying healthy is always a concern," he said. "A loss of one key runner will hurt the team. Over the past several years, we have focused on running form to keep our runners healthy."

If his team does stay injury free, Hershberger believes both the boys and girls can be quite competitive in 2011.

"The team has done an excellent job of coming into the season in shape and everyone is very positive about practices," he said. "Ephrata Cross Country has a larger number of runners than the past several years. The group just loves to run and push themselves on a daily basis. As long as they keep the attitude we have seen all summer, they will be very good runners."

Ephrata opens the season with a five-team meet at Elizabethtown on September 7. More EPHRATA, page B-2

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