Janis, Wahl stake claim to L-L gold
Jhet Janis can check off L-L League gold from his bucket list, and now he’ll set his sights on doing the same at Districts and then States.
Janis, the Cocalico senior javelin thrower who is committed to the University of Oregon, captured the L-L gold Friday night at the League Meet at Hempfield. On his first throw of the night, Janis uncorked a heave of 190-8 to easily take first place over runner-up Jed Sweigart of Donegal, who threw 177-7.
While he didn’t come close to his PR of 204-6, Janis was pleased to accomplish one of his big goals.
“It feels good,” he said. “I’m a little upset though. This is my fourth year here (at Leagues) and I just never seem to throw well here at Hempfield. A lot of it’s mental but I’m happy to win the gold.”
“I just didn’t feel it today…,” he continued. “I wasn’t feeling it. A lot of my stuff wasn’t clicking at the end. That’s usually how it is here. But, I’m definitely looking forward to Shippensburg because that’s my favorite place to throw. I’m really excited to go up there next weekend.”
Cocalico Coach Ron Derr added, “Jhet has faced the difficult challenge all season of being ‘the guy’ in javelin. It is no easy task to be the favorite and have a high level of expectation, so we are very proud of Jhet to meet those expectations and finish this week as league champion. He didn’t have his ‘A game’ going on Friday and has often struggled throwing jav at Hempfield, but as a mark of a true champion he was able to get it done without having that perfect night. Coach Scott Krall deserves a great deal of credit for helping Jhet develop as a thrower, and Coach Krall also really emphasizes the mental aspect of competing which is huge in the larger post-season meets.”
While Janis was expected to win gold, his teammate Shephanie Wahl put together her best performance at the right time to collect Cocalico’s other gold on the weekend.
Wahl got her steps down the night before the meet, and cashed in big time with the gold in the 100 hurdles with a winning time of 15.76
“By the first hurdle, I was over before anyone else…I had a really good start,” she said Saturday. “I kept it at the three steps and was able to carry it through. It feels really good to win this, and it gives my confidence a booster heading into Districts.”
According to Derr, getting her three steps down was the key.
“Steph’s story is such a contrast to Jhet because a few weeks ago, there was a lot of question if she would even be the one representing Cocalico in the 100 hurdles,” he said. “Coach (Lyndon) Engle had been telling me that from midseason on she was ‘getting close’ to completing a full run of hurdles by three stepping the whole set and when she would, some special things would happen. After her run in the trials Friday night, we realized that if everything clicked she would have a shot at winning the race in the finals and that’s exactly what she did. It was a very exciting moment seeing her transformation within a few weeks from working and at times struggling to better her hurdle technique to quickly become a league champion.”
While those were the lone golds won by Cocalico athletes, the girls’ 4X100 relay team of Carrie Sensenig, Wahl, Emily Johnson and Emily Fassnacht came so close to joining them. They held a three-to-four feet lead into the final leg before being nipped at the end by Ephrata’s outstanding sprinter Kelly Liebl. Ephrata’s time of 49.44 was just ahead of the school record 49.52 that Cocalico posted.
“Our girls 4×100 has had a sensational season,” Derr said. “This season we knew that they could be a very good 4×100 and it has been exciting to see them bond and develop as a unit. They have developed the ability to perform better as a combined unit than what you would expect from the individual pieces and that is a credit to the girls and also Coach (Jeff) Bertz. They race as much with their hearts as their legs and really run for each other. They did really want to win on Saturday and they certainly ran that way. They gave us a very, very exciting race, broke the school record, which they have set twice already this season and will be running in the fast heat of Districts this coming week.”
In addition to the above-mentioned events, Cocalico claimed four bronze medals on the weekend as Megan Gingrich took third in the 300 hurdles (47.79), Jenna Lawville was third in the javelin (116-10), Mark Ulysse was third in the long jump 21-3.75 and the girls 4X800 relay team of Brooke Meckley, Marissa Gingrich, Lea Dungan and Katelyn Bollinger won a bronze with a time of 10:00.63.
Other medal winners included: Marissa Gingrich, fourth place in the girls 800 (2:24.30); Abdul Saad, sixth place in the shot put 46-10#-R; and Emily Stauffer, sixth place in girls shot (33-6!-W).
“We had an outstanding weekend at Hempfield,” Derr summed up. “Our main goal is to compete in every event and as a coach I was so proud of the competitive spirit I saw in our kids. Our girls 4×800 is starting to really click and has earned the right to race again with their performance on Saturday. After a challenging year with injury issues, we are starting to see Marissa Gingrich return to how we saw her run last year. Megan Gingrich has really stepped it up in the 300 hurdles all season and seems to find a way to continue to shave a bit more time every time she races. Jenna Lawville has been a huge asset to our team and performed very well at her first league meet with her second best throw of the year. Mark Ulysse has been a big part of our boys team this year and it was fantastic to see him finish third in the long jump. What else can you say about Emily Stauffer, placing sixth in the Lancaster-Lebanon League throwing with her opposite arm &tstr; simply amazing. Abdul Saad has really been stepping up the past few weeks in shot put and finishing sixth on Saturday was a great next step in his progression. And he wasn’t able to earn a medal this weekend, but Alec Whitsett had a tremendous weekend by running a strong leg in the 4×100 relay and also competing in the 110 hurdles, 100, and 300 hurdles. He ran the fastest 300 hurdle race of his life.”
Up next, the athletes will be training for Districts, which gets underway Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University.
Todd Ruth is the sports editor for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4422