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Lady Mounts look to repeat
When the Ephrata girls track team enters the Hempfield Stadium Friday, they’ll do so as the defending L-L League champions.
A year ago, the Lady Mounts blew away the rest of the field in the 1600 relay, the final event of the day, to stake their claim to their first-ever league crown with an 89-85 victory over runner-up Hempfield.
The big question heading into this weekend’s meet is, “Can the Lady Mounts do it again?” Certainly, Hempfield will have something to say about it, but Ephrata definitely has the weapons to challenge again. And according to Head Coach John Keller, the Lady Mounts will be ready for the challenge.
“I think the girls will be dialed in come this weekend,” he said Monday. “For some, this will be a new experience, but the majority of the girls were on last year’s team. I told the team that we are not going to change anything, or any approach to what we have done all season. Nothing seemed to faze them all spring, and I do not see that changing.
“This year was a heck of a girls ‘team effort,’ and that is what it will take this weekend. Anything can happen in these championship meets. Hopefully you get some help from some of the other athletes from other teams and take care of your own business in each of the event. I think we will do that and the end result will take care of itself. Overall, I think the girls mindset is pretty good. They seem focused and ready to meet the challenge.”
According to Keller, Ephrata, which took six first places a year ago en route to winning the title, will need to pull off a similar feat to knock off pre-race favorite Hempfield. The Lady Mounts are strong in several of the relays, and their big guns sprinter/jumper Kelly Liebl and thrower Crystal Hartman need to perform well.
“We are going to have to pull off some wins for sure,” he said. “We have two relay teams capable of winning and both Kelly and Crystal have to come up big for us. But more so than that, I think there are girls in the league who can help offset some of the points and that can help you in a meet like this if the places line up right in your favor. Obviously Hempfield should probably be the favorite, but anything can happen in these championship meets.”
Heading in, Ephrata has the top time (49.6) in the 4X100 relay (Kay Liebl, Cassie Vaitl, Yasi Davis, Kelly Liebl) while Hartman has the top throw in the javelin this year at 134-8. Liebl is ranked in a tie for second in both the 100 (12.1) and 200 (25.5), and is third in the long jump (17-0½).
On the boys’ side, Keller anticipates the 4X800 relay of Chris Hershberger, Sam Wolde, Nate Becker and Alex Smith to be in the medal mix, and smith should also challenge for a top spot in the 1600, where he is ranked third with a time of 4:29.9.
While neither Cocalico boys or girls are expected to challenge in the team standings, both squads have been peaking recently and some athletes who could shine at this weekend’s meet.
“I am very excited when I think about our team headed into the league meet,” Cocalico Coach Ron Derr said Monday. “The last two meets we really started seeing a number of our athletes progressing and heading toward peak performances so I’m looking for that direction to continue. I am seeing a lot of excitement about the post season building in our kids so all the signs going into this weekend are very positive.”
Certainly, senior thrower Jhet Janis has some high expectations for the post season. The Oregon-bound star has the top throw in the league (203-4), which is more than 12 feet further than his nearest challenger. A year ago, he took second at both the L-L and District Meets behind Manheim Central’s Cole Proffitt before placing seventh at States.
According to Derr, Janis’ whole focus this year has been on the post-season, and it’s finally here.
“Most of Jhet’s goals involved his expectations and dreams for a big post season,” Derr said. “He has already accomplished some great things this year and throughout his career at Cocalico…we think the best is still to come.”
Others on the boys’ side who could make their way to the medal stand include Mark Ulysse in the long jump, Alec Whitsett in the hurdles, and the 4X100 relay squad.
As for as the Cocalico girls are concerned, sophomore Emily Stauffer would be getting top billing after winning both L-L and District gold a year ago and placing second in the State in the shot put. However, a pre-season shoulder injury derailed her early in the season, but she has since emerged throwing left-handed. And this past weekend, she qualified for leagues with a throw of 36-2, which ranks her seventh going into the competition.
Certainly don’t count her out. And also count on the girls 4X100 team of Carrie Sensenig, Stephanie Wahl, Emily Johnson and Emily Fassnacht giving Ephrata its biggest challenge in that event. The Lady Eagles defeated Ephrata early in the season at the Black Knight Invitational before losing to the Lady Mounts in the dual meet and again this past weekend at the Blue Streak Relays.
Still, they set a school record of 49.7 this past week and should be right in the mix for gold.
“In looking at the honor roll our girls 4 x 100 relay has an opportunity to continue what so far has been a stellar season,” Derr said. “They have already broken our school record twice and as coaches we believe this is still some room for some improvement. Each meet Emily Stauffer continues to amaze everyone with what she can do from the left side, so it will be interesting to see how she does this weekend. I don’t know if she would be considered a gold medal challenger just yet, but I have learned better than to underestimate that young lady.”
Other medal contenders on the girls’ side include: the 4X800 relay; sophomore Megan Gingrich in the 300 hurdles; Jenna Lawville in the javelin; Wahl in the hurdles; and Sensenig in the sprints. Senior Marissa Gingrich, who took third a year ago in the 800 and made her way to States, is slowly making her way back from an injury but could be a factor as she regains her health.
Action begins Friday at 4 p.m. at Hempfield, and continues Saturday at 10 a.m. with action proceeding through the afternoon.
This past Saturday, both the Ephrata and Cocalico teams competed at the 20th annual Blue Streak Relays held at Manheim Township High School.
Ephrata won a total of six events on the day (2 boys, 4 girls) to finish second on the girls side and seventh in boys’ action.
The Lady Mounts, who finished with 67 points and placed only behind champion Hempfield (72), were led by Kay and Kelly Liebl, who each were part of three of the four girls victories on the day.
On the boys’ side, Ephrata captured the 4X1600 relay as the team of Chris Hershberger, Nate Becker, Rhett Hart and Alex Smith ran to victory in a time of 18:54.2. And the Mounts also were victorious in the javelin as the team of Will Young and Brenden Ruth threw for a combined total of 299-6 to win that event as the Mounts finished 7th in the team standings with 29 points.
In girls action, the Liebls turned in a combined first place jump of 31-10 to capture the long jump. Kelly had the top jump of the competition at 16-3¼.
The two sisters also helped the Ephrata 400 and 800 relay teams to wins. The 800 team of Kay Liebl, Yasi Davis, Julia Yoder and Kelly Liebl took first place in a time of 1:48.1 to nip Manheim Township (1:50.1) for the gold.
And in the 400 relay, Ephrata out-dueled Cocalico in perhaps the most highly-anticipated match-up of the day. It was third meeting of the season between the two talented relays.
Cocalico had defeated Ephrata at the Black Knight Invitational before Ephrata bested the Lady Eagles’ squad at their dual meet two weeks ago.
Saturday, Cocalico held a decent lead at the final hand-off before Kelly Liebl was able to edge Cocalico closer Emily Fassnacht at the finish line. Ephrata’s team of Kay Liebl, Cassie Vaitl, Davis and Kelly Liebl posted the top time in the county this year with a 49.6. Cocalico’s team of Carrie Sensenig, Steph Wahl, Emily Johnson and Fassnacht also ran its PR with a second-place time of 49.7.
The Ephrata girls’ final win on the day came in the 4X1600 relay where the team of Jordan Carvell, Haley Schaller, Taylor Mahlandt and Vanessa Hurst captured first in a time of 22:44.4.
Other place winners on the day for the Ephrata girls included: Shuttle Hurdle Relay (Natalie Flaim, Erica Voigt, Amanda Hauser, Kaitlin O’Hanlon), 6th place, 1:14.5; 3200 Relay (Schaller, Mahlandt, Carvell, Hurst, 3rd place, 10:09.4; 1600 Relay (Davis, Elina Opalko, Sam Weaver, Voigt), 3rd place, 4:24.8; Discus (Isabel Witmer, Crystal Hartman), 3rd place, 186-8; Javelin (Aimee Andrew, Hartman), 5th place, 174-3; Triple Jump (Voigt, Yoder), 4th place, 64-0¼; and Pole Vault (Kay Liebl, Vaitl), 5th place, 15-6. Hartman had the top throw of the competition in the javelin with a toss of 113-2.
Other place winners for the Cocalico girls, who placed 8th in the team standings with 24 points, included: Shot Put (Emily Stauffer, Kayla Young), 2nd place, 63-6¼; Discus (Fassnacht, Jenna Lawville), 5th place, 163-10; and Javelin (Lawville, Olivia Tuel), 3rd place, 187-2. Stauffer had the top throw in the shot put with a heave of 36-2.
On the boys’ side, in addition to its two wins, Ephrata’s other place winners included: 800 Relay (Sam Anyona, Mark Njenga, Mitch Martin and Travis Troutman), 6th place, 1:37.3; 3200 Relay (Hart, Hershberger, Beck and Smith), 3rd place, 8:34.9; 1600 Relay (Anyona, Smith, Njenga and Troutman), 5th, 3:41.1.
The Cocalico boys finished with eight point son the day and in 12th place overall.
The top finishers were in the javelin where Stewart Martin and Michael Micozzi placed fourth with a combined throw of 263-8. Ephrata’s Ruth had the top throw in that event with a heave of 150-2.
Other Eagle place winners included: Shot Put (Abdul Saad and Ben Imhoff), 5th place, 81-9½; and Discus (Saad and Martin), 5th place, 218-7.