Liebl wins three District medals to pace Ephrata

By on May 20, 2015


The Ephrata girls 4x100 relay, including (left to right) Kelly Liebl, Jennie Young, Kay Liebl and Ariel Smith, took fourth place at Districts last Saturday in 49.28 seconds. (Photo by Bruce Morgan)

The Ephrata girls 4×100 relay, including (left to right) Kelly Liebl, Jennie Young, Kay Liebl and Ariel Smith, took fourth place at Districts last Saturday in 49.28 seconds. (Photo by Bruce Morgan)

There are certain athletes who have that “wow” factor.

You know, when the stakes get higher, they have the ability to take their game along with it.

Kelly Liebl has that.

The Ephrata senior star athlete has been a 1,000-point scorer in basketball, a key defender for the Lady Mounts’ girls soccer team that reached the State Tournament this past fall, and has won L-L League and District titles to go along with State medals in track.

She’s pretty much done it all. But this past Friday at the District Three Track & Field Championships, she added another feather to her outstanding high school career cap.

And she didn’t even win.

After sitting idle and missing the L-L League Meet due to a nagging hamstring injury, Liebl returned for Districts and opened the meet with one of those “wow” moments. Competing in the long jump, Liebl set a school record on her first jump of the day Friday when she leaped 18-feet, 2-inches. That jump held up until Fleetwood’s Cyre Virgo nipped it going 18-3 on her final jump of the day to win gold. Still, Liebl won silver to qualify for this weekend’s State Meet, and on Saturday added a bronze medal in the 400 (56.82) and was part of the 4 X 100 relay team (with Kay Liebl, Ariel Smith and Jennie Young) from Ephrata that got fourth place overall with a time of 49.28 and qualified for States in both of those events as well.

Both of those events were school records as well.

“It’s pretty bittersweet,” Liebl said when asked about her weekend. “I’m going to miss being able to come to these big meets like this, but I know that’s waiting for me at the next level too, and competing with my sister. The coaches do a lot for us so I’m definitely going to miss this Ephrata team and Ephrata athletics. But it’s definitely a good feeling to leave on a good note, especially since I wasn’t sure where things were going this season with my season with my injury. But I’d say things are turning out pretty well…how they’re supposed to be.”

“Outstanding,” Ephrata Coach John Keller said of Liebl’s performance. “Kelly does not surprise me, she has the focus, drive and what it takes both mentally and physically to compete at the highest level. Her pre-event preparation is outstanding, I do not have to worry about her getting herself ready to compete. She just does it and she does it right. After the disappointment of being held out of Leagues, Kelly was all smiles leaving Shippensburg. I was so thankful and relieved when she was done competing that we got our full slate of events in, and on top of that we got them in with record-setting performances.”

Nothing topped her first jump of the day, however.

“It was pretty exciting,” Kelly said of her record-setting jump. “I don’t know if I was expecting it, especially the way things were going with the run throughs. I could not get my feet right on the board but it turned out really well. I’m happy. I knew it was a good jump. Honestly I didn’t really know (it was that good) until after seeing how far out into the sand I went. I wasn’t really sure. I had nothing to compare it to so I wasn’t sure but I was pretty excited when I saw it on the (score)board.”

Through the heat round, no other jumper reached more than 17-2, which was a full foot shorter than Liebl’s effort. It was then that Liebl decided not to chance her bum hamstring and opted out of the finals, hoping her 18-2 would stand.

It almost did before Virgo, the next-to-last jumper, hit 18-3.

“I could have taken three more jumps,” Liebl said when asked of her decision. “But with the problems that I’ve been having with my hamstring, just getting a good jump in … I’m even lucky just to be competing here at this meet. So, after getting a good jump in, my coach and I just decided to save it for (Saturday).”

Keller added, “There was some disappointment with the decision to not have her jump in the finals. It’s a tough call, but I think the three of us, (including Jumps Coach Matt White) after we digested what had happened, agreed that it was the right decision. Give the girl from Fleetwood credit, she nailed the winner on her last jump.”

And what was Liebl’s reaction when she saw Virgo steal the gold with her late leap?

“It was so tough,” Liebl admitted. “That was really hard to see but I mean, she came out here and competed and got it so I can’t be mad at her. Congrats to her … she’s quite the athlete. I was lucky just to be here to compete with her, to be able to be in competition with her. Besides, second place is not too shabby, especially coming off the past week. I’ll take it.”

The 4×100 team from Ephrata will be heading to States after failing to do so a year ago. The team that came into the meet as the eighth seed stepped up to earn its fourth-place finish despite running out of lane eight.

“We were really nervous coming into this race because we really wanted States and we got it. So we’re pretty excited to run there,” said Smith, the second runner of the four.

Added Keller, “I could not have been happier for them. After the disappointment from last year’s team at Districts, the goal from Day One this season was for this relay team to compete at the State Track & Field meet. I have to really hand it to Kay (Liebl), she looked like she was shot out of a cannon and we had the lead at the first exchange. Kay is just so quick out of the blocks and she does really well leading off. Ariel (Smith) took a great handoff and we were pretty close to being in the lead at the halfway point of the race. Jennie (Young) runs the third turn real well, but with Jennie and Kelly running third and fourth on the relay you have speed handing off to speed, so it was a great race, and I know the girls were well pleased.”

Other noteworthy performances for Ephrata included Jordan Carvell setting her PR in the girls 3200 where she placed 15th with a time of 11:35.74. Also, Erica Voigt hit her PR as well in the triple jump to finish 12th with a jump of 35-0.75.

Other Ephrata athletes who competed at Districts included: Haley Schaller, girls’ 800, 2:26.04; Sydney Morgan, girls’ 1600, 5:18.89; Voigt, 300 hurdles, 49.75; Samantha Weaver, 300 hurdles, 55.00 (fell); Kay Liebl, girls 100, 12.95 (trials), 13.09 (semifinals); Jennie Young, girls 100, 13.19 (trials); Nate Becker, boys’ 3200, 9:47.02; Zach Lefever, boys’ 3200, 9:55.07; girls 4 X 800 relay (Megan Mahlandt, Morgan, Taylor Mahlan.


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