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Track athletes look to make a run at leagues
TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
, Staff Writer
Track and field’s second season is upon us, begin this Friday and Saturday with the always entertaining L-L League Meet held at Hempfield High School.
Action begins with Session One Friday at 4 p.m. with several sprint trials and a few field events on tap as well as the finals for the 3200. The meet then continues Saturday morning at 10 a.m. and will run straight through until the final scheduled event which is the boys 4 X 400 relay finals at 2:30 p.m.
The post-season, according to Cocalico Coach Ron Derr, is a time for the cream to rise to the top. Expect nothing less this year, starting this weekend.
"The post season is such a great time of year to really see the kids push past the performances they have already achieved and fight to keep their season going one more week," Derr said Tuesday. "Our league, the Lancaster-Lebanon League, is a league of very high quality and many of the kids competing this weekend should have opportunities to compete the next several weekends (at Districts and States). In addition to striving for those really special performances I always hope that the kids learn to enjoy the moment and the special opportunity to compete. Most teams are really stripped down at this point, so it is the very best of the very best in our league competing against each other."
It doesn’t get any better than that. And this year, both Cocalico and Ephrata have a stable-full of horses who have legitimate shots to capture L-L gold.
At Cocalico, it starts with the throwers. Freshman Emily Stauffer, who this past week set the CHS school record with a throw of 43-10 in the shot put, will be looking to win her first L-L medal in her initial post-season run. Her school record throw has earned her top billing in that event, some three-plus inches farther than second seeded Sunflower Greene of Conestoga Valley (40-2 1/2).
The boys’ javelin figures to be a two-man race between Manheim Central’s Cole Proffitt (205-11) and Cocalico’s Jhett Janis (204-6), the lone throwers in the league to reach the 200 mark this season.
"It’s always exciting to know an athlete has a very legitimate opportunity to earn a gold medal in our league," Derr said when asked about the prospects for Stauffer and Janis this weekend. "As I stated earlier I truly believe our league is among the better ones in the state. I stressed to the team yesterday that they should all be very proud to have earned the opportunity to compete this weekend, but hope they are not satisfied with what they have previously accomplished. The competition should be tremendous this weekend so they will need their ‘A games’ to perform well."
The Ephrata girls, who clinched their second-straight Section Two title this past week, should bring a lot to the table, and if things go their way they could challenge pre-meet favorite Hempfield for the team title.
"I can point to several events that I feel are must events for our girls to have a chance to win the meet," Ephrata Coach John Keller said Tuesday. "While this is the time of year we tend to focus on the individual or relay events, I reminded the girls of the goals we set before the season started. I told them we must remain hungry as a team and go out and fight to win another track meet as a team. I told them we need to come out with a lot of energy and focus. Each girl realizes her responsibility, and we must trust in one another, execute to perfection and really just come out very aggressive and be the ones to go after it. Our three relays had their best races of the season this past Saturday (at the Blue Streak Relays), and I feel that gave them a lot of confidence. So more than picking out events, I just want to see the total team effort, and go after this thing event by event."
Certainly senior Mary Witmer is expected to do her part. A year ago, she not only walked away with a pair of L-L golds and a silver, but also broke a 25-year meet record in the triple jump.
Witmer, who won a State silver medal in the 300 hurdles a year ago, is ranked first in that event with a time of 43.39, and is second in both the high hurdles (14.9) and triple jump (36-3 3/4).
Keller said she is ready to go.
"Mary is on a mission and is head strong on a collision course with the State Meet," Keller said. "However she knows what is at stake here at the league meet this weekend and would like nothing more than to lead this team to a win. She is very confident in her abilities and has been running very well. I have trained Mary for four years, and I feel she is better conditioned this year as in any previous. Make no doubt, Mary will perform at a high level…this is important to her and she will definitely be the catalyst that will help motivate the girls team."
Ephrata’s Kelly Liebl and Crystal Hartman also are expected to challenge in several events. Liebl, a sophomore sprinter/jumper, took home four L-L medals a year ago while Hartman, a junior throwers, was fourth in the javelin.
"Kelly has quietly slipped into the number one ranking in the long jump this spring while no one was watching, so to speak," Keller stated. "Coach (Matt) White has done an outstanding job with all the jumpers and what a huge turn of events that could be in that event. Plus, Kelly is a gamer… it just seems like when something is on the line she rises to the occasion. Crystal also knows what is expected and how important she is to this team’s success. She has been all over the javelin this spring and that has been her most consistent event. The potential is there in the discus, it just has not come full circle yet this season. We’re hoping for the trifecta. She has it in her to place in all three events, again, she will just have to focus on one event at a time."
Keller also mentioned all three girls’ relays as having legitimate chances to win, the top-seeded 4 X 400 relay in particular. And Erica Voigt is seeded third in the triple jump, right behind Witmer.
As far as other Cocalico athletes to watch, Derr said his girls 4 X 100 relay has continued to progress throughout the season and could challenge for a top medal. He also expects Ashley Strenko, who medaled in three events a year ago, as well as boys jumper Shea Evans and thrower Rebecca Grube, to be among potential favorites in their respective events.
More LEAGUES, page B-4