Two for the record books Ephrata’s Witmer breaks 25-year mark in triple jump Felpel claims L-L record in shot put

By on May 16, 2012

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

1987.

It was a year in which the Chevrolet Caprice was the most expensive selling US auto ($12,510), the average cost of a new house was $92,000, and a gallon of gas would set you back only 89 cents.

It was also the year Leslie Hummer of Annville-Cleona hopped, skipped and jumped her way to a new L-L League Meet record of 37-10 in the triple jump.

That record had stood for 25 years, but this past Friday at the League Meet held at Hempfield High School, Ephrata’s Mary Witmer was the one to finally eclipse that mark.

The junior etched her own name in the L-L record books with a leap of 37-11 1/4 to win the gold.

"I knew I was going to be close to it but I had no idea I could have broken that record," Witmer said of her feat. "I didn’t know I was going to jump that far. I wasn’t really thinking about the record to be honest. I thought if I could just win the event would be good enough for me. But breaking the record is just awesome."

"Breaking this record is quite an honor," added Ephrata jumping coach Matt White. "When you think about it, the old record has stood for a quarter of a century. As her coach, even I stand back and say, ‘Wow!’ I never mention numbers to Mary. At this point in the season, we shoot for ‘quality jumps.’ But I would be lying if I told you that breaking the record was not in the back of my mind. I believe that she is peaking at just the right time in the triple jump. Mary is focused for what I hope is an excellent post-season."

Witmer followed up Friday’s performance with an equally-impressive day Saturday. She won a second individual gold in the 300 hurdles (44.66) and added a silver in the high hurdles (14.96). She broke EHS records in all three events and then later was part of the victorious 4X400 girls relay from Ephrata, which also captured gold.

"She is just a phenomenal athlete," Ephrata Coach John Keller said. "Eventhough I stand back and watch her every day, I am still amazed at some of the things she has been pulling off. But the girl works for it, she has a great work ethic at practice and is eager to set her standards higher. She would just as soon PR as set a record…That’s the kind of girl she is."

Ephrata, as a team, had a pretty successful weekend, grabbing a total of 10 medals through the two-day meet. The EHS girls went on to finish second in the team standings with 63 points and trailed only Hempfield, which won the title with 80 points. The Mountaineer boys placed 18th overall.

"We had 17 personal records at the L-L Meet, and that is all that you can ask of any of your athletes," Keller said. "You want to be peaking this time of year and at these championship meets, so from that standpoint we had a very successful weekend."

"I was proud of all our athletes and the girls team for the second place finish," he continued. "We had a very nice meet and it is my hopes that it can carry over into the District Three meet next weekend at Shippensburg."

After falling just short in the high hurdles, losing her anticipated head-to-head duel with CV’s Kristen Bass (14.86), Witmer responded with a near record in the 300 hurdles. Her time of 44.66 was just behind the record of 44.30 as she captured the gold nearly two seconds ahead of second-place finisher Hannah Williams of Garden Spot (46.35).

"I’m very happy with the 300 meter hurdle performance and her time," Ephrata hurdler coach Todd Ream stated. "That is an outstanding time in that event and one of the top two or three in the state this spring. Mary has come a long way in her hurdle form and the timing it takes in between the hurdles. When she can run that race somewhat rested, as she can in these bigger meets because she does not run the open 400, look out."

In the 4 X 400 relay, Keller moved freshman Kelly Liebl to the lead-off position, who then handed off to Witmer. Those two built a nice lead for closers Erica Voigt and Andrea Castillo, who coasted in with a time of 4:04.63 to capture the gold medal.

"Both (Liebl and Witmer) did what I asked of them and what I expected and it worked to perfection," Keller explained his decision to start with Liebl and Witmer. "All Erica and Andrea had to do was coast the final two laps for the win. That was my first 4 X 400 win as a coach and also the fastest time we had ever run at the league meet so I was very well pleased with the outcome and that it worked as I planned. This will be the fifth time in six years that we will be going to Districts in the 4 X 4. It is an event that I coach, so it has some special meaning to me."

In other action, the Ephrata girls’ 3200 relay team of Castillo, Vanessa Hurst, Sondra MacNeal and Nicole Wilkerson brought home silver in a season best time of 9:48.61. And Liebl was a winner of four medals in her first L-L Meet. Along with the gold she won in the 4 X 400 relay, Liebl took third place in the 200 (25.71), fifth in the 100 (12.52), and anchored the fourth place finish of the 4 X 100 relay (51.48) along with Abby Binkley, Yasi Davis and Natalie Flaim.

Senior shot putter Danny Matos claimed a bronze medal with a throw of 44-6 3/4, while Crystal Hartman added a fourth-place medal in the javelin with a throw of 114-1, and Yasi Davis took sixth place in the 300 hurdles behind Witmer, coming in at 48.33. It was suppose to be a weekend of head-to-head duels for Cocalico’s Kyle Felpel. And while only one of them actually materialized, Felpel still managed to make his mark in the final L-L League Meet for the talented Eagle senior.

Saturday morning in the boys’ shot put, Felpel watched as his biggest challenger Hempfield’s Kyle Long, fouled on all three attempts. Despite not having the competitive push from Long, Felpel still heaved the shot 60-1 1/2 to not only win the gold but break the L-L Meet record of 59-5 1/4 set back in 2001 by Annville-Cleona great Jeremy Silverman.

"It’s great having (Long) up there to push me so it was kind of a shame to see him foul out," Felpel said. That was unfortunate but to beat Jeremy Silverman’s record is a nice accomplishment. Jeremy was a good thrower who went to UCLA so it’s nice having the record and having my name up there for a few years hopefully."

"I ‘ve been throwing 60s pretty consistently. I was hoping with more competition to get a little better throw. I was pretty confident if I do what I do with good technique and everything and just go after it I would get it. I had to just stay focused and go after it, and that’s what I did."

The championship was the third in shot put in the last four years for the University of Alabama-bound Felpel, who owns the top throw in the State this year at 63-3.

"Kyle has been making it tougher and tougher to keep coming up with the proper explanations of his accomplishments," Cocalico Coach Ron Derr said. "To be able to win the league championship three out of his four years competing, and to finish it by breaking the league record is just outstanding. The slightly uphill grade on the throwing sector makes Hempfield a challenging place to throw but Kyle has always possessed a very quiet, yet extremely strong determination to compete and perform at a high level."

A tweaked back forced Felpel to bow out of his anticipated match-up Friday night with Manheim Central’s Cole Proffitt. But after winning the shot, Felpel and Long went at it in the discus where they are among the top performers in the State in that event.

Long, who holds the top mark in the State this year with a throw of 204-8, broke his own meet record with a throw of 193-9 to down Felpel for the gold. Felpel took the silver with a throw of 161-9.

"Overall my back is OK," Felpel said when asked about his injury. "It kind of hurt to start. We put some cream on it and after awhile that kicked in and I didn’t really feel it as much. Javelin it hurts more because of the shock coming up, you are twisting… The shot and discus isn’t as much of a problem."

Felpel should be ready to go for the District Meet to be held this weekend at Shippensburg.

The Cocalico boys as a team performed very well, finishing in sixth place with 32 points.

Individually for the boys, in addition to Felpel, Ben Graybill won a silver medal in the boys’ pole vault with a vault of 13-0. and Shea Evans continued his hot season with a bronze medal in the high jump, lifting off to 6-0.

"Shea has been a tremendously consistent high jumper for us all year," Derr said of Evans. "This year with (CV’s Robbie) Cardina and (Garden Spot’s Max) Mahan seeded and capable of jumping so very high, it made third place the best goal for a large field of jumpers. Avoiding misses at lower heights were very important and Shea did a great job of staying clean through the lower heights and then just missed a terrific attempt of 6-2.

"Ben has also consistently been right around the 13-0 mark most of the year and he also look like he is really putting things together at the right time. One of the challenges I think that is often overlooked with pole vaulters is the amount of down time they have at the event before the top seeds actually begin competing. Ben had to stay focused and prepped for several hours before he actually got to his vaults. I was extremely proud of how well he performed."

On the girls’ side, Ashley Strenko was the top performer for the Lady Eagles, winning medals in all three events in which she competed. Strenko took a silver medal in the long jump with a leap of 16-8, just an inch behind gold medal winner Bridget Neslund of Manheim Township (16-9). Strenko also tied for fifth with Brittany Lewis of Annville-Cleona in the high jump (5-0), and grabbed sixth in the high hurdles with a time of 16.45.

" It is a very exciting aspect of coaching track to see one of your athletes really get on a role at one of the big meets," Derr said. "That was the case for Ashley on Saturday. She competed in three different events and just continued to raise her performance level from event to event. She ran a personal best time of 16.45 in the 100 hurdles while competing in the high jump where she reached a seasonal best jump of 5-0. And then to finish if off with a personal best long jump of 16-8 just made for a fantastic day."

The final medal of the day for Cocalico came in the girls 4 X 100 relay where the Lady Eagle team of Carrie Sensenig, Gina Glass, Emily Johnson and Nicole Swisher posted a time of 51.66 to earn sixth place.

The District Three Meet will be up next for the Cocalico athletes. Action begins Friday at noon and continues Saturday at 9 a.m. at Shippensburg University. More FELPEL, page B-5 More WITMER, page B-5

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