Becker leads local contingent at States

By on November 5, 2014
Ephrata’s Nate Becker (center) competes during the middle section of Saturday’s State Cross Country Championship held in Hershey. (Photo by Bruce Morgan)

Ephrata’s Nate Becker (center) competes during the middle section of Saturday’s State Cross Country Championship held in Hershey. (Photo by Bruce Morgan)

Back in mid-season, an ankle injury prevented Ephrata junior Nate Becker from going head-to-head with Manheim Township junior Brian Delany, then the lone unbeaten runner in the L-L League.
Saturday at the State Meet held on the Parkview Course in Hershey, after finishing behind Delany at both the L-L League and District Meets, Becker ran with the talented Manheim Township runner before kicking it into high gear down the stretch.
Becker passed Delany with about a mile to go and finished strong to post a time of 16:41, nine seconds faster than his District time a week earlier. That time not only was good for 40th place overall, but was 17 seconds faster than Delany, who finished 66th with a time of 16:57. The lone L-L runner to place higher than Becker was L-L champion Nathan Henderson of McCaskey, who was 13th overall in a time of 16:11.
Becker’s performance highlighted a local group of five runners representing Ephrata.
Joining him in the boys’ race was sophomore Zach Lefever, who posted a time of 17:13 to finish 105th overall. On the girls’ side, Ephrata was led by junior Taylor Mahlandt, who placed 107th with a time of 20:18. Junior Jordan Carvell was right behind her in the 109th position (20:18) while senior Andrea Castillo placed 112th overall with a time of 20:21.
“The Ephrata runners performed very well,” Ephrata Coach Mike Hershberger said. “Nate Becker was the second fastest boy in the Lancaster-Lebanon League in the race, and Zach was the seventh fastest Lancaster-Lebanon League runner. For the girls, Taylor Mahlandt, Jordan Carvell, and Andrea Castillo were the 4th, 5th and 7th fastest L-L girls in the race.
“A complaint from many teams in our district is that the District course is difficult, and the runners do not have time to recover from the District race in time for the State race. The Ephrata runners had a great attitude. They were all relaxed and were focused on their game plan for the race. Nate was able to start quickly, Zach was able to work his way through the pack, and the three girls were able to work together to finish well.”
Becker’s feat was especially satisfying to Hershberger, who has seen steady improvement from his top male runner since his freshman season.
“Nate is an exceptional leader and runner,” Hershberger said. “It is rare to have an athlete who excels at both of those qualities. Nate has worked hard during his high school cross country career. As a freshman, his average time for the season was 19:44. Even then, he would push his limits to the point of not being able to walk after a race. Nate worked hard in the off-season and encouraged all of his teammates to do the same. In two years, Nate’s average time for the season dropped from 19:44 to 17:10. Nate improved all season.”
Speaking of improving all season, Cocalico’s lone runner at States, Jamie Zamrin, closed out her outstanding freshman season with an 85th place finish, crossing the line in 20:06.
She was the third L-L League finisher behind Hempfield’s Brianna Thomas (33rd) and McCaskey freshman Isabella Fife (37th).
“I thought Jamie had a sensational race,” Cocalico Coach Ron Derr. “It is not an easy manner from running psychology to deal with a very challenging course twice in a short period of time as well as all mental issues that come with the privilege of being able to compete a the State meet. There is no other meet like it in terms of the number of great quality runners. In the final few minutes prior to the race I could see the nerves were starting to effect her just a bit, but I thought she needs to go through them and learn.
“Once the gun sounded and the race began I believe she was able to relax, keep her poise and then just do what she had to do to get there. Jaimie did a fantastic job of maintaining her poise and running smart in the early portion of the race, and then finishing the race with a great deal of heart and determination. Even thought her time was a few seconds slower than Districts I believe the State course to be tougher with the addition of the final extra hill the runners must climb after running behind the sewer treatment area, so she truly ran her best race of the year, at the biggest stage of the year. As a coach you couldn’t ask for more and we couldn’t be more proud of Jamie’s accomplishments.”
For the season, Zamrin finished in 12th place at the L-L Meet, was 13th in the District before Saturday’s 85th position.
Derr was asked to sum up Zamrin’s freshman season.
“Absolutely fantastic,” he said. “Every race Jaime competed in she ran as our number one runner and finished tied for 7th in points per meet, She won two league races, placed second at the Lebanon Valley Invitational, 12th at Leagues, 13th at Districts, and qualified and ran her best race of the year at States. As a runner she was fantastic and worked hard to use some great God given ability she has. She is also very well liked by her teammates. When Jamie qualified for States we asked for volunteers to train with her so it wouldn’t just be Jamie and couple 40-plus year old coaches. We had anywhere from three to six teammates show up to help her with her final training which is a great statement about our kids, but also about Jamie. She was seen as being the representative from Cocalico and others wanted to help do the best she possibly could at doing that.”
Brianna Schwartz of Shaler High School captured the gold medal in the girls’ race Saturday, finishing in a winning time of 17:39. Olivia Sargent of Pennsbury was second (17:48) while Madeleine Davison of North Allegheny placed third (17:57).
On the boys’ side, Jake Brophy of Central Bucks East took first place with a winning time of 15:24. Cardinal O’Hara’s Kevin James was second (15:38) while Andrew Marston of Conestoga finished third (15:40).
A total of 239 runners competed in the boys AAA race while 225 runners finished in the girls competition.

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