Champs, times two

By on May 8, 2019

EHS boys, girls clinch section titles with wins over Solanco

The members of the Ephrata boys track team celebrate their Section Two championship following their win over Solanco in the season finale Monday afternoon. Photo by Tom Sheaffer 

The members of the Ephrata boys track team celebrate their Section Two championship following their win over Solanco in the season finale Monday afternoon. Photo by Tom Sheaffer

 

While highly-successful individually, the Ephrata boys track team has played second fiddle to the girls in recent years.

Coming into this season, the girls’ program had captured six out of the last seven Section Two titles while the boys hadn’t won a section championship in 30 years.

But it all changed in a big way for the boys this year.

While the girls rolled to another title, clinching the section outright Monday with a 120-30 victory over Solanco, the boys’ squad also earned a banner to call their very own.

In Monday’s boys’ meet, the Mounts dominated from start to finish to earn a 106-44 victory over the Mules. It also gave them the section crown.

Despite finishing in a first-place tie with Lampeter-Strasburg at 6-1, Ephrata earned the title outright based on its 77-73 victory over L-S back on April 17.

“They clearly understood the gravity of the situation and the history of our boys program,” first-year Coach Wayne Hooper said. “The boys were disappointed when they lost to Manheim Central (last week), but when they found out about the head-to-head tie breaker (with L-S), that assuaged their disappointment.”

Monday, the Mounts made it apparent very early they weren’t going to let the opportunity slip away. They dominated in the distances, out-scoring Solanco 27-0. Several others provided key PR performances both on the track and in the field, leaving no doubt a banner would be theirs.

Andrew Foster collected two individual wins, claiming both the 800 (2:02.5) and 3200 (10:48.1). Tyler Shue (400- 50.4) and Ray Truex (1600 – 4:48.1) as well as all three relays also added key distance victories. In the sprints, Logan Usner won the 100 (11.1) while Sam Knowles captured the 200 (23.0).

Freshman Kyle Emrey added wins in both the high hurdles (16.1) and 300 hurdles (43.9) while Ephrata picked up three key wins in the field as Jared Groff won the high jump (5-8), Bryce Babyak claimed the pole vault and senior Zach Werner launched the javelin 150-3 to place first and close out a complete day by the Mounts.

“As a coaching staff, we knew Solanco would come to compete,” Hooper said. “Our kids stepped up in a lot of areas. Our distance crew of Andrew Foster, Tyler Shue, Ray Truex, Jackson Hart, Tanyon Loose, and Nate Kimmel did what they have done all year. Sammy Knowles had two PR performances in the 200 meter dash and the long jump. Zach Werner had a huge PR in the javelin and Logan Usner pulled off a close first-place finish in the 100 meter dash with Stanley Wratto close behind. Add to that Bryce Babyak placing first in the pole vault and the boys did exactly what they needed to do, and then some, to seal the deal.”

While there have been plenty of talented Ephrata boys teams in the past, Hooper was asked why this one was able to be the one to get over the hump and win a section title.

“We made recruiting a priority in the hallways of Ephrata High School this year,” he said. “We encouraged athletes in other fall or winter programs to try track and field for the competition and for the speed, agility, and quickness training that could transfer over to their other sports. A special thanks should go to our Head Football Coach Kris Miller, who encouraged some of his athletes to give track and field a try.

“Recruiting kids in our hallways, the buy-in by other sports programs to promote speed, agility and quickness, and value multi-sport athletes led to us creating quality depth at many positions. Quality depth leads to a very competitive dual-meet track and field team, and that is what our boys were this year. We knew what we were strong in, and we tried to improve the areas where we were weaker. Assistant coaches White and DelPiano spent time the week leading up to dual meets to strategize a plan to garner the most points possible. We asked athletes to move out of their comfort zone at times to help make our team better. The sacrifices made week in and week out helped propel us becoming section champs, and we couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Hooper said winning the section was a goal ever since Emrey, a freshman noticed during a winter workout in the gym that it had been 30 years since the boys won the Section Two title.

“From that day forward, the boys made it a priority to go for it,” Hooper said. “We visited that same banner last week. With a compelling pep talk from Coach White, the boys were dialed in and ready to roll.”

“As a staff, we are so proud of our boys team,” he continued. “Looking around Section Two, there are no easy outs. Time and time again, our boys answered the bell. For a lot of our kids, this is the first time they have been part of a championship team, so it was very exciting to see them celebrate.”

While the boys were bringing the title home, the Ephrata girls completed a perfect 7-0 regular season with Monday’s win to finish ahead of runner-up Lampeter-Strasburg (6-1).

Faith Hershberger, shown here competing in the triple jump, cap-tured two individual events Monday as the Ephrata girls clinched their seventh Section Two crown in eight years. Photo by Tom Sheaffer 

Faith Hershberger, shown here competing in the triple jump, captured two individual events Monday as the Ephrata girls clinched their seventh Section Two crown in eight years. Photo by Tom Sheaffer

 

Led by double winners Ania Johnson and Faith Hershberger, Ephrata athletes captured 16 of the 18 events contested and swept the top three spots in six events to key the win and clinch another crown.

“The girls have consistently been deep on the track and in the field,” Hooper said of the girls’ yearly dominance. “It is amazing to see our girls rise to the occasion year after year. We have been fortunate enough to establish a tradition here at Ephrata. Our girls have developed the attitude of ‘next girl up.’ Each year, we lose some quality senior leadership, and there are always big shoes to fill.

“Before our seniors leave our program, they teach our underclassmen what it takes to be a Section Two champion. We had our seniors choose a junior, sophomore, or freshman to read their senior bio. At the end, the representative was asked to share something that they appreciate about the senior or something they would miss. The lessons of hard work, sacrifice, and putting the interests of the team before yourself, have been passed down from class to class. These very lessons were heard (Monday) during our Senior Night. These young ladies stand on the shoulders of our alumni Ephrata track and field girls teams that have blazed a trail before them. It is exciting to watch the process unfold.”

Johnson captured both the 100 (12.2) and 200 (25.8) sprints while Hershberger leaped to wins in both the long jump (16-3) and triple jump (33-1¼).

Other individuals to post victories for Ephrata on the day included: Talia Sheaffer in the 100 hurdles (16.0); Alyssa Fedorshak in the 1600 (5:48.1); Baileigh Andrews in the 400 (1:04.2); Olivia Fedorshak in the 300 hurdles (50.1); Mary Campbell in the 800 (2:20.3); Alexis Roe in the 3200 (12:37.0); Ciara Barreto in the high jump (5-0); Piper Snow in the pole vault (9-0); and Kandice Liebl in the javelin (124-10).

Ephrata also was 3-for-3 in the relays. The team of Kelly Cummings, Sarah Heberlig, Liz Martin and Ashlyn Mazzocchi took home the 4 x 800 title with a time of 12:18.4. The 4 x 100 team of Annie Slovak, Hershberger, Tamyra Martin and Johnson ran to a winning time of 50.6, and the 4 x 400 squad of Andrews, Olivia Fedorshak, Hershberger and Campbell was victorious with a time of 4:24.5.

With the league dual meet season now complete, the post-season gets underway this Friday and Saturday with the L-L League Meet, hosted by Hempfield.

Action gets underway Friday at 4 p.m. and will resume Saturday at 9 a.m.

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