EHS boys, girls take three of four

By on September 16, 2015

 

Ephrata’s Zach Lefever (right) and Nate Becker turn a corner during Tuesday’s race. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Ephrata’s Zach Lefever (right) and Nate Becker turn a corner during Tuesday’s race. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Ephrata cross country Coach Mike Hershberger had a prediction before Tuesday afternoon’s five-team meet at the Ephrata Middle School.

“Penn Manor will be the competition for our boys. Donegal will be the competition for our girls,” he predicted.

As it turned out, Hershberger was a profit as the girls and the boys each won three out of four match-ups, the two losses as predicted. The Donegal girls and Penn Manor boys were each 4-0 against the field that also included Northern Lebanon and Lancaster Mennonite.

The performance of the afternoon came in the boy’s race when Mounts junior Zach Lefever crossed the finish line in 16:18, a scant one second off the course record set in 2005 by Manheim Township’s Craig Miller, who is now a professional runner. Ephrata senior Nate Becker set a personal best of 16:32 in coming in second overall.

“It is a goal of mine, to set the course record,” said Lefever, after the run. “The first mile was really slow, but I picked it up from that point. I usually like to go out quickly and then maintain. I prefer to run when it gets cooler.”

Rounding out the top five for the Ephrata boys were senior Rhett Hart (sixth, at 17:18), Philip Wenger (13th, at 18:58) and Dayne Wetzel (14th, 19:04). Despite having the top two and five of the top 14, Ephrata was out-pointed by the Comets 27-32. The Mounts bested Lancaster Mennonite 17-45, Donegal 17-49 and Northern Lebanon 15-52.

The Ephrata boys’ record now stands at 6-1, with four regular season runs to go before the L-L League Meet on October 20th back home at the Ephrata Middle School.

“We still hope to win the League Meet, the District Three Team Meet and make it to States as a team,” said Becker.

And Lefever has the formula to do just that.

“We have a strong top three,” he said. “We just have to pull up numbers four through six to get there.”

Last year was a big jump for the boys, moving from five wins to 19, but Hershberger believes there is even more room for growth.

“It’s very unusual to have improvement for two-straight years, especially for boys,” he said. “Boys are typically more gradual, but they believe in themselves.”

The top three impressed on a regional stage in Kutztown last Saturday, as Lefever (fifth), Becker (15th) and Hart (18th) all medaled, while no other team had three medalists. The Mounts take to the site of the District Three Run (Big Spring) this Saturday morning with an opportunity to impress a statewide audience.

Lefever and Becker have finished one-two in the two league runs this fall and have now run together for three years.

“He took me under his wing when I was a freshman,” related Lefever of Becker. “Sometimes we’ll switch off during the race to pace each other.”

“It’s so important that we got to run together,” added Becker. “Without each other, we wouldn’t have a winning team because we push each other.”

On the girls’ side Tuesday, junior Haley Schaller led the way for the Lady Mounts by finishing fourth in 21:13, not quite a minute off the pace set by Penn Manor’s Lindsey Lord (20:26).

Though not a personal best, Schaller and her mates out-pointed Penn Manor (22-42), Lancaster Mennonite (18-46) and Northern Lebanon (15-55) despite falling to Donegal (25-30).

The remainder of the top five included sophomore Nadine Eichenlaub (fifth, 21:20), senior Taylor Mahlandt (eighth, 21:32), senior Jordan Carvell (11th, 22:18) and sophomore Sydney Morgan (12th, 23:00).

“The girls (5-2) are about the same as they were the last two years,” said Hershberger, reflecting on third-place finishes in the League Meet the past two years. “If they each improve a little, they will be right there with Manheim Township, Hempfield and Donegal. The ‘pack mentality is’ still intact.”

Schaller also shares her coach’s ambitious goals.

“Individually, I’m hoping to get to States, and I’d like to see the team get that far too,” she said. “Since we were freshmen, we’ve had the same goals and worked hard to achieve them.”

Much of that work took place in the off season and over the summer, she explained.

“We had optional practices three times every week and had a lot showed up,” said Schaller. “The summer runs gave us an opportunity to bond while building a base.”

Up next, on the league schedule is a multi-team meet next Tuesday at Cocalico, where the girls will face the Eagles’ highly-touted Jamie Zamrin. The following week, the bus goes to Cedar Crest, then Solanco and McCaskey before the League Meet.

As for Cocalico, the Eagles competed in a five-team meet Monday afternoon at Lancaster Catholic.

In girls’ action, the Lady Eagles went 0-4 on the day, losing to Manheim Township (20-47), L-S (20-47), Warwick (24-37) and the host Crusaders (22-37). However, the big story came from Zamrin, who set the pace to finish with a time of 20:26 to claim first place overall, 11 seconds faster than Sam Shields of Warwick (20:37).

On the boys’ side, Cocalico went 3-1 on the day, falling to Manheim Township, 27-30 for their first loss of the season. The Eagles out-pointed L-S (23-33), Warwick (25-32) and Lancaster Catholic (22-33).

Individually, Evan Kreider (17:22) finished just five seconds off the pace to finish second and lead the Eagles. Kenny Wallace was fourth overall with a time of 18:17, while Evan Trowbridge (6th, 18:37) and Dylan Becker (17th, 19:25) all were top 20 performers.

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