EHS girls down Cocalico to claim fourth-straight section title

By on May 6, 2015


 Ephrata’s Kay Liebl soars over the bar to set the school record in the pole vault Monday vs. Cocalico. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Ephrata’s Kay Liebl soars over the bar to set the school record in the pole vault Monday vs. Cocalico. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

The Ephrata girls seem to come at you in waves.

If one key member goes down, as was the case Monday when senior star Kelly Liebl re-aggravated a hamstring injury, another steps up with a big performance.

That depth is what was the key to Ephrata’s 92-58 win over Cocalico Tuesday, and it is what fueled the team’s run to a fourth-straight Section Two championship with its victory over the previously unbeaten Lady Eagles.

“Ultimately our depth came out,” Ephrata Coach John Keller said of the win.

Cocalico (6-1 section, 7-1 overall) certainly made it interesting early as Stephanie Wahl (15.4) and Cassie Bean (16.6) went one-two in the high hurdles before standout freshman Jamie Zamrin (5:13.9) won her head-to-head duel with fellow ninth grader Sydney Morgan (5:14.6) of Ephrata in a tight 1600.

But Ephrata (7-0, 8-0) out-scored the Lady Eagles on the track 47-8 the rest of the way to put it away prior to the final field totals came in.

“Early on some field results were coming in and even on the track we were holding even with Ephrata,” Cocalico Coach Ron Derr said. “They are so strong on the track, but we were holding our own for a little while. Again, they have a lot of depth and their lineup was really set for that. I was kind of anticipating an early onslaught and all of a sudden I’m looking and I’m seeing fresh bodies continuing to come out on the track. I saw some tired looks on our girls but we kept working and tried but didn’t quite have enough to go all the way out and get the 75 (points) that we needed.”

The win was Ephrata’s 31st-straight dual meet victory and completed the mission of seniors Erica Voigt, Madison Fox and Kelly Liebl to have never lost a track meet.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Liebl said afterward. “It was our goal since the beginning of the season. We didn’t want to be the ones to let up the streak so we’re glad we could keep it going and go out with four-straight section titles.”

“Those three seniors have never lost a track meet,” Keller added. “It’s confidence… the girls are confident in themselves. We have a really good winter program, and that helps. And certainly they believe that no one is going to beat them.”

“I’m pretty proud of the team,” he continued. “Cocalico was a huge challenge and we knew that going in. We knew we were up against it but ultimately, our girls stepped up. Even with Kelly going down in the 100, we rose to the occasion and I couldn’t be any happier. They worked their tails off all season and I certainly couldn’t be any more proud.”

The one downer on the day for Ephrata was the Liebl injury, which occurred in the final stages of what turned out to be a record-breaking 100 meter dash. Liebl, who first injured her hamstring at the Hempfield Invitational on April 11, was coming down the stretch when she felt it go.

“Definitely the last quarter of the race I started to feel it,” she said. “It was better than at Hempfield when I first hurt it. I felt it there as soon as I came out of the blocks. I only started feeling it more towards the end today so it was better than trying to run the whole race with it.”

Even with the injury, amazingly, Liebl broke a long-standing school record in the 100, crossing the line in a new record time of 11.9. She broke the former standard of 12.0 set by Sheila Mellinger back in 1979.

“I didn’t even know that happen so it makes me feel a lot better about what happened today,” she said. “But it’s still just hard and really frustrating. My fastest races I’ve run I’ve injured myself this season so it’s just really frustrating that I can push myself and get these times and my body just hasn’t been able to handle it. It sure was very up and down for me today but overall very up and a very good feeling to win the section. A good day overall I guess.”

One of the other highlights of the day for Ephrata came at the conclusion of the meet when all eyes were focused on the pole vault pit where Liebl’s younger sister Kay was reaching new heights.

The younger Liebl first shot over the bar at 9-feet, 2-inches, and then later eclipsed the 9-5 mark for a new school record, much to the delight of her teammates and the large crowd that had gathered to watch.

“Once I actually broke the record I was wondering if I had to still keep going,” Kay said. “I was so full of excitement and I was cutting it close. I liked the challenge so it was nice to keep going.”

And she didn’t mind doing it in front of the large crowd.

“I’m not used to it but I mean I just tried to block everything out and just worry about myself.”

“What Kay did there was phenomenal,” Keller said. “To go 9-5 in the pole vault, and to think this girl only does this eight, 10, 12 weeks of the year…it’s pretty amazing. To see her pull that off in the pole vault, that was special. Kay has stepped up this year, big time.”

Other Ephrata highlights included a pair of individual wins by freshman Megan Mahlandt in the 400 (1:02.4) and 800 (2:28.); Ariel Smith’s win in the 200 (27.4); and Jordan Carvell outlasting all runners in the 3200 (12:05.0. Incidentally, Ephrata runners finished one-two-three in both of those latter two events.

The Lady Mounts also claimed all three relay wins to close out a big day on the track.

In the field, where Cocalico held the advantage, three Ephrata athletes captured victories, including Liebl’s record-setting win in the pole vault. Voigt (33-5) edged Cocalico’s Megan Gingrich (33-4½) in the triple jump while Smith earned her second victory of the day with a leap of 4-8 in the high jump.

As for Cocalico, Wahl, in addition to her win in the high hurdles, broke her own school record in the long jump with a winning leap of 17-6¼. Emily Stauffer captured both the shot put (45-8½) and discus (117-5) while freshman Mackenzie Hainley continued her big season with a victory in the javelin (115-6).

“I’m proud as can be with our girls,” Derr said. “I think we laid it out and competed as they were trying for a section championship. Their efforts showed that today. Their preparation, excitement and support for one another and the way they competed with their performances…I’m thrilled with the way the day went. You never want to lose…you’d like to win a championship, but as a coach I have to be proud. They put their hearts into it and there is nothing more I can ask of them.”

Keller offered kudos to the Lady Eagles.

“Hats off to Cocalico,” he said. “I appreciate them and what they do over there. They got a good program. We knew coming in, they have Zamrin, (Stauffer) and a few others…I knew we were up against it. But the girls responded.”

In the boys’ meet, as was on the girls’ side, Ephrata dominated on the track on its way to an 81-69 victory.

Nate Becker (1600, 4:36.7), Chris Hershberger (400, 52.7), Peneal Wolde (800, 2:08.3), and Rhett Hart (3200, 11:51.6) all won single events on the track while the Mounts swept all three relays to key the win.

“Our boys team didn’t win a meet last year and went 4-2-1 this year in the section,” Keller said. “I’m very proud of them too. They’ve come a long way. And today, they put it together too and won a good track meet.”

Ephrata did so in spite of Cocalico’s domination in the field where the Eagles won six of the seven events, and a four-win day by Eagle sophomore Demetri Whitsett.

Whitsett set PRs in all four events, winning the high hurdles (16.4), 300 hurdles (43.4), high jump (6-0) and long jump (20-9).

In addition to his two field event wins, Cocalico’s Stewart Martin won both the discus (136-1) and javelin (155-6) while Abdul Saad claimed the shot (46-1) and Cameron Steffy earned a victory in the pole vault (11-7).

Cocalico’s Arion Dominique (100, 11.3) and Ephrata’s Mark Njenga (triple jump, 39-11¼) rounded out the day’s winners on the boys’ side.

The Eagles finished the section season at 1-6 in league play (1-7 overall).

This past Saturday, both Cocalico and Ephrata competed at the annual Blue Streak Relays held at Manheim Township High School.

The Ephrata girls team won three total events and set a couple records on their way to a third-place finish (58 points) behind only Palmyra (97) and Hempfield (89).

The girls 4X1600 relay team of Carvell, Taylor Mahlandt, Haley Schaller and Morgan established a new meet record of 21:41.6 to capture first place in that event. The sister tandem of Kay and Kelly Liebl also set a new meet mark in the long jump, winning the event with a combined leap of 33-6½. Kelly Liebl also set a new stadium record in that event with a jump of 17-8.

The final win of the day for the Lady Mounts came in the sprint medley relay as Kay Liebl, Smith, Jennie Young and Kelly Liebl combined for a winning time of 1:48.8.

The remaining place winners for the Ephrata girls included: shuttle hurdle relay (Samantha Weaver, Jennie Young, Amanda Hauser, Voigt), 2nd, 1:10.3; 4X400 meter relay (Weaver, Young, Hauser, Voigt), 3rd, 4:10.2; triple jump (Voigt, Hauser), 4th, 61-6; and pole vault (Kay Liebl, Katelyn Young), 3rd, 17-0.

The Ephrata boys won two events on the day as the Mounts finished sixth in the team standings with 36 points.

The 4X1600 meter relay squad of AJ Morales, Becker, Zach Lefever and Hart took the title with a time of 18:47.2. And the 3200 meter relay team of Wolde, Becker, Hershberger and Dayne Wetzel also claimed gold with a winning time of 8:15.1.

The Ephrata boys also placed in the shot put competition as the team of Andrew Wagner and Wes Morgan took third overall, and took sixth place in the third place in the 4X100 meter relay (Sam Anyona, Travis Trautman, Njenga and Charlie Warden).

The Cocalico girls earned a pair of medals on the day, both in field events. In the shot put, Stauffer and Fahtima Saad took second place with a combined throw of 66-4. And in the discus, Stauffer teamed with Olivia Fassnacht to place third with a combined throw of 200-11.

For the Cocalico boys, Dominique and Whitsett led the way for the Eagles with a second place finish in the long jump. That tandem combined for a leap of 39-10½.

The throwing duo of Brad Heck and Martin claimed fourth place overall in the javelin with a combined throw of 267-3. Martin and Brady Maxwell also finished fifth in the shot with a combined distance of 77-8¼.

Finally, the shuttle hurdle relay squad from Cocalico (Whitsett, Taylor Martin, Bryan Buckwalter and Jake Renninger) also placed fifth with a time of 1:10.9).

Up next, both Ephrata and Cocalico will gear up for the L-L League Meet, which will be held Friday (4 p.m.) and Saturday (8 a.m.) at Hempfield.


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