Zamrin Claims Cocalico’s First District CC Title

By on November 2, 2016
Cocalico’s Jamie Zamrin runs down the stretch of the District Three Championships Saturday at Big Spring. Photo by Matt Liphart

Cocalico’s Jamie Zamrin runs down the stretch of the District Three Championships Saturday at Big Spring. Photo by Matt Liphart

Lefever wins District bronze for Ephrata

Cocalico’s Jamie Zamrin and Ephrata’s Zach Lefever hadn’t completely caught their breath yet.

Sweat still streaked down their faces near the finish line at the District Three Triple-A Championships.

But it was a price they were willing to pay.

Particularly for the results they got.

Zamrin, a junior, captured Cocalico’s first-ever District cross country championship last Saturday at Big Spring High School in Newville, overtaking long-time rivals Alison Willingmyre, of Wilson, and Abby Yourkavitch, of Chambersburg, in the final mile to win in 18:15 in the girls race.

“I’m extremely happy and I’m really happy to do this for my school,” Zamrin said. “It’s such a small school and I’m really happy to bring this (gold) back and show everyone, like, ‘This is what we’re made of. This is what we can do.’”

Lefever showed some grit of his own, giving McCaskey’s Nathan Henderson all he could handle on his way to a strong third-place finish in 15:37 in the boys race.

Carlisle’s Noah Affolder took the District gold in 15:17, then Henderson earned silver in 15:33, just four seconds ahead of the Mounts’ senior.

“I knew I had (Noah) Affolder and Henderson, who are both ridiculous runners,” Lefever said, “and the longer I could stay with them, the better chance I had. And then I was really trying to fight off the younger Affolder brother (Sam, who finished fourth in 15:47). I started gapping him maybe toward the two-mile mark. So I’m happy with my race. I finished behind two incredible runners, so it was good.”

The top 20 finishers earned medals, and both Zamrin and Lefever, in addition to Ephrata girls Nadine Eichenlaub (29th in 19:53) and Mary Campbell (33rd in 20:05) qualified for States, to be held this Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Parkview Course in Hershey. The Ephrata girls were just two spots away from qualifying for States as a team, taking sixth overall with 226 points.

“What I’m really going for (at States) is top three again,” Lefever said. “I’d like to see it like this, exactly how it finished today, or maybe me in front of one of them, depending on the day because I like working the uphills and Hershey’s a very hilly course. So I think that favors me more.”

What favors Zamrin is her kick at the end of races. Until that point on Saturday, however, she was just trying to keep the leaders within reach. And that was easier said than done in the first half-mile of the race, when the runners turned a corner into a cruel headwind.

“It was right in your face,” Zamrin said. “I was trying to stay behind Willingmyre, Yourkavitch and (Hershey’s Andie) Demko, and when I was doing that, I realized it wasn’t helping. The wind was just killer in the beginning. So that was a little nerve-wracking.”

Fortunately for Zamrin, the wind wasn’t as bad when they reached the wooded section of the course. But Yourkavitch, Willingmyre and Demko, known for their stamina, had built a 10 to 15-meter lead over the Lady Eagles’ runner.

Zamrin, admittedly, was concerned.

“Going up Kill Hill, they had such a big gap on me and I was pretty terrified,” Zamrin said. “I was like, ‘You know, fourth place isn’t that bad.’ Then coming out of the hill, I felt pretty strong.”

Cocalico Ron Derr, in fact, was encouraged when he saw Zamrin starting to make her move.

“(Jamie) started to gradually creep up on them,” Derr said. “It was close to the two and a half mile point is where I’d say she really started to accelerate.’

Eventually, she passed the leaders, and although Yourkavitch remained close on her heels as they approached the finish, Zamrin never wavered while holding off the Lady Trojan runner by five seconds. Yourkavitch finished in 18:20.

“I totally knew she was right there,” Zamrin said, “because probably around, like, 400 meters to go is when I passed her. Everyone was just screaming and (Yourkavitch) is not one to give up. She’s a very strong competitor. So I knew she was right on my toes and I couldn’t back down on my sprint the entire last 200 meters.”

It marked the first time in her career that Zamrin has defeated Yourkavitch and Willingmyre.

“To finally beat both of them at the same race, I can’t believe I just did that,” said Zamrin, who ran a time of 18:38 at the Big Spring Invitational in September. “This season, I’ve been drastically improving pretty much every big meet that I’ve had, so I was kinda coming into this race like, ‘You know, I could beat Yourkavitch, I could beat Willingmyre.’ I didn’t think I had a chance at Willingmyre, but apparently I did.”

Derr credited Zamrin’s added strength this season as a big factor in her success.

“As a coach, I don’t think you could design any more of just a perfect race,” he said. “Her strength has come such a long way that I thought if she could stay close to the leaders, she can get in that last stretch and really let it go and that’s exactly (what happened). She kept herself in striking distance and was driving like only she can at the end of a race.”

Lefever was within striking distance most of the way too. Considering the first-mile pace of 5:21 was a little slower than he expected, the leaders were bunched early in the race.

“For contending in the race, I’d like to see it more at like a 4:52ish … in between 4:50 and 4:55,” Lefever said. “So it kinda eliminates the kick for almost everybody unless you’ve got guts.”

The front-runners picked up the pace over the final two miles, and Lefever tried to use his strength on the hills to reel in Noah Affolder and Henderson, but it wasn’t quite enough. The second-mile pace was a blistering 4:48.

“They started kicking a little bit and I tried to go with them, but the rate they were kicking and I was kicking, they just gapped me a little bit,” Lefever said. “I kept trying to make up ground on those uphills, but I was dying. We went out so slow, so we really worked that middle mile more than I’m used to and that last mile as well was ridiculously fast, and I’m not really used to running it like that.”

Still, he shaved time off of his finish of 15:43.88 on the same course at the Big Spring’s Ben Bloser Bulldog Invitational, which was held in September. He also closed the gap on Henderson, who won the Invitational in 15:29.94.

“To have almost a 10-second PR on a pretty hard course like this, I’m very happy with that,” Lefever said.

Needless to say, he’d be very happy to be able to knock off Henderson too. Lefever accomplished that feat in the 3,200 at last spring’s State Track Meet, and although he knows that the McCaskey senior was banged up at the time, it gave him a boost of confidence nonetheless.

Lefever is hoping to carry that energy into his final high school cross country race this Saturday at States.

“I go into every race thinking I have a shot to beat anybody,” he said. “And one of these times, I’ll get him.”

Led by Lefever, the Ephrata boys placed 11th out of 38 with 335 points in the final team standings. Sophomore Andrew Foster (39th in 16:43) missed qualifying for States by just five spots and four seconds behind Hempfield’s Nick Norton, who finished 34th to claim the final berth in 16:39.

Following for the Mounts were senior Phillip Wenger (84th in 17:22), sophomore Tanyon Loose (97th in 17:26), junior Seth Bollinger (119th in 17:38), sophomore Mike Ward (179th in 18:15), and senior Kellen Swarr (191st in 18:19).

The Cocalico boys, who placed 18th as a team with 549 points, were led by sophomore Dylan Becker, who took 43rd place in 16:50. Next for the Eagles were junior Dan Main (103rd in 17:30), junior Evan Trowbridge (122nd in 17:40), senior Simon Stull (133rd in 17:50), sophomore Max McCormack (157th in 18:00) and senior Juan Bermudez (224th in 18:52).

Turning to the girls, Ephrata earned a solid 6th-place finish out of 34 teams, led by Eichenlaub, Campbell, senior Haley Schaller (35th in 20:08), junior Sydney Morgan (46th in 20:30), senior Courtney Schrom (90th in 21:14), freshman Sierra Zimmerman (140th in 21:59), and sophomore Elizabeth Martin (190th in 22:46).

Also competing for the Cocalico girls was junior Ashley Derr (203rd, 23:08).

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