Martin, Bell advance to State Cross Country

By on October 30, 2019

Warwick’s Anna Martin and Jeremy Bell had similar starts in the District Three Triple-A Cross Country Championships last Saturday.
The strategy?

Remain fairly conservative early, then pass others as the race unfolds.

And it worked like a gem for both of them at Big Spring High School in Newville.

Martin, a junior, took home a 10th-place medal finish in the girls race and punched her ticket to States with a time of 19:01.2.

Bell will join her at the PIAA Meet. The senior runner missed a medal by just four spots, but still finished 24th in 16:38.3 to advance.

That time was more than a minute faster than his finish at Districts a year ago, when Bell placed 42nd at Districts in 17:48.6.

“I’m really happy,” Bell said following a cool-down run. “(Getting to States) has been my goal for the entire season and it’s just so satisfying to finally be able to go to States again.”

Warrior senior Parker Keares ran a big PR while taking 32nd in overall in 16:45.6, but unfortunately, he missed a State berth by just two spots. South Western’s Shernel Singh earned the final PIAA ticket placing 30th in 16:44.6.

“(Parker) was right there,” Warwick coach Matt Bomberger said. “He’s reaching his potential in his last high school cross country race, so you can’t ask for anything more.”

The PIAA Championships are slated for this Saturday at Hershey’s Parkview course, with the Triple-A girls and boys to get underway at 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m., respectively.

For Martin, this will be her first trip to the State Meet, and Warwick coach Matt Bomberger was confident that she would take care of business.

“Anna’s been just laser focus all season and also as a captain trying to pull the team together with that,” Bomberger said. “She’s just been so confident all year, so it’s been really rewarding.”

“As the year went on and I started to PR and build some confidence, I’ve definitely been a lot more motivated, and today I was just so hyped to get out on the course and just run a good race,” said

Martin, who barely missed qualifying for States last year after placing 27th.

Her time on Saturday was more than a minute faster than a year ago, when she finished in 20:21.5.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming into today,” Martin said. “I knew that there was a whole big group of girls that were going to be all around the same time and ability level, so I’m really happy. I was toward the top of my goal place-finish. (My goal was to break) 19 minutes, but 19-flat is OK.”

Running an average-mile time of 6:06.9, Martin was 22nd at the one-mile point, then moved up to 15th at the second mile, before overtaking five move runners prior to the finish line.

“Just very strong and confident,” Bomberger said. “She doesn’t get strung out too fast in the beginning of the race, which is what we talk about a lot. She runs just slightly from behind, she picks off people, and she’s in the place where she needs to be at the finish line. She has a lot of confidence in that.”

Warwick junior Anna Martin runs to a solid 10th-place finish in 19:01.2 at Saturday’s District Three 3A Championships. Photo by Missi Mortimer.

Martin and her teammates also had a little bit of extra motivation for last Saturday’s competition. On the one-year anniversary of a tragic accident involving friends and school-mates, they inscribed 33 and JN on their wrists to honor Meghan Keeney and Jack Nicholson.

“It means a lot (to honor them),” Martin said. “They are what motivates me to run now. I feel like I have a reason to be racing and working my hardest. Today, there were parts (of the race) where I wanted to give up, but I just kept thinking like I have to keep fighting because I just want to be strong for them and live my best life.”

As a team, the Warwick girls placed 24th with 626 points. Sophomore Alexa Ovalle was second for the Warriors in 139th place in 22:01.3, followed by junior Rachel Bonner in 154th in 22:20.1, sophomore Kendall Eby in 180th in 22:50.0, sophomore Sophie Brandwene in 197th in 23:15.7, sophomore Emily Beale in 212th in 24:04.8 and sophomore Clara Ford in 224th in 24:44.3.

“We rallied today,” Bomberger said. “For just ending the season on a high note, I think the girls really pulled together and did that. Momentum into next June is what you want.”

Bell will certainly take momentum into the State Championships after placing 24th at Districts.

His time of 16:38.3 was exactly one-minute faster than his finish of 17:38.8 at the L-L League Championships just 11 days earlier.

“I was just trying to change my game plan from the previous meet, where I tried to stick with the top runners. I went out in, like, a 5-flat, 5:05 mile, so I really lost it in the last mile. I just learned from that in this race and I felt so much better and I was able to bring in a good race.”

This time, his first-mile split was in the 5:15 to 5:20 range, sitting roughly in the upper 70s.

But then Bell started to make his move. At the top of Kill Hill, he had improved to the mid-40s.

“As I kept passing more and more people, I knew that the plan that I set out to do was going to work and that I was in a really good position,” he said.

“I saw him here with about 200 (meters) to go and he was 23rd and just hauling by guys,” Bomberger said. “So he raced his race.”

Bell’s was just two seconds off of his PR of 16:36, which he posted in a meet at Carlisle.

“I was just ecstatic,” Bomberger said. “His goal today was to run a conservative start and then moved up through the middle, and he did that. His best races this season have been when he’s controlled the beginning of it. And the race that he didn’t feel so good in was the League Meet, when he tried to stretch out a little further in the beginning. So we just talked about that during the week and he came up with his plan and executed really well.”

A year ago, Bell competed as part of the Warrior team which qualified for States. This Saturday, he will be competing as an individual in the final race of his high school cross country career.

“Now that I’m all by myself, it’s just one more week left and I’ve just got to handle everything myself, which is something I think I can do,” Bell said. “I can’t wait.”

The Warriors placed 10th as a team at Districts with 312 points. Behind Bell and Keares were Senior Ryan Horner in 63rd (17:10.8), sophomore JH Mertz in 91st (17:24.8), senior Jeremiah

Hendrix in 112th (17:37.4), sophomore Colby Richard in 218th (18:34.8), and senior Josh Wenger in 222nd (18:39.2).

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