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Gearing up for the L-L Championships
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Warwick cross country coach Jenny Sassaman and her runners can hardly wait for the post-season to get underway.
Ditto for Manheim Central skipper Shane Adams and Co.
Their wait will be over next Tuesday, Oct. 15 when the L-L League Championships are held at Ephrata Middle School. The girls will leave the starting line at 4 p.m., followed by the boys race, which is slated to start at 5 p.m.
"We have a lot of people who are very excited for this meet and I just can’t wait to let them go and watch them run," Sassaman said.
Cedar Crest should be the favorite in the boys race, while Ephrata and Manheim Twp. both have strong squads among the girls.
Sassaman believes her girls squad could earn a top-five finish, and although the young Warrior boys are in the midst of a rebuilding season, Warwick’s head coach said that the sky is the limit for both teams.
"They don’t have dead legs, they’re ready to go," said Sassaman, whose girls ended the regular season at …. with the boys finishing ….. "They can’t wait to run. That’s exactly where we want to be at the end of the season. No matter where their best lands them – first, 15th, anything in between – I want them to be at their very best and they will be."
The Central boys and girls enter the L-L Championships coming off a regular season in which they finished ..-.. and ..-.., respectively.
"The expectations are that both teams will be competitive with the other teams in league," Adams remarked.
The Lady Barons are led by Danae Peters, who has lost just once this fall. Jordan Mitchell and Halle Funk could also be in the mix for medals, which go to the top-20 finishers.
"The hope is Danae will finish in the top five," Adams said.
Turning to the boys, Manheim Central’s top three are Kyle Kegarise, Nate Lachman and Cole Sunderland.
"I think we have two, three boys who could earn a League medal," Adams remarked.
For Warwick, Sassaman is optimistic about what’s in store for her top runners as well. She and her coaches tweaked the training program for their athletes this fall, and although they were disappointed not to get an opportunity to run at the Paul Short Invitational, they are looking forward to the post-season.
Rachel Mueller, Sam Shields and Amanda Graber for the girls, and Michael Urban, Jordan Garner and Will Howland for the boys could all challenge for L-L hardware.
"Our top three girls definitely want to medal. Our top three want to medal and we’ll see how that goes," Sassaman said. "A lot of our runners are saying, instead of feeling burnt out and let’s see what we can do with what we have left, they’re ready to go."
Behind the top three, the goal for Warwick’s four and five runners will be top-50.
"That would really help us out," Sassaman said. "I’m really hoping to see our four, five and six, seven, eight runners step it up. This is their time to shine. One, two, three, I’m confident they’ll be there. But for four through eight, I’m ready for them to spring. I just want to see what they can do. I’m just really hopeful for them that they’re really going to have their best meet this year."
In the regular-season finale, Warwick’s boys and girls won seven of a possible eight in a five-team race at Lampeter-Strasburg.
Rachel Mueller’s second-place finish in 19:31 led the Lady Warriors, who improved to 13-8 after picking up four wins, defeating L-S (21-35), Cocalico (15-54), Penn Manor (24-38) and Northern Lebanon (15-55).
Sam Shields (4th, 19:50) and Amanda Graber (5th, 19:59) added top-five finishes, while Amy Wood (9th, 21:26) and Malon Bailey (10th, 21:34) rounded out Warwick’s top-five finishers.
Turning to the boys, the Warriors’ only blemish on Tuesday was a 23-34 loss to Penn Manor. They defeated L-S (20-39), Cocalico (15-52) and Northern Lebanon (19-45) to improve their final record to 10-11.
Michael Urban ran to a top overall finish 16:42 to lead the way, and the Warriors had a nice pack between eighth and 10th with Jordan Garner (17:25), Matt Polonus (17:26) and Will Howland (17:29).
Manheim Central was also in action on Tuesday, wrapping up the regular season with five of a possible six wins at Annville-Cleona.
Danae Peters’ first-place finish in 20:17 paced the Lady Barons, who defeated Penn Manor (22-33), Annville-Cleona (15-48) and Cedar Crest (19-38) to improve to 18-3.
Others in the top five for the MC girls were Halle Funk (3rd, 21:37), Jordan Mitchell (4th, 21:51), Allison Dombach (7th, 22:43) and Charis Dinger (11th, 23:11).
The Baron boys (16-5), meanwhile, took two of three, losing to Cedar Crest (15-52), but knocking off Annville-Cleona (25-30) and Donegal (18-39). Nate Lachman’s 8th-place finish in 15:54 led Manheim Central, followed by Kyle Kegarise (10th, 17:56), Cole Sunderland (13th, 18:06), David Dise (15th, 18:25) and Galen Fitzkee (24th, 19:05).
More RUNNERS, page B-7