Penn Manor hands Warwick boys their only blemish
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Turn the page and get ready to go at the L-L League Championships.
That was the message that Warwick cross country coach Jenny Sassaman delivered to her boys runners on Tuesday afternoon after their opportunity for a perfect 21-0 season slipped away with a 21-34 loss to Penn Manor.
The combination of facing a talented Comets team, along with the fact that they just didn’t have their best race, added up to their first — and only — loss of the season. In the end, the Warriors finished the regular season 20-1 after beating host Cocalico (15-55), previously unbeaten McCaskey (23-34) and Northern Lebanon (15-55).
"It’s disappointing, the guys are really disappointed," Sassaman said. "But my thing is, if you go a season and you don’t have one bad race, I would just be kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak."
The Lady Warriors, meanwhile, dropped their shoe on four opponents on Tuesday, defeating Cocalico (18-49), McCaskey (24-37), Penn Manor (20-47) and Norlebco (15-55) to improve their final record to 19-2.
"The girls did great," Sassaman said. "McCaskey has a nice girls team this year, (but) they just weren’t as deep as our team. Emily was kinda going after (Tornados’ top runner Martha Boben) today, but our girls had the luxury of not pushing themselves as hard as they had to go and just staying ahead and being in the positions that they were assigned. And they really did a nice job today. I was really very pleased."
Unfortunately for the Warwick boys, they were unable to grab the positions that they needed to be against a tough Penn Manor squad, led by Harrison Schettler (1st, 17:03), Jonathan Bitner (2nd, 17:04), and Travis Wells (3rd, 17:10) to grab command.
Michael Urban was Warwick’s first finisher, in fourth place overall in 17:13, but then the Comets’ Joel Burkholder was fifth overall in 17:14 to all but seal it for Penn Manor.
"We just had a bad race as a team," Sassaman said. "Urban did his job, Matt Lefever did a great job … But we really did not stay in contact from the half-mile (point) to three-quarter mile on, and if you’re not in contact with a team like that, you’ve kinda lost it before it’s even run."
The Warriors grabbed the 8th through 11th spots courtesy of Lefever (17:32), Ben Mueller (17:38), Daniel O’Conor (17:40) and Austin Minnich (17:43). But the Comets’ fifth runner, Kiprop Shadrack was 13th in 18:01 to wrap it up for Penn Manor, who finished as the L-L’s regular season champ at 21-0.
"When you’re at this point in the season and you’re running a team like them … they ran a brilliant race," Sassaman said. "The guys need to dust off and lick their wounds and do all that metaphorical stuff and get it together for next week (at the L-L Meet) because they have a chance at redemption."
Rounding out the Warriors’ top eight were Will Howland (14th, 18:07), Jordan Garner (20th, 18:38) and Karl Bruhn (22nd, 19:00).
On the girls side, Penn Manor’s Greta Lindsley won easily in 19:08, followed by McCaskey’s Martha Boben (20:57), and Warwick’s top runner Emily Cameron was close on her heels in 21:02. But the Lady Warriors got the job done with a strong pack, as Rachel Mueller took fourth overall in 21:24. After Amanda Graber placed sixth in 21:32, Warwick put it away by grabbing the 9th through 13th spots behind Maddie Class (21:37), Samantha Shields (21:39), Amy Wood (21:40), Tia Holland (21:42) and Melanie Stauffer (22:17).
"We do not have anyone who is leading in the front, as far as getting anything under a 19:00 or real low 19’s," Sassaman said. "We’re going to have to rely on our pack. Emily’s starting up swimming again and she’s being very kind to lend us her talents. And our other girls have just really risen to the occasion. I’m just really pleased with their progress this year. I don’t think they’ve had their best race this season yet and that’s exactly where we want to be."
And to be 39-3 combined between the boys and girls is not a bad place to be either.
"That’s pretty great," Sassaman said. "That’s something to be very happy about."
Last Thursday, Ben Mueller and Urban placed 2nd and 3rd overall in 17:16 and 17:19, respectively, to lead the Warriors to wins over Annville-Cleona (26-31), Columbia (15-55) and Lebanon (15-55).
On the girls side, the Lady Warriors also went 3-0 with easy wins over A-C (20-47), Columbia (15-55) and Lebanon (15-55), led by Rachel Mueller (22:36), whose third-place finish led a Warwick pack of eight straight finishers.
Last Tuesday, Oct. 2, the Manheim Central boys and girls went a combined 5-3 at Ephrata.
Mason Hepner’s fifth place overall finish in 18:08 paced the Barons as they defeated ELCO (15-42), Ephrata (22-34), and Norlebco (15-42), while falling to Garden Spot (22-33).
Placing behind Hepner for the MC boys were Nathan Lachman (6th, 18:12), Kyle Kegarise (8th, 18:26), Josh Lachman (10th, 18:31) and Jordan Shimer (11th, 18:54).
Turning to the girls, Danae Peters placed 2nd overall in 20:32 to lead the Lady Barons, who defeated ELCO (27-30) and Norlebco (15-55), but lost to Garden Spot (19-48) and Ephrata (20-47).
Others finishers for Manheim Central were Charis Dinger (23rd, 24:27) and Katie Fair (24th, 24:41). More RUNNERS, page B-4