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Warwick runners sweep at Crest
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
In his junior season with the Warwick boys cross country team, Michael Urban is maturing as a runner.
And that was really good news for the Warriors on Tuesday afternoon in their season opener at Cedar Crest.
On a day when Warwick’s top runner Ben Mueller might not have had his A-game, Urban stepped up to take first-place overall honors, outlegging the host Falcons’ Chad Bomgardner to the finish line to win in 17:29 and helping the Warwick boys sweep the quad-meet with a 3-0 record. The Warriors earned a tight four-point win over Cedar Crest (26-30), while also knocking off Ephrata (19-49) and Lancaster Mennonite (16-43).
The Warwick girls, too, came out ahead in a couple of tight races, defeating both Ephrata (27-29) and Cedar Crest (25-31) by six points or fewer to start the season 3-0. Senior Emily Cameron led the Lady Warriors by placing second overall in 21:40, helping them also defeat Lancaster Mennonite 15-55.
"We had crazy performances from the crazy afternoon," Warwick coach Jenny Sassaman said. "It just all swung our way. We’re thrilled. There were a lot of solid performances, but there were just some unexpected twists and turns from within our own team."
None more so than in the boys race, where Mueller finished fourth among Warwick’s runners — and seventh overall — in a time of 17:50 behind Urban, Dan O’Connor (4th, 17:40) and Matt Lefever (6th, 17:45).
"Ben’s usually rock solid up front," Sassaman said. "He just didn’t have a good day and fortunately he had teammates that had been running with him and doing really well in practice and could support him. That’s the sign of a really good team."
Urban, of course, is a big part of that team, and on Tuesday, Sassaman pre-race strategy talk with him went a long way.
"In the two years he’s been with me, he’s gone out like a rocket every single race and I said, ‘Michael, today you are going to stay at number four until two miles,’" Sassaman said.
Although he wasn’t crazy about the idea, Urban listened, and he made his move in the final mile and climbed into first place, finishing four seconds ahead of Bomgardner (17:33).
"(Michael) ran a great race today," Sassaman said. "He stayed in fourth and then he took the lid off and he took it out front, he pounded those hills and he was first. He’s never done that. So he’s learning how to pace himself. I was thrilled."
Sassaman would be just as thrilled if her team could close the gap a bit between its fourth and fifth runners. There were 21 seconds separating their first and fourth runners on Tuesday, but then there was another 41 seconds until their fifth runner, Conor Smith, who placed 13th in 18:31.
"That might be our undoing in a big meet," Sassaman said, "so we’re really going to have to watch that."
Placing behind Smith were Austin Minnich (16th, 18:44), Jordan Garner (19th, 19:04), Will Howland (20th, 19:04), Karl Bruhn (23rd, 19:37), Samson Cassel-Nucci (39th, 20:48), Rick Vivola (41st, 20:54), Ryan Williams (42nd, 20:56) and Connor Chapman (52nd, 22:21).
On the girls side, Warwick was expecting a challenge from Ephrata, but not necessarily from Cedar Crest. But although Crest surprised them, the Lady Warriors were equal to the task while going undefeated.
"We thought Ephrata was going to be our only challenge, and that wasn’t true at all," Sassaman. "(Cedar Crest) was a little bit of a surprise, so we’re very, very pleased."
The Warwick girls are also very pleased to have senior Emily Cameron running for the team again thsi fall. Although she didn’t have a solid summer base of running, Cameron still led the team with a second-place overall finish in 21:40, nine seconds behind Lancaster Mennonite’s Chloe Mattilio (21:31).
"She’s a great kid," Sassaman said. "She’s super. She’s a gamer, she is so hungry for competition — it is a joy to coach her. I only have her for one year and I’m sad about that, but while I have her, I will enjoy her."
Behind Cameron, Maddie Class was second for the team, and fourth overall in 21:44, followed by Rachel Mueller (9th, 22:01), Amy Wood (14th, 22:33), and Amanda Graber (15th, 22;37) rounding out the top five. Other finishers for the Warwick girls were Samantha Shields (16th, 22:50), Monika Roschel (24th, 24:38), Melanie Stauffer (25th, 25:18), Megan Wood (26th, 25:51), Hannah Sterner (27th, 25:52), Emily Myers (28th, 26:28), Amy Kochel (29th, 26:30), Choloe Eberly (32nd, 26:41), Linn Bjanes (37th, 28:46), Samantha Lindenmuth (38th, 28:54), Maria Mazenko (41st, 30:00) and Meg Miller (42nd, 30:10).
The Warwick boys and girls will get another test next Tuesday, Sept. 11 when they face Manheim Township.
Asked if they can challenge for the L-L’s regular-season title, Sassaman said, "Absolutely. We’ve been talking about that since last year. But everything is very tenuous. Unless Emily starts coming on, we do not have an ace runner. Our power is going to be within our pack and bringing up as many people as we can with that. Our Achilles heel with our boys is our five. The five, six, seven, eight (runners), they are all grouped together, but they are too far away from the top four."
Manheim Central was also in action on Tuesday at Penn Manor, where the girls went 3-1 and the boys finished 2-2.
Lady by Danae Peters’ second-place finish in 20:46, the Lady Barons defeated Conestoga Valley (25-30), the host Comets (20-39), and Columbia (15-55). Their only loss was a 20-41 decision against Manheim Township.
Lauren Adams also earned a top-10 finish for the MC girls, taking ninth overall in 24;27, and Charis Dinger (13th, 24:57), Jordan Mitchell (15th, 25:48) and Katie Fair (17th, 26:02) rounded out the top five. Alex Agesen added a 23rd-place finish in 26:23.
On the boys side, Kyle Kegarise placed eighth overall in 18:51 for the Barons, who defeated Conestoga Valley (16-42) and Columbia (15-55), while suffering a tight 27-30 loss to Manheim Township. The Central boys also dropped a 15-43 loss to Penn Manor.
The Barons used a solid pack of four runners between eighth and 11th place, with Josh Lachman (9th, 18:54), Mason Hepner (10th, 19:02) and Nathan Lachman (11th, 19:05) following Kegarise to the finish line. Those four runners were separated by just 14 seconds.
Central’s fifth runner was Jordan Shimer in 23rd place in 20:14. More RUNNERS, page B-5