Graber advances to States

By on October 29, 2014

Warwick’s Amanda Graber and McCaskey’s Martha Boben had a friendly rivalry at the end of the District Three Triple-A Girls Cross Country Championship Meet last Wednesday, Oct. 22.

With the finish line in sight at Hershey’s Parkview course, each tried to out-sprint the other.

Warwick senior Amanda Graber runs to a 26th-place finish in 20:24 at the District Championships last Wednesday.

Warwick senior Amanda Graber runs to a 26th-place finish in 20:24 at the District Championships last Wednesday.

At the time, it never occurred to them that they were going head-to-head for the final berth in the PIAA Championship Meet, which is set for this Saturday, Nov.1 back on that same course in Chocolatetown.

But when Graber crossed the finish line in 26th place overall in 20:24 &tstr; just two seconds ahead of Wilson sophomore Lindsay Sanger (20:26) and three in front of Boben (20:27) &tstr; she became the final runner to advance.

Going into the race, Graber and coach Jenny Sassaman thought that a top-30 finish would most likely punch her ticket to States for the second time in three years. Based on what she was hearing from spectators along the course, Graber felt like she had herself positioned well.

Still, the Warwick senior never felt 100 percent secure until everything was official.

“I’m one of those people that really doesn’t give myself full security,” she said. “When I saw that I got the last spot, it wasn’t a sigh of relief. I immediately thought about what would have happened if I was two seconds slower.”

Graber also advanced to States as a sophomore, when she took 31st overall in 21:03. In her final District race last Wednesday, she shaved 39 seconds off of that time.

“I definitely think the field got a lot faster over the years,” Graber remarked, “and I think that had a lot to do with it.”

Still she was quick to point out that with the challenging nature of Hershey’s course, it’s not designed for runners to set PRs. With that in mind, Graber’s focus was placing well and competing where she should be in relation to the runners she knew around her.

“That course is not made for girls to reach their best times of the season,” she said. “It’s made to prove whether or not you deserve to go to States … I was going for a good time that I would be proud of. Going to States was kinda always in the back of my mind. So it was really nice when I did end up qualifying.”

It was a positive result following what proved to be a frustrating regular season. After running a time of 20:50 in Warwick’s first meet of the season, Graber was hoping to build on that and eventually break the 20-minute barrier. She got close in the final meet on their home course, crossing the line in 20:04, but couldn’t quite get over the hump.

“I was really happy with (my District race),” she said. “I was happy with compared to my other races from the season.”

Warwick junior Samantha Shields, a State qualifier last year, was on the bubble, but fell just a little bit short, placing 30th in 20:31.

Other Lady Warrior finishers were junior Abby Steinour in 104th place in 21:52, junior Malon Bailey (140th, 22:40), junior Alli Stauffer (174th, 23:06), sophomore Ally McCarthy (223rd, 25:03), and junior Morgan McLucas (224th, 25:04). As a team, the Warwick girls placed 16th with 436 points.

Turning to the boys, the Warriors finished 24th overall with 663 points, led by senior Will Howland, who took 88th place in 17:59. Other WHS finishers were junior Matt Polonus (98th, 18:09), senior Karl Bruhn 142nd, 18:32), juniors James Latanishen (179th, 18:51), sophomore Nich Gerencser (190th, 19:02), sophomore Drayk Cassamajor (247th, 19:48) and junior Adam Kensinger (268th, 20:27).

The top 30 finishers advanced to States.

Manheim Central also competed in the Triple-A races, as the boys took 14th place with 405 points. Senior Nate Lachman was the Barons’ top finishers, placing 50th in 17:31, followed by freshman David Merkey (76th, 17:49), senior David Dise (80th, 17:51), and sophomores Galen Fitzkee (82nd, 17:55), Ian Lauver (126th, 18:26), Nathan Boyer (234th, 19:31) and Caleb Weaver (248th, 19:49).

Leading the Lady Barons was junior Charis Dinger, who took 45th overall in 20:49. Junior Alydia Gochnauer added a 143rd-place finish in 22:43.

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