Warwick boys team qualifies for States

By , on October 31, 2018

Shields places 5th to lead the way

Warwick senior Connor Shields gives a strong kick to the finish line last Saturday at Districts, placing fifth in 16:46.5. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Warwick senior Connor Shields gives a strong kick to the finish line last Saturday at Districts, placing fifth in 16:46.5. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Warwick’s boys cross country team had extra motivation to win the District Three Triple-A team championship last Saturday.

Less than 24 hours before the race, friends and school-mates were involved in a tragic automobile accident in Lititz, and they were obviously on the minds of all Warwick runners.

“We were trying to win it for them,” Warrior senior Connor Shields said.

In the end, the Warwick boys nearly did exactly that, placing second with 189 points behind only L-L rival Cedar Crest (145) at rain-soaked Big Spring High School.

Individually, Shields led the charge for the Warriors by placing fifth overall out of 270 total finishers in 16:46.50.

“I wanted to go for the win, but I’m not going to complain about fifth,” said Shields, who finished 21st overall at Districts last year in 16:47. “We were really trying to win the team title to take it home because (of the accident). It’s really tough. You never really think it’s going to happen to your school or your town. It’s just unreal.”

Senior Noah Martin also won a medal for the Warriors, taking home 12th overall in 17:03.30.

“It’s about where I expected to be,” Martin said, “so yeah, I was pleased.”

The Warriors also had to be pleased to qualify as a team for the PIAA Championships, to be held this Saturday, Nov. 3 in Hershey. It marks just the third time that Warwick boys cross country team has qualified to compete at States.

On the girls side, the Lady Warriors were 15th with 438 points in the Triple-A race, led by sophomore Anna Martin, who placed 27th out of 227 finishers in a time of 20:21.5.

Manheim Central, meanwhile, was 24th among the girls with 625 points, and the Baron boys were 32nd with 742 points in the Triple-A race.

Turning back to the Warwick boys, Shields’ strategy was to get a fast start and then try to stay with the top group of runners.

The L-L League had four of the top six finishers, with Manheim Township’s Evan Dorenkamp (16:30.7) and Ephrata’s Andrew Foster (16:35.1) placing 1-2 overall. Conestoga Valley’s Nathan Grucelski finished right behind Shields in sixth place in a time of 16:47.5.

“I tried to stay with that top group into the woods and just hang on through there,” Shields said. “It started to get me a little at the top of the hill, where I tried to kick it in there.”

Of course, the rainy conditions didn’t help any of the runners with their times.

“It was super muddy, super slippery,” Shields said. “Sometimes I had to take turns real wide or I’d go on the outside just to get better footing. A lot of people were slipping and falling … Coming up the hill was pretty tough.”

Added Martin, “I was taking the turns six feet wider than usual and still sliding. Going downhill, you had to make sure you kept your balance. It was just hard.”

The senior runner ended up finishing 33 seconds behind Dorenkamp, but overtook Hershey’s Brendan Shea (17:03.5), Gettysburg’s Andrew Hirneisen (17:05.6) and Manheim Township’s Ian Miller (17:06.8) at the finish line.

“I knew I wasn’t in the top tier, but I knew I was right there,” Martin said, “so I just tried to hang on with the top pack of guys. It worked. I think I passed three people at the finish, which helped. My time was off. The mud really slowed things down.”

Jeremy Bell (42nd, 17:48.6), Parker Keares (47th, 17:51.3) also chipped in with top-50 finishes for the Warrior boys. Rounding out their list of runners were David Bach (87th, 18:15.5), Jeremiah Hendrix (150th, 18:49.8), and Marcus Wachira (153rd, 18:50.7).

On the girls side, just missing top-50 finishes for the Lady Warriors were Sophia Nau (52nd, 21:00.3) and Caitlyn Wagner (56th, 21:08.0).

Other finishers for the Warwick girls were Alexa Wenger (130th, 22:35.7), Clara Ford (202nd, 24:07.8) and Jaylyn Wagner (209th, 24:21.4).

Turning to Manheim Central, Carson Hepner led the Barons, taking 23rd overall in 17:22.2.

Behind him were Elijah Wagner (134th, 18:41.4), Michael Greenwald (188th, 19:09.2), Isaac Martin (194th, 19:12.1), and Brady Knier (266th, 21:17.3).

Olivia Sunderland paced the Manheim Central girls with a 33rd-place finish in 20:33.7. Mallory Sunderland was next in 119th in 22:12.9, followed by Marianne Fitzkee (129th, 22:35.0), Isabella Reber (171st, 23:17.8) and Erin Hoffman (210th, 24:24.6).

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