Warwick claims first L-L League track crown since 2001

By on May 17, 2017
Warwick freshman Lily Palacio-Lewis (far right) and sophomore Leah Graybill (left) sprint to a 1-2 finish in the 200-meter dash at Leagues last Saturday, eding Manheim Township’s Courtney German (not pictured) and Donegal’s Taylor Nissly. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Warwick freshman Lily Palacio-Lewis (far right) and sophomore Leah Graybill (left) sprint to a 1-2 finish in the 200-meter dash at Leagues last Saturday, eding Manheim Township’s Courtney German (not pictured) and Donegal’s Taylor Nissly. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

From day one, the Warwick girls’ focus was on the Lancaster-Lebanon League Championships.

“We were building off all our dual meets and all our training sessions for the League Meet,” sophomore sprinter Emily Williamson said.

They were certainly rewarded for their efforts.

Thanks to a haul which included four golds, an L-L Meet record and 16 total medals, the Lady Warriors took home the League championship last Friday and Saturday at Hempfield High School.

With 107 overall points, Warwick pulled away from runner-up Cedar Crest (90 1/2) and the rest of the field in rain-soaked Landisville. Their only other L-L championship came 16 years earlier in 2001.

“It’s great. I’m just thrilled for the kids,” Warwick coach Alex Daecher said. “The kids have got to feel great with all the medals they won and how well they did in just awful weather. It’s just miserable out here today and we said, ‘You’ve just got to be mentally tougher than everyone else.’ That’s all it is.”

“It was a team effort from everyone,” freshman hurdler/sprinter Cassidy Kline said.

Kline was part of an impressive team effort in the 4×400 relay, which claimed Warwick’s fourth and final L-L gold and sealed the title.

Together, Williamson and freshmen Lily Palacio-Lewis, Meghan Quinn and Kline finished in 3:58.25, breaking the previous L-L record of 3:58.80, set in 2002 by Warwick’s Carly Hess, Amy Musser, Ganne Way and Shannon Norris.

“I found out (we did it) when they announced the time,” Quinn said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we broke the League record.’ It was really cool.”

“It was definitely in the back of our heads,” Williamson remarked, “it was our goal overall, like, ‘We can hit that time.’”

Palacio-Lewis, without much rest after taking gold in the 200, took the opening leg of the relay and gave Warwick the lead.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish the race the way I’d (wanted). I just started out as fast as I could, I told myself, ‘If you die, you die, you went out fast.’”

Quinn and Williamson then held the edge before handing off to Kline, who ran a strong anchor leg, helping Warwick finish nearly six seconds in front of silver-medalist McCaskey (4:04.12).

“I was pretty confident,” Kline said, “but I always have something in the back of the head, like, ‘Anything can happen.’ When I received the baton from Emily, I didn’t really see who was behind her or how far they were behind. I kinda just ran with everything I had.”

There’s no question that Palacio-Lewis ran with everything she had on a day when she took home three gold medals — picking up titles in the 100 and 200, in addition to the 4×400 relay.

Her finish in the 200-meter dash in 25.26 seconds, just ahead of teammate Leah Graybill (25.47) who won the silver medal, was a new PR, shattering her previous best of 25.30.

“I’m hoping to go into Districts and PR again,” Palacio-Lewis said. “I felt really strong. It made me feel a little less nervous for the 4×4.”

The 1-2 finish by Palacio-Lewis and Graybill all but wrapped up the Lady Warriors’ L-L crown.

“(Sprints coach) Bobby (Rhoads) kinda walked up and said, ‘I think we’ve got this now,’” Daecher recalled, “because the kids have so much confidence in our 4×4 … The 1-2 in the 200 was like, ‘OK, that’s it.’”

Palacio-Lewis, Graybill and Quinn also combined for 19 points in the 100. In a battle with Annville-Cleona’s Reagan Hess, Palacio-Lewis (12.52) edged the Dutchmen senior (12.63) for the gold, while Graybill placed fourth in 12.70 seconds and Quinn took fifth in 12.98.

“I was really nervous running against Reagan, I knew she was really good competition, so I just went out and tried to run my best,” said Palacio-Lewis, who ran a PR of 12.3 at the Millersville Invitational this spring. “It wasn’t my best time, but with the weather, it was a pretty good time.”

Ditto for Graybill and Quinn.

“I was happy,” Quinn said. “I knew that I was going in as the fifth seed, so I was happy that I finished it getting fifth place.”

“It’s kinda what I expected,”Graybill said of placing fourth. “The 100 isn’t really my focus for today, so I was just kinda trying to do it to get through it and then focus on the other races.”

The 400 was more in Graybill’s focus, and she didn’t disappoint, outlegging Donegal’s Alice Fernald to the finish line in 57.64 seconds. Fernald (58.48) took silver and Kline (58.97) won bronze.

Asked how she felt, Graybill laughed and said, “Like death. My stomach just didn’t feel good because I was nervous and I haven’t eaten anything all day, so I’m really hungry.”

Her nerves were more calm once she got into the starting blocks.

“(Fernald) and the McCaskey girl (Lenaiya Flowers) and Cassidy (were the top competition),” Graybill said. “(The strategy) is usually go out strong the first 150, then I just kinda coast until down at the start of the 100, and give it all that I have left.”

Kline’s time was close to her PR of 58.6 seconds.

“I thought it was a good race for this weather today,” she said. “I’m happy with my time. It’s really close to the PR that I’ve had in the open 400, so that was exciting for me.”

Graybill was also a member of Warwick’s top-seeded 4×100 relay, along with Juliette Delmotte, Palacio-Lewis and Quinn. Unfortunately, the Lady Warriors didn’t get a clean handoff on one of their legs and ended up taking bronze in 50.21 seconds.

Warwick also took third place in the 4×800 relay, courtesy of Kline, Jaylyn Wagner, Deirdre White and Williamson. Seeded fifth, they crossed the finish line in a PR time of 9:40.92, not far behind runner-up Manheim Township (9:37.61). Ephrata won the gold medal in 9:34.32.

“Our coach said on the bus before we came out, ‘It’s mental today really because we’re all in top condition now,’” White said. “We just have to get through our heads that we could do it.”

“I think we just wanted to go out and be up with everybody out there,” Williamson said, “and see Cassidy go out and just run her race and she where she can put us and then everybody just follow behind her.”

Williamson also added a sixth-place finish in the 800 with a time of 2:24.32.

In the distance events, sophomore Kate Dickow gave McCaskey’s Lianna Tirado a test in Friday’s 3,200-meter run before taking home the silver medal in 11:13.23. Tirado won gold in 11:06.44.

“It was a really fast lap and I guess I wasn’t feeling it today,” Dickow said.

Still, she was happy with her time.

“I didn’t PR this race,” Dickow said, “but it was a hard week of training and I’m training to peak later in the season, not really right now, but I’m pretty happy with my time.”

In the field events, sophomore Trinity Bitting-Ellis led the charge with a silver medal in the high jump, clearing the bar at 5-0.

“Trinity is one of the most consistent athletes on our team,” Daecher said. “She performs at a high level all the time and always comes through. It is difficult to jump in such wet and slippery conditions, but she did fantastic.”

Senior Nia Allen added a bronze in the triple jump (36- 1/2), while junior Mathilda Zartman was eighth in the long jump with an effort of 16-4 1/2, picking up key points to help Warwick grab the L-L crown.

“I think the whole season, we’ve been telling the kids we can win the League Meet,” Daecher said. “The thing you’ve got to remember is how many freshmen are out there. This is not a junior high meet anymore, so to get those kids ready and get those nerves out and start to put things together … It’s great to win dual meets and a Section championship, but this was the goal to be the best in the League.”

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