In spite of cold and rainy weather and muddy course conditions, the Elizabethtown Area High School girls cross country team achieved what it set out to do at the beginning of the season: have the top three Lady Bears finish high at districts and qualify for states.
The Elizabethtown girls finished eighth overall in the team standings for Class 3A at the District 3 Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Oct. 27, which took place at Big Spring High School. Three of the Lady Bears placed in the top five, the first occurrence in the 21st century for District 3.
Sophomore Madeline Quinn got the team-high finish, getting third in 19:12.40 behind junior Emily Schuler of Dallastown (19:06.80) and sophomore Gwyneth Young of Cedar Crest (19:11.10). It’s a great improvement from her performance as a freshman in 2017, where she finished 14th.
“I started out slower than I had in some of my previous races,” Quinn said. “I’m not really sure when I hit the mile or the two-mile because there was no timing system, but I kept picking off girls and I definitely picked it up the second mile going into the third. And then I just stuck with some other runners the last mile of the race.”
Coming off winning the Lancaster-Lebanon League Championship on the girls side, junior Katie Locker finished in fourth (19:20.70). Like Quinn, it was also a career-best placement; she was previously 14th last season and eighth in 2016. Senior Cat Shontz ended up behind Locker in fifth (19:21.30), her highest placement as well (eighth in 2017, 13th in 2016, 14th in 2015).
“I started out slow as Madeline said,” Locker said. “I kind of stayed a little behind the front pack, hoping that maybe I would catch up to them a little bit closer to the middle of the race or so. I caught up with them for a while, but they just kept going faster. But I pretty much stayed with them, and it was OK. And then toward the end, the other runner I was running with, Cat, she started coming up on me which helped me have a better kick at the end so I guess I got to give it all to her.
“I knew I just had to start out at a decent pace and just keep that the whole time,” Shontz said. “I knew I was going to slow down into the race but I didn’t realize it was going to be so muddy. Once I started seeing how rough it was, my main goal was just trying to stay upright. I saw my teammates and I wanted to catch up to them so we could all run together and work together as a group. By the last mile, that’s what I was really trying to do … just work off and work with my teammates.”
Elsewhere, freshman Sierra Kapcsos also finished in the top 100 at 75th (21:26.60). The remaining Lady Bears runners included senior Jessie Lloyd (162nd, 23:08.70), junior Camille Donahue (193rd, 23:49.50) and senior Brooke Nicodemus (204th, 24:12.60). The big story is still the trio of Locker, Shontz and Quinn, who previously set the goal of finishing in the top five at districts before the season began.
“It’s amazing,” Locker said. “It’s hard to believe we actually accomplished it because we talked about doing that last year, and it didn’t happen. Then this year, at leagues, we all came in in the top five, so just knowing that we did it again at Districts is a big confidence booster.”
“It’s kind of surprising,” Shontz said. “We work every day together so it’s not really surprising that we came in around each other but this is what we work for every day and it’s nice to sometimes see those achievements.”
The Elizabethtown boys team also competed at the meet later in the day, ultimately finishing 15th in the overall Class 3A standings. While none of the Bears runners qualified for states, they did have three runners place inside the top 75: junior Jesse Myers (71st, 18:05.80), sophomore Garrick English (73rd, 18:07.30) and junior Alex Hartman (18:07.40). Senior Nat McCloud also finished inside the top 100 at 98th (18:21.70). The remaining Elizabethtown runners included freshman Nathan Johnson (120th, 18:32.30), junior Jared Alvarez (223rd, 19:38.10) and junior Dustin Sauder (247th, 20:01.40).
Locker, Shontz and Quinn will have one final meet left this season: the PIAA Championships, which are scheduled to take place in Hershey on Saturday, Nov. 3. The three all competed in last year’s event, where Locker was able to get ninth while Shontz (60th) and Quinn (78th) finished further back in the field. Still, all bets are off when it comes to states, so the trio are approaching the meet cautiously as well as optimistically.
“I’m hoping to place since I haven’t done real well there most years,” Shontz said. “My goal this year is to place, which I think I have a pretty good chance. And I want to keep working with my team and be able to stick with them more in the race instead of falling back in the beginning and having to catch up.”
“(Our goal would) probably (be) just to do the same thing we did here,” Locker said. “Maybe try to stick up with the top pack a little more, just see how much we can stay with them and then probably just for all of us to have a strong finish.”
Todd Ruth of The Ephrata Review contributed to this piece.