Cat Shontz, Madeline Quinn, Katie Locker, Kate Weissend, Christopher Scharf and Charles Scharf qualified for the PIAA state cross country championship as a result of their finish at the District Three meet on Saturday, Oct. 28.
The six Bears that qualified for the state tournament is an Elizabethtown Area High School record.
Shontz, a junior, was Elizabethtown’s top finisher for the first time this season and finished eighth overall (19:22) in the Class AAA meet held at Big Spring High School. Her run was marked by steady movement towards the front of the pack as she was 11th after the first mile and ninth after the second mile.
“She’s a junior so the last couple of years she has pretty much been the star of the team, the No. 1 runner. Starting last year, she has had to take a back seat a little bit to Katie and sometimes to Maddie. To her credit, she hasn’t gotten discouraged or frustrated,” Gallagher said. “She deserves it. She’s a hardworking kid.”
Quinn, a freshman, has often been Elizabethtown’s second finisher this season, but she is normally trailing Locker, a sophomore. Quinn finished 14th (19:28) while Locker finished 29th (19:58) and Weissend finished 30th (19:59).
While Shontz, Quinn and Weissend were able to run their normal race, Locker was struggling to breathe throughout the race, according to coach Mark Gallagher. The issue seemingly popped up between the first and second mile as she was in fifth (5:51) at the first mile and 21st (12:37) at the second mile.
“She [Locker] had a really hard time breathing and the air just wasn’t there. She had to fight through that the best she could,” Gallagher said.
While Locker battled through her race, Gallagher said that Weissend had the “race of the day.”
“All the runners have the individual goals and then you piece it together as a team. We talked about her improving from last year’s finish. Honestly, if you would’ve said she would finish where she did today, I would have a hard time believing it, but it’s possible. She was one step behind Katie Locker, which is fantastic,” Gallagher said.
Brooke Nicodemus, Camille Donahue and Van Winkle were other Bears to compete in the district meet. Van Winkle finished 132nd (22:06), Donahue finished 196th (23:36) and Nicodemus finished 223rd (24:54).
As a team, the girls finished fifth overall with 193 points, which meant that the team reached a goal and fell short of a goal at the same time.
Heading into the meet, Gallagher said they were hoping for less than 200 points and a top-4 finish so that they could qualify for states as a team, rather than individuals. Chambersburg earned the final team spot with 181 points.
“We achieved a huge goal, but unfortunately the competition was incredibly difficult and that only gave us fifth this year,” Gallagher said.
Christopher Scharf was Elizabethtown’s top finisher in the boys meet with a ninth-place finish (16:32). Charles Scharf finished 22nd (16:42), which left him two spots away from earning a medal.
“We went out at a pretty moderate pace and we came across the two-mile a little slower than I expected, but it set up for a fast finish,” Christopher Scharf said.
The moderate pace in the first mile that he mentioned was set by Jake Underwood of Wilson (5:07). At the second mile, the pace was being set by eventual winner Morgan Cupp of Mechanicsburg (10:23).
Jesse Myers, Nat McCloud, Jason Trimble, Dylan Quinn and Ellot Kline were the remaining Bears to compete in the boys race. Myers finished 85th (17:39), McCloud finished 148th (18:17), Trimble finished 223rd (19:08), Quinn finished 242nd (19:39) and Kline finished 252nd (20:09).
The boys team finished 17th with 472 total points. Like the girls, the boys had a goal heading into the race and that was to get as many runners to qualify for states as possible.
“With the guys, we realized that we weren’t quite the team that the girls were as far as having a chance to go to states as a team so it was a focus on individual,” Gallagher said.
Sending both Scharfs to states, as seniors, was something that Gallagher was “thrilled” with.
“They’ve come really close the last couple of years, but this is the first time that one of them have made it so it was great that both of them made it,” Gallagher said.
The six Bears that qualified for states are scheduled to compete on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Parkview cross country course in Hershey. The AAA girls are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and the AAA boys are scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m.
Like the district meet, Gallagher said that the Bears will held into the state meet with a specific set of goals in mind.
“Some people think that it is better to internalize your goals, but I believe that the research says just the opposite is true. For the girls, as many of the girls out of that four, their goal is going to be to try and get a medal, which is top-25,” Gallagher said. “That really raises the bar high. Whoever gets a medal out of that group, it’s going to be absolutely amazing.”
In order to prepare for the race, Gallagher said that he and the girls are going to look at last year’s race to see what times that may need for a top-25 finish.
The goal for the Scharfs is the same as the girls and that is to earn a medal.
“We haven’t talked as much about that yet. For them, it really was just the goal of getting to states. If you’re going to be there, let’s go for a medal. I don’t think it’s crazy to think that. They have the ability,” Gallagher said.