The 2019 fall sports season went about as well as one could hope for Elizabethtown Area High School. Each team either improved immensely from 2018 or remained competitive in spite of widespread changes. For the second year, The Elizabethtown Advocate is recognizing some of the more notable Bears athletes with its seasonal sports awards.
Outstanding Girls Athlete: Katie Locker, cross country AND Sydney Stewart, girls volleyball
It seems fitting to simultaneously celebrate a female athlete who has made her mark on Elizabethtown sports over the course of four seasons as well as one who’s just starting to hit the peak of success.
After winning all but one meet during the regular season, Locker finished up her cross country career by placing second at the L-L League Championship for the third time; she entered this season as the reigning champion. She took eighth at districts to qualify for states for the fourth time as well, where she ended up in 31st place. Locker also earned her fourth straight first-team Section One All-Star nod.
Meanwhile, Stewart followed up an impressive freshman season by absolutely dominating as a sophomore. She led all Section Two players with 244 regular-season kills, also adding 177 digs and 47 service aces, which were both second on the team for the Lady Bears. Stewart not only made the first team for section All-Stars as an outside hitter, but she also won the MVP award as well.
Mackenzie Hammaker, field hockey: Hammaker carried the Lady Bears at times on offense this season, scoring 14 of the team’s 22 goals. That was good for fifth overall in Section Two; she also tied for fifth in points with 33. Her assist total of 5 led Elizabethtown as well. All that earned Hammaker a spot on the first-team for section All-Stars; she had made the second team in 2018.
Kallee Locker, girls volleyball: The younger sister of Katie Locker and the recently graduated Larry Locker (the all-time scoring leader for Elizabethtown boys basketball), Kallee is keeping up the family tradition in sports. She was second behind Stewart with 217 regular-season kills and also led the team with 49 blocks, nabbing a second-team spot at middle hitter for Section Two All-Stars.
Kaelynn Sheetz, girls soccer
Olivia Shuck, girls soccer: Shuck returned to the Lady Bears after playing for PA Classics full-time last season and didn’t miss a beat. She led the team with 9 assists, was third with 6 goals and ranked second in points behind Sheetz, also notching a second-team All-Star honor as well.
Alaina Telenko, field hockey
Outstanding Boys Athlete: Cole Rice, football
The field for the boys was wide open this year, but Rice was able to stand above the rest with his tremendous output on offense. Having never played at wide receiver full-time before, he carried the Bears with 825 yards (second in Section Two, fifth in the league) and 6 touchdowns on 46 catches (fourth in Section Two, seventh in the league). He also added 197 rushing yards and three more TDs (two on the ground, one via a kick return). On defense, Rice was stout at safety, ranking second on the team with 87 total tackles.
Adam Evans, boys soccer
Jett Kelly, football: While he was reliable at guard on the offensive line, Kelly was a monster at times on defense. He finished fifth on the team with 63 total tackles, leading the way in tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (7).
Jesse Myers, cross country: Myers won three of the five regular-season meets he competed in, the most of any boys runner for the Bears. He concluded his senior season with career-best placements at leagues (30th) and districts (64th) and was a second-team All-Star in Section One for the boys.
Adnan Traore, football: A consummate professional, Traore was the lone Bear to eclipse the century mark in total tackles, finishing with a team-high 113. Along with starting every game at guard and linebacker, he was second behind Kelly with 7 tackles for loss and 3 sacks.
Alex Williams, golf: After a breakout sophomore season where he qualified for districts, Williams was just as good during his junior year, finishing third in Section Two with a scoring average of 81. He tied for 18th at leagues to return to districts, where he topped his previous placement in 2019 by taking 27th.
Outstanding Girls Senior: Kaelynn Sheetz, girls soccer
The Lady Bears returned to the playoffs in 2019, and Sheetz was at the forefront of their resurgence, leading the team with 11 goals. Her assist total of 7 (second on the team) made her the leader in points as well. Moreover, she was a quiet leader for the rest of the group. As a result, Section Two awarded her with a spot on the first-team for All-Stars on offense.
Hayden Calaman, girls volleyball: Calaman’s assist total of 533 led the team and was second in Section Two behind Garden Spot junior Abby O’Neill, putting her on the second team for All-Stars. Combined with 381 assists in 2018, she had a two-year total of 914.
Mackenzie Hammaker, field hockey
Ashley Nyesmith, girls volleyball: Nyesmith led the Lady Bears with 281 digs and 65 service aces during the regular season. The former was tops in Section Two, earning her a first-team spot at libero for All-Stars. She also had a whopping two-year dig total of 498.
Alicia Underkoffler, girls soccer: A more vocal leader compared to Sheetz, Underkoffler was a lockdown defender once again, nabbing a first-team All-Star honor. She also came alive offensively down the stretch, scoring 3 goals, including two huge ones against Lampeter-Strasburg and Ephrata that helped to keep the Lady Bears alive in the playoff hunt.
Kate Weissend, girls tennis: A first-year player as a senior, Weissend was thrown to the fire after earning the No. 1 singles spot on the team. She performed admirably, finishing with an even record of 7-7, as well as 6-4 in doubles with fellow senior Lauren Masser. Weissend was able to make the Section Two All-Star team in the process.
Outstanding Boys Senior: Adam Evans, boys soccer
After a couple of seasons as a complementary player for the Bears, Evans stepped up this year on offense, leading the team with 7 goals. He excelled as a team captain as well and was awarded with a first-team slot for Section Two All-Stars.
Alex Hartman, cross country: Since picking up cross country for the first time during his junior year, Hartman has made major strides. He finished in the top 10 of three of the four regular-season meets he took part in, also placing 39th at leagues.
Cole Hitz, football: Hitz was quietly one of the more reliable players for Elizabethtown this season on both sides of the ball, ranking second on the team in receiving (34 catches for 343 yards and 3 TDs) and fourth in total tackles with 74.
Jesse Myers, cross country
Jake Sevcik, boys soccer: Sevcik had a lot to live up to as the lead defender for the Bears, but he spearheaded a stop unit that allowed just 16 goals during the regular season. He also led the team with 4 assists.
Adnan Traore, football
Outstanding Girls Underclassman: Alaina Telenko, field hockey
Telenko played very well in the net as a freshman, albeit in a timeshare with current senior Mackenzie Atticks. Once she took over full-time as a sophomore in 2019, she was a force, finishing second in Section Two with 153 saves (fifth in the league) as well as an 82.26% save percentage. She made the first-team for section All-Stars as well.
Allison Evans, girls tennis: Like Weissend, Evans was a first-year player for the Lady Bears, and she flashed multiple times this season. She ultimately led the team with a 7-4 doubles record in addition to a 3-3 singles record. Evans and senior Anna Bert also had the lone Elizabethtown victory at the L-L Flight Tournament in No. 3 doubles.
Taryn Hummer, girls soccer: Hummer was a full-time starter as a freshman and continually got better as a midfielder. She tied for fourth on the team with 4 assists and made an impact on defense as well. Section Two awarded her with a second-team All-Star spot.
Sierra Kapcsos, cross country: While Kapscos missed out on qualifying for states at districts, she had a stellar regular season, finishing in the top four in all five meets en route to a first-team All-Star position. She also took sixth at leagues.
Kallee Locker, girls volleyball
Hailey Mertz, field hockey: Mertz’s talents don’t show up in the stat sheet; she had just 2 defensive saves on the season. But she also started in every game for the Lady Bears and was a second-team All-Star in Section Two thanks to her solid two-way play as a midfielder.
Outstanding Boys Underclassman: Pat Gilhool, football
Pretty much all of the male sophomores and freshmen at Elizabethtown played supplementary roles in 2019. Not Gilhool, who took on the challenge of starting at quarterback for the first time after a year on the bench as a freshman backup. Despite some inconsistency and a couple of missed games due to injury, he ultimately finished with 1,302 yards and 9 TDs through the air, as well as 3 TDs on the ground.
Brandonn Frey and Riley Runnels, football: The only other sophomores who were fixtures for the Bears from game one. Frey was a steady target at tight end, catching 8 passes for 110 yards, both fourth on the team. Runnels, meanwhile, emerged as a dangerous interior defensive lineman; he had 17 total tackles and 2 sacks.
Nathan Johnson and Shane Moran, cross country: Johnson built on a decent freshman year, scoring points in all five regular-season meets for the Elizabethtown boys and finishing in the top 15 for each race (three times in the top 10). Moran, on the other hand, was the lone freshman on the team. He scored points in four of the five regular-season meets.
Carlton Wise, boys soccer: Though Wise finished with just one goal and one assist on the year, he was a fixture in the starting lineup for Elizabethtown, developing into a streaky two-way player on offense and defense. As one of the eight underclassmen returning next season, he’s certain to play a huge role for the Bears.
Boys Team of the Year: boys soccer
With an extremely inexperienced roster, it would’ve been understandable for the Bears to have a relatively down season by their standards. But they didn’t, hanging tough in an extremely tight Section Two to finish with an 8-7-1 record, enough to clinch a district playoff berth for the eighth straight year, where Elizabethtown lost to eventual champion Central Dauphin in the first round.
Girls Team of the Year: girls volleyball
Head Coach of the Year: Jenna Griest
After losing a talented group of seniors, the Lady Bears had to work even harder to stay competitive in 2019. They succeeded, duplicating 2018 with a 12-4 record and a second-place finish in Section Two. Elizabethtown topped itself, however, by topping Conestoga Valley and Manheim Township in the league playoffs to advance to the championship game, losing to eventual district champion Hempfield. While the Lady Bears also lost in the first round of districts, Griest has done a great job in her first two seasons as head coach to keep the program on a continued path of success; evidently, the rest of the L-L agrees, as she won the Section Two Coach of the Year award.
Team runner-ups: girls cross country, girls soccer
Coaching honorable mentions
Andy Breault, football
Mark Gallagher, cross country
Brian Ressler, girls soccer
James Sostack, boys soccer
Cindy Telenko, field hockey