The second Section One meet of the season for Elizabethtown Area High School’s cross country teams on Tuesday, Sept. 10, ended up being a showcase for host team Hempfield; the Black Knights utterly dominated the boys race, sweeping the top five spots to beat E-Town, Ephrata and Solanco. The girls team was also able to pull out three victories, including a tiebreaker with the Mounts that came down to the sixth runner for both teams.
Still, the Bears had a prime chance to get matching wins over Ephrata and Solanco for their two teams. One was barely able to pull them out, while the other only accomplished half of that goal.
Before then, both Elizabethtown teams took part in the 11th annual PennTrackXC (PTXC) invitational meet at Kutztown University on Saturday, Sept. 7. The field was crowded at every level, but the Bears came out with mixed-to-positive results. The boys, competing in the blue division with 31 other schools in a field of 242 runners, took 13th overall, while the girls, competing at the elite gold level with 16 other schools in a 124 runner race, finished 14th.
Senior Katie Locker had the best finish between the two, placing seventh overall for the girls in a time of 19:19.90. Sophomore Sierra Kapcsos was able to get into the top 25 by finishing 24th (20:09.10). Fellow sophomore Olivia Shenk was the only other Lady Bear to get into the top 100; she took 71st (22:17.30). Sophomore Katrina Hook (101st), sophomore Emily Bonsall (106th) and junior Hannah Kline (117th) also participated.
For the boys, senior Jesse Myers nabbed 10th in 17:11.50. Sophomore Nathan Johnson (28th, 17:53.70) and senior Alex Hartman (55th, 18:21.30) rounded out the top 100 for the Bears, who also had freshman Shane Moran (140th), senior Dustin Sauder (149th), junior Nathan Barnhart (151st), junior Joey Sauder (154th) and sophomore Wyatt Mummau (184th) competing.
When the Bears returned to regular-season action at Hempfield, they had to try and escape with wins vs. Ephrata and Solanco in light of the Knights’ success. The girls managed to succeed, though aside from their top two runners, it wasn’t pretty.
Locker captured her second win of the season with a time of 19:37. Kapcsos ran great as well, coming in second with a 19:55, well ahead of third-place (Hempfield’s Delaney Minder). However, there was a sizable gap before the next runner crossed the finish line for Elizabethtown. That was Shenk, who took 15th (22:36).
Given three Mounts (Mary Campbell, Alyssa Fedorshak and Alexis Roe) going 4-5-6 in the standings and a fourth (Madison Kimmel) finishing 10th, the Lady Bears had to have two of their runners come in ahead of the final qualifying Ephrata girl. Against all odds, it happened. Sophomores Katrina Hook (22nd, 23:20) and Emily Bonsall (23rd, 23:31) were able to comfortably finish ahead of Sarah Heberlig (24th) to give Elizabethtown a one-point, 27-28 victory over the Mounts.
Hempfield bested the Lady Bears 25-38 thanks to the efforts of Minder, Gabriella Hollinger (7th), Lily Williams (9th), Paige Harrington (11th) and Isabel Smith (12th). Elizabethtown topped Solanco 22-33 in the final head-to-head matchup. The Golden Mules’ qualifying runners consisted of Daria Neaves (8th), Emma Baxter (16th), Nicole Dodson (18th), Chesley Ledesma (27th) and Elaina Kreider (29th).
With the Hempfield quintet of Jack Mieszkalski (1st), Evan Eshleman (2nd), David Jackson (3rd), Dale Winand (4th) and Ethan Kline (5th) capturing the top-five spots in the boys race, the other three teams had to fight amongst themselves to try and get a victory. At the halfway point of the race, Elizabethtown seemed to have the advantage; Myers was hanging with the Knights’ front pack, while Hartman and Johnson were hovering around the top-10 group.
However, Myers lost ground rapidly down the stretch after suffering a cramp. Hartman was able to pass Raymond Truex on the final stretch to take sixth in 17:21, the best non-Hempfield time. Jackson Hart finished in 11th for the Mounts, followed closely by Johnson in 13th (17:43) for the Bears.
Unfortunately for Myers, he fell too far back to catch up to Nathan Kimmel (16th) and Micah Weaver (21st), which clinched a slim 27-29 win for Ephrata over Elizabethtown. However, Myers was able to pass Solanco’s Eller Nathan (25th) on the last stretch to take 24th in 18:25, guaranteeing an eventual 27-30 win for the Bears over the Mules, who had three runners (Anthony Solis Morales, 8th; Jacobsen Avery, 20th; and Fisher Tate, 22nd) ahead of him at the time.
Sophomore Garrick English, competing for the first time this season after suffering from shin splints, finished in 27th (18:33). Moran rounded out the Bears’ qualifying runners by placing 29th (18:58).
Elizabethtown’s next regular season meet is set to take place at Conestoga Valley on Tuesday, Sept. 17, alongside Penn Manor. The Bears (girls 3-1, boys 1-3) have another invitational on tap as well; the Ben Bloser Invitational, which is scheduled to be held at Big Spring on Saturday, Sept. 14.