Depth matters in every sport, but cross country is perhaps the one where it plays the biggest factor. Both the girls and boys teams for Elizabethtown were missing one key runner each ahead of their first meet of the season. One team was able to overcome the adversity thanks to the efforts of some up-and-coming runners. The other fought hard but came up just short.
The Bears hosted Warwick on Tuesday, Sept. 3, in what was the first regular-season event of 2019 for both teams. The heart of the girls race was extremely tight, with the two sides splitting the top-10 spots evenly. However, Elizabethtown was able to pull out a 27-28 victory after getting three of its runners into the top four.
Senior Katie Locker was as consistent as she was in her previous three seasons, coasting to first place in a time of 20:13. But the Lady Bears needed help from the rest of the roster, as their usual No. 2 runner, junior Madeline Quinn, will be out until the end of September with a stress fracture in her right foot.
Luckily, they came through thanks to the efforts of four sophomores. The first was Sierra Kapcsos, who had a strong freshman campaign in 2019. She looks to have continued to progress as a runner, taking third behind Warwick junior Anna Martin (20:53) in 21:08.
“It was painful, but it was fun,” Kapcsos said. “I’ve been training with Katie every day since the beginning of July, so I felt more prepared. That definitely helps me set my goals for the season and postseason, being able to look back at what she did and how much I’ve been training with her and putting that forward.”
The biggest contribution came from sophomore Olivia Shenk, new to the team this season after spending her freshman year on the girls soccer team. She was sixth at the midway point behind Warwick sophomores Alexa Wenger (23:12) and Kendall Eby (23:14) before gradually passing Eby and finally scampering past Wenger on the final stretch to take fourth in 23:11. Coupled with ninth and 10th-place finishes from sophomores Katrina Hook (25:29) and Emily Bonsall (25:30), and it was enough to push Elizabethtown to victory.
“I (couldn’t) really see anybody that far ahead of me,” Shenk said. “I just (knew) I needed to beat two girls. At the very last second, I got ahead of both.”
Meanwhile, the boys were stacked at the top of the field, despite missing sophomore Garrick English, who was out with shin splints. Seniors Jesse Myers and Alex Hartman raced comfortably to first (17:32) and second-place (17:46) finishes, respectively. Sophomore Nathan Johnson was solid as well, coming in fifth (18:56) behind Warriors seniors Jeremy Bell (18:00) and Parker Keares (18:34).
However, the Bears were bested due to the Warriors capturing the next six positions, resulting in a 28-33 win. Senior Jeremiah Hendrix (sixth, 19:08), sophomore J.H. Mertz (seventh, 19:17) and senior Ryan Horner (eighth, 19:24) rounded out the point-scoring for Warwick, while freshman Shane Moran (12th, 19:57) and junior Nathan Barnhart (14th, 20:20) did the same for Elizabethtown.
With the girls at 1-0 and the boys at 0-1 to start the year, the Bears are scheduled to go to Hempfield on Tuesday, Sept. 10; Ephrata and Solanco will be there as well. Elizabethtown is also set to compete at the 11th edition of the PT-XC meet at Kutztown University on Saturday, Sept. 7.
LNP correspondent Steve Navaroli contributed to this story.