Through the first two meets of the season, both of Elizabethtown Area High School’s cross country teams have had to fight and claw against the competition. The girls, apart from a loss to Hempfield, have been able to come out with victories. The boys? Not so much. That changed during the third meet of the year.
Before that, the team sent a group of runners to the Ben Bloser Invitational at Big Spring High School on Saturday, Sept. 14. Elizabethtown finished with solid results at the Class 3A level, as the girls finished ninth out of 19 teams and the boys took 13th out of 27 teams.
Senior Katie Locker had the best finish for the Lady Bears, placing eighth in a time of 19:03.46. Sophomore Sierra Kapcsos broke the 20-minute barrier, timing out at 19:58.82, good for 22nd. Fellow sophomores Olivia Shenk (55th, 21:34.78) and Katrina Hook (90th, 23:15.82) were also able to break the top 100. Junior Hannah Kline (117th, 24:45.67) rounded out the team.
Senior Jesse Myers led the boys with a 13th-place finish; he had a time of 16:33.76. Fellow senior Alex Hartman was solid as well, taking 35th in 17:13.28, while junior Garrick English was 63rd (17:47.94). Freshman Shane Moran (130th, 19:02.55), senior Dustin Sauder (152nd, 19:30.93) and junior Nathan Barnhart (154th, 19:38.91) were also in attendance.
Elizabethtown traveled to Conestoga Valley on Tuesday, Sept. 17, to take on both the Buckskins and Penn Manor. Two of the four one-on-one battles were close, but the Bears emerged with a clean sweep over their two opponents.
The girls already had two single-point wins ahead of the meet, and that theme continued, as they narrowly beat Conestoga Valley 27-28, also topping Penn Manor 21-34. The Lady Bears appeared to have the advantage after the first two runners crossed the finish line. Locker picked up her third straight victory in 20:02, with Kapcsos not far behind in second at 20:52.
Shenk had fought sophomore Kylynn Frankford and junior Kate Kmieczak, both of Conestoga Valley, for much of the race. All three passed Penn Manor freshman Abby Ames on the final stretch, but Shenk was unable to overtake the two Buckskins, finishing in fifth at 21:40. Conestoga Valley also had sophomore Brittney Johns, sophomore Kayla Mongiovi and junior Emily Castronova place seventh, eighth and 10th, respectively.
To secure the win, Elizabethtown had to have its remaining two qualifying runners finish ahead of the rest of the Buckskins. The Lady Bears succeeded, though it was close. Hook came in 11th (23:12), while sophomore Emily Bonsall was 14th (24:26), 15 seconds ahead of the next Conestoga Valley runner.
Meanwhile, the boys got their first sweep of the year by beating Conestoga Valley 22-35 and Penn Manor 26-29. The latter also came down to the wire, albeit across a few individual battles. Myers won in 17:11, comfortably ahead of Comets junior Lou Lindsley and Buckskins sophomore Emmanuel Gitonga. Hartman also took fourth (17:52), followed by Penn Manor junior Graham Thomas in fifth.
The rest of the field was super packed, but the Bears were able to get enough points to win thanks to their remaining qualifiers, who all finished just three seconds ahead of the following Comets runner. Johnson placed sixth in 18:24, outlasting sophomore Jeremiah Hetrick, while English was eighth (18:44) ahead of junior Jordan Photis. Finally, Moran came in 13th (19:23), crossing before the sixth Penn Manor runner.
Elizabethtown (girls 5-1, boys 3-3) will get a 10-day break before returning to action at the Carlisle Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 28. The Bears will then go on the road to Manheim Township on Tuesday, Oct. 1; McCaskey will also be in attendance.