The York Daily Record/Sunday News presents its 2011 Division I boys' cross country all-stars:
Adam Katora, Dallastown: Katora stepped into the leadership role for the Wildcats and stepped up his game, as well. A year after finishing sixth at the YAIAA championships in 16 minutes, 50 seconds, Katora improved his time by 21 seconds and won the title in decisive fashion.
Before winning that title, Katora went undefeated during the regular dual-meet season. He finished 11th at the District 3 Class AAA meet, up from 42nd in 2010, and came in 41st at states with a time of 16:46 after missing out on that experience a year ago.
Dallastown coach Mark Noll celebrated his senior's growth and the way he set an example every day at practice.
"Adam is a quiet runner who leads by example and who provided great leadership," Noll said. "He and (fellow senior) Matt Lewis delivered the message and created a very cohesive team, a much more successful team than we anticipated."
Drew Belnick, Central York: The senior enjoyed a stellar season, capped by a fifth-place finish at the YAIAA meet in 17:12. Belnick followed that up with a 50th-place finish at districts.
Matt Croft, Red Lion: The senior helped lead the Lions to an unbeaten season. He began the year with solid performances at the Peter Geraghty Invitational (11th overall) and the Carlisle Invitational (23rd). Croft, a four-year starter for the Lions, finished the year by placing fourth at the YAIAA meet in 17:04, then coming in 17th at districts in 17:03.
Caleb Gatchell, Red Lion: The junior came in ninth at the YAIAA meet in 17:19 and then placed 34th at districts in 17:20.
Ryan Hertzog, South Western: The junior was right there with Katora most of the year but broke through at the end. Katora won the first three matchups of the year, but Hertzog topped the Wildcat in their final two meetings.
First, Hertzog improved on last year's finish at the YAIAA meet by placing second to Katora, up from fifth. Then he improved on last year's showing at districts (24th) by claiming the silver medal in 16:34. Finally, he came in 37th at states, up from 96th a year ago.
Patrick Reilly, Dallastown: The sophomore came up from the junior-high program and surprised his own coach.
"We were not sure what to expect, but Patrick is the epitome of our young runners," Noll said. "He had a phenomenal finish to the year, and we expect him to step it up again next year."
Reilly placed sixth at the YAIAA meet in 17:14 and finished 44th at districts.
Nate Stetter, Red Lion: Stetter helped set the tone as Red Lion finished an undefeated regular season with a record of 19-0 and then went on to the best finish in the coach's eight-year career.
A year after going 16-3 in the league, the Lions put it all together behind the steady leadership of senior Matt Croft.
"It was pretty nice the way the team kind of came together," Stetter said. "We had Matt out front at most of the races, then we had a lot of competition behind him. Our next four guys really jockeyed for position all year."
Juniors Caleb Gatchell, Nick McCabe and brothers Nate and Josh Pardoe were the next four, and Stetter said "from race to race, you never knew who was going to come through."
That strong quintet led the Lions to a fourth-place finish at districts, their best ever, and led to the big accomplishment: a trip to states, where Red Lion came in 16th.
"That was the kids' goal at the start of the year, and I thought we had an outside chance," said Stetter. "Now we are really stacked for next year, and we plan on doing it again."
-- M.C. Helsabeck