But Shawn Wolfe and his Annville-Cleona teammates weren't taking anything for granted at the Lebanon County Cross Country Invitational on Saturday.
Wolfe and the rest of the Little Dutchmen harriers were well aware that they couldn't just show up and claim their expected championships, they had to go out and grab them.
Wolfe rolled to his first county title in a blistering 16 minutes, one second, and A-C cruised to the team crown with relative ease during the annual county event at South Hills Park.
The reigning Class AA district champ and the anchor of an Annville-Cleona squad that has captured the last two district team titles and is expected to compete for more postseason hardware later this season, Wolfe set the tone for another title Saturday. He essentially wired the field on the way to a 19-second win over impressive runner-up Calvin Conrad-Kline of Palmyra and utter domination of the rest of the field.
"It was awesome, it was really cool," Wolfe said of his first trip to the county meet winner's circle. "Because my junior year I had a lot of accomplishments I was really proud of, but I wanted to kinda step it up (this year) and that's tough to do. And our team's doing really, really well, too, and that's a personal goal of mine - to see our team do really,
Though the team competition was watered down a bit by Cedar Crest's decision to hold out some of its top runners in advance of an important regular-season meet on Tuesday, the Little Dutchmen performed at such a high level it may not have mattered who did or didn't take part on Saturday.
Steady No. 2 runner Mark Bachman clocked a stellar time of 16:53 to finish third, and Jeff Inman (17:23) and Ben Mason (17:28) followed in fourth and fifth, respectively. Phil Corle made it five Little Dutchmen in the top eight with a strong finish in 17:43, and Jonathan Zechman was 10th in 17:50.
"It was nice," Wolfe said, of the high number of his teammates who also cracked the top 10. "We've been working really hard as a team, a lot of long runs and stuff."
"The guys ran out hard, just like we've been trying to do at the beginning of the year, trying to complete our races," A-C coach Ben Wenger said. "It looks like we did today. It was a beautiful day to run. Shawn took care of business up top like he wanted to, and we came in and did what we wanted to do and got a Lebanon County championship."
Wolfe did indeed take care of business, showing no ill effects from a recently busy schedule that included last week's
"It's not that tough," Wolfe said, shrugging off any schedule concerns. "We have a good coach, he doesn't push us too crazy hard but he gets us where we need to be when we need to be there."
The runner-up to Palmyra grad Connor Strynkowski last year, Wolfe was right where he wanted and needed to be on Saturday - all alone in the winner's circle despite a quality effort from Conrad-Kline, who provided a gentle but firm push through the first two miles.
"This is just another thing to check off on the list," Wenger said of Wolfe's win. "Not that he's assuming anything, but he came in wanting to win this and he took care of business. He has his sights set high, and he has such a good determination and he puts in the work. Great kid."
Palmyra, led by Conrad-Kline, enjoyed the second-best day of the county teams, edging Cedar Crest for the runner-up spot 61 points to 68.
Max Perry, Ezra Daniel and Luke Haus nailed down the 12th through 14th spots for the Cougars, and Ross Romanoski rounded out the team effort with a 20th-place effort.
Cedar Crest placed two runners in the top 10 in Noah Redcay (sixth) and Isaiah Shiner (7th), and Elco's Jonathan Garcia rounded out the top 10 by taking ninth.
Elco also claimed victory in the all-important mascot race, with the Raider mascot edging a late-charging Cedar Crest Falcon for the top