SHIPPENSBURG - After the final handoff of the 4 x 800 boys AAA relay at the PIAA Track & Field Championships on Saturday, Ryun Holder was in third place.
There was plenty of ground to make up, but as the senior came into the final turn he was less than a step behind Cumberland Valley's Alec Kunzweiler, both vying for first place.
The crowd rose to its feet and collective crescendo echoed through Seth Grove Stadium.
As they neared the finish line, Holder seemed to overtake Kunzweiler. Both dove to cross the finish line and it wasn't apparent which runner broke the plane first.
"I thought we won," Chambersburg's Nick Rotz said. "I was jumping up and down going estatic."
Then the announcement came: the Eagles won the race by the slimmest of margins, three hundreths of a second, despite the Trojan relay breaking their own school ecord by nearly six second with a 7:43.84 finish.
"I couldn't be more proud of the group," Chambersburg coach Chris Monheim said. "They ran a time that will stand up with the top times in the nation and lost. They all ran their best races of the season on the same day and it's hard to get that to happen."
Rotz started the race with a distinct pace and was in fourth place after the initial 400 but pulled away from the pack during the second lap to give the Trojans a decent lead. His split was 1:54.2 seconds, a personal record.
He handed it to Adam Harriger, who maintained the Trojans' position at the front
Then it was on Holder.
Holder paced himself through the first lap, gaining one spot before turning on the jets, and it couldn't have gone much better.
He finished with a 1:51.4 split, a personal record, and probably a half a hair away from first place.
"I just slowly started feeling my legs give out," Holder said. "That's not the first time we've actually fallen together. That happened at indoors, so it was a little bit of deja vu, I guess. That time I got him and this time he held me off. It was a great race."
Still, a second-place finish at states is something the team was proud of.
"Once we saw (Holder on the final turn), he was in contention," Harriger said. "Second's still amazing. Second at states is just crazy."
"I was never upset with Ryun. He did the best he could," Rotz said. "He PR'd by a lot. It was a great race. I couldn't ask for anything more from my team."
Monheim had a photo of the finish and even then it was hard to tell who the winner was.
"When the scoreboard flashed and it said that we lost I was disappointed," Monheim said. "But it didn't take me long to get over the fact that they ran a 7:43. It was probably the most exciting race these people will ever see."
Colin Stevens can be reached at email@example.com and 262-4819, or on Twitter @ColinStevens06.