Either way, it was too close to call at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Cross Country Championships held at Ephrata Middle School on Tuesday afternoon.
In a thrilling conclusion to the boys' race, Lancaster Mennonite's Jared Schatz edged Penn Manor's Harrison Schettler to capture the L-L League championship. Sprinting shoulder-to-shoulder down the stretch, both runners clocked in at 16:30. But Schatz, by the slimmest of margins, secured gold as Schettler lost control at the tape, falling head over heels across the finish line.
On the girls' side, Penn Manor's Greta Lindsley remained perfect in the L-L, cruising to victory in 19:14. A sophomore, Lindsley has yet to lose a varsity league race. She defended her crown by pulling away from Elizabethtown's Olivia Esbenshade (19:37) and Manheim Township's Emily McBride (19:44).
Locally, Cedar Crest sophomore Haleigh Echard crossed in fifth place, clocking a 20:10 for the county's fastest girls' time. Meanwhile, Annville-Cleona's Shawn Wolfe set the boys' pace, registering a 16:52 for eighth place.
From a team standpoint, the defending champion Falcon boys finished in fourth place (125 points) and A-C claimed sixth with 204 points. Manheim Township (98), Hempfield (111) and Warwick (121) rounded out the top three. This was the first time in four years Cedar Crest competed without Alex Galli, the 2010 champion who is currently a freshman at the University of Kansas.
As for the girls' team standings, Manheim Township (62), Elizabethtown (112) and Hempfield (146) finished first, second and third, respectively. The Cedar Crest girls' came in seventh with 199 points.
For Echard, she is hoping to use her fifth-place performance as a springboard for the District Three meet, set for next Wednesday at Hershey. As a freshman, Echard took silver to Lindsley at the league meet, rolling through the 5K course in 19:31. She followed with a fifth at districts and 50th at the PIAA state meet.
"That was kind of my plan, get to the front and stay there. (20:10) is pretty good compared to the other times that I've had this season," Echard said. "I just want to improve my times from this year and last year and to place somewhere around where I did last year. I'm just getting up there and getting back into everything."
As for Wolfe, the pony-tailed junior was one of five county boys to finish in the top 20. Teammate Mark Bachman was close behind, finishing in 13th at 17:08.
"Yeah, I'm pretty happy, but I could have done a little better," said Wolfe. "Even though my time was faster, I thought (the course) was a little slower this year. It was a little sloppy in the beginning.
Elco's Drew Gerberich, who led the race briefly at the start, ended in 15th at 16:11. Cedar Crest's duo of Willy Bragg (16th) and Bryce Ebersole (18th) also cracked the top 20.
"I think the general consensus from (our) guys, and which you normally are going to hear, is that they could've done better," said A-C rookie head coach Ben Wenger. "Just going off of feeling, I think some guys expected to be up further.
"We sat down at the beginning of the year and said we want to do well at the league meet. But does it mean anything to us? No. And that's not to say we didn't put our best effort out. But our training, our mindset is districts."
The Dutchmen will be looking to repeat as the District Three Class AA boys' champions next Wednesday. A year ago at Hershey, Bachman and Wolfe took third and fourth, respectively.
"We want to try and get the team title, and I want to get in the top two or three," added Wolfe. "We have a lot of strong juniors on the team, so it doesn't make a huge difference (not having any seniors). It helps for next year, we should have a strong team."
Wolfe also commented on the amazing finish between Schatz and Schettler on Tuesday.
"The league's amazing this year, everyone ran great," he said. "They put a little electronic thing in your shoe for when you cross the line. It's kind of cool, you don't have to worry about taking a Popsicle sick."
LANCASTER-LEBANON LEAGUE û CHAMPIONSHIPS û at Ephrata Middle School û BOYS û Team Results -1.
11. Elizabethtown 286; 12. Ephrata 311; 13. McCaskey 313; 14. Manheim Central 315; 15. Cocalico 344; 16. Elco 417; 17. Lampeter-Strasburg 482; 18. Lancaster Catholic 533; 19. Donegal 550; 20. Lebanon 621; 21. Northern Lebanon 689.
Individual Results -1. Jared Schatz (LM) 16:30; 2. Harrison Schettler (PM) 16:30; 3. John Ausel (SOL) 16:38; 4. Elliot Hirsch (MT) 16:47; 5. Joey Warner (MT) 16:49; 6. Nate Kreider (ET) 16:51; 7. Tyler Sensenig (EPH) 16:51; 8. Shawn Wolfe (A-C) 16:52; 9. Jonathan Bitner (PM) 16:58; 10. James Martin (GS) 16:58.
11. Connor Zimmerman (MT) 17:00; 12. Ben Mueller (WAR) 17:07; 13. Mark Bachman (A-C) 17:08; 14. Connor Lehr (HEM) 17:11; 15. Drew Gerberich (ELCO) 17:11; 16. Will Bragg (CC) 17:11; 17. Andrew Birk (HEM) 17:11; 18. Bryce Ebersole (CC) 17:13; 19. Andrew Groff (HEM) 17:15; 20. Louis Kester (MT) 17:16.
27. Cody Lloyd (CC) 17:25; 29. Daniel Neiswender (CC) 17:26; 35. Shaun Ditzler (CC) 17:34; 37. Ben Mason (A-C) 17:37; 55. Isaac Kramer (CC) 17:59; 71. Phil Corle (A-C) 18:21; 72. Jonathan Garcia (ELCO) 18:22; 75. Jon Zechman (A-C) 18:24; 78. Noah Redcay (CC) 18:27; 87. Zach Shirk (ELCO) 18:37.
91. Damien Mestizo (LEB) 18:40; 92. Zach Miller (CC) 18:41; 95. Jeff Inman (A-C) 18:49; 97. Carlos Rivera (LEB) 18:50.
GIRLS û Team Results -1. Manheim Township 62; 2. Elizabethtown 112; 3. Hempfield 146; 4. Garden Spot 158; 5. Penn Manor 161; 6. Solanco 174; 7. Cedar Crest 199; 8. Ephrata 273; 9. Conestoga Valley 278; 10. McCaskey 279; 11. Warwick 300; 12. Cocalico 309; 13. Lancaster Mennonite 318; 14. Lampeter-Strasburg 352; 15. Elco 377; 16. Lancaster Catholic 416; 17. Annville-Cleona 472; 18. Manheim Central 514; 19. Donegal 553.
Individual Results -1. Greta Lindsley (PM) 19:14; 2. Olivia Esbenshade (ET) 19:37; 3. Emily McBride (MT) 19:44; 4. Danae Peters (MC) 20:04; 5. Haleigh Echard (CC) 20:10; 6. Danielle Atkinson (LAC) 20:10; 7. Julia Murray (MT) 20:13; 8. Jillian Eberly (SOL) 20:16; 9. Kara Mueser (ET) 20:18; 10. Chloe Mattilio (LM) 20:18.
11. Natalie Connell (HEM) 20:29; 12. Madeline Jones (GS) 20:38; 13. Katie Solomon (ET) 20:38; 14. Rachel Cairns (SOL) 20:44; 15. Kayla Robertson (MT) 20:45; 16. Riley Stutz (MT) 20:45; 17. Meghan Maisano (PM) 20:46; 18. Kim Campbell (HEM) 20:47; 19. Natalie Crum (SOL) 20:50; 20. Chloe Corkery (McC) 20:50.
35. Erica Bachman (CC) 21:33; 36. Brittany Ulrich (LEB) 21:34; 44. Olivia Hess (CC) 21:45; 45. Rachel Baker (ELCO) 21:46; 50. Megan Doris (CC) 21:50; 63. Shelby Dove (A-C) 22:15; 68. Katrina Diehm (CC) 22:33; 69. Abby Dundore (ELCO) 22:33; 70. Jessica Meyer (CC) 22:34; 77. Sophia Safford (A-C) 22:39; 85. Emily White (A-C) 22:50; 87. Adrienne Yoder (CC) 22:53; 96. Kayla Harnish (ELCO) 23:13.