More than 120 runners starting at the same time is bound to cause some sort of chaos, even for the most experienced runners.
For New Oxford High sophomore Aaron Gebhart, it made his attempt at medaling in the YAIAA Cross Country Championships Tuesday at John C. Rudy County Park that much more difficult.
"When the gun went off, everyone was so close and I got pushed into the first flagpole thing," Gebhart said. "I was like, 'Oh no, I am done.' I wanted to medal so bad, and thought I wasted that opportunity. That fall gave me extra motivation though throughout the race. I was angry."
He used that motivation to help catch back up to the pack and position himself into a duel with Red Lion's Caleb Gatchell. The duel went back and forth for much of the race until the last 200 yards, when Gebhart pulled away and finished with a time of 16 minutes, 24 seconds, good enough for third place.
"Usually I run in the four minutes as my first mile, and I am usually first through that point," Gebhart said. "My game plan was to slow it down today and just run a 5:15 pace. Today, I was at a 5:10. I guess the fall helped me. I might have tried to do something crazy and run too fast too soon."
South Western's Ryan Hertzog led the way for the Hanover area boys, finishing second to Dallastown's Patrick Reilly with a time of 16:20. This was the second year in a row Hertzog has earned the runner-up title.
"My goal was to come here, win and run a smart race," Hertzog said. "I did that. I ran a smart race. He (Reilly) just had a little bit more at the end."
Despite finishing second, his sights are set on next week's District 3 Championships. in which he finished runner-up in 2011.
"Over the past years, I usually went out at my normal race pace and tried to catch everyone," Hertzog said. "Since I am looking for a state medal, I have to get up there, start off fast, stay up in the group, relax, then at a point, usually when someone starts a surge, go with them."
Littlestown's Xavier Sauvageau finished fifth with a time of 16:35. Previously, Sauvageau's best time in the YAIAA Championships was 17:30.
"I am definitely very happy about my time today," he said atfter cutting off almost one minute from his previous best. " I am excited about districts."
For Biglerville's Brady Wilt, Tuesday's race was about getting back into the right mindset.
"I had two bad races this past week," Wilt said. "I really wanted to clear my head and prove to myself I could do it again before districts gets here. I wanted to come out, run strong and get out all of this negativity I had in my head this past week. I came out, and I am happy with the result."
In the girls' race, Central York senior Kelsey Ibarra won her second title -- her first came in 2010 as a sophomore -- with a time of 19:04.
Delone Catholic represented the Hanover area well with two runners finishing in the top 10.
Delone freshman Kate Mowery was the area's top finisher, coming in fifth place with a time of 19:56. This was the second time she had raced at Rudy Park. The first time was her first race of her career, a win in which she finished with a time of 20:30.
It was during the second mile that Mowery made her move to the front.
"People started to die," Mowery said. "The second mile has to be your fastest mile and you have to keep your time from the first mile, plus the hill over there gives people trouble."
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