LANDISVILLE - The big stage - or in this case, the big meet - isn't for everybody.
Some kids shrink from the challenge when the competition is at its greatest and the stakes are the highest. It just doesn't happen for them.
Cedar Crest's Ariel Jones and Hannah Woelfling clearly can't relate to such a reaction.
On Friday, during the first day of the Lancaster-Lebanon League Track and Field Championships at Hempfield, first-time L-L meet competitors Jones and Woelfling rose to the occasion and then some, turning in Lebanon County's two top performances on their way to a lofty perch on the medal stand.
Jones, a junior who competed in track and field as a freshman before sitting out last season to concentrate on basketball, snared a silver medal in the triple jump with a school-record leap of 36-9 1/2, while freshman Woelfing exceeded her previous best throw by nearly seven feet to take third in the discus with a heave of 110-3.
Also standing out on Day One was Cedar Crest boys standout Evan Horn, who finished fifth in the javelin and the triple jump and posted the second-best qualifying time in the 100-meter dash trials, and Elco's Chandelle Keller, who took fifth in the girls triple jump while also qualifying for Saturday's high hurdles finals.
But from a Lebanon County perspective, the day belonged to L-L meet newbies Jones and Woelfling.
"Coming in, we said, 'Make sure you warm up like a champion, cool down like a champion, and compete like a champion,'" said Cedar Crest coach Rob Bare, "And both those girls did that today. First league meet for both of them, and Ariel breaks the school record and improves her seed for districts. And Hannah improved her throw by nearly seven feet. A great start for our girls team this weekend."
Jones' school-record jump came on her final attempt of the day and left her just off the pace of champion Precious Reid-White of McCaskey, whose winning effort was 36-10 1/4. It also served as the high point to date of a banner season for Jones, the top seed in Saturday's high jump.
"It means a lot," said the soft-spoken Jones. "I work hard at basketball and it's my number one, but I gotta be out on the track helping them out. I didn't think I'd do this well but I'm glad I am."
Woelfling surprised herself as well, improving dramatically on a modest No. 12 seed with her sixth and final throw to outdistance all but two of the others 25 competitors - runner-up Aliyah Striver of McCaskey and highly-decorated champ Emily Stauffer of Cocalico.
"I'm happy about that, that's pretty good," Woelfling said with a laugh. "I just wanted to qualify for districts, and I think I did. I just listened to Coach (Tim) Brown. He really helped me."
Horn's medals weren't quite as shiny as his female counterparts from Cedar Crest, but his effort was still quite impressive. Unable to defend his javelin title, Horn still managed a best throw of 173-9 despite nursing a sore right elbow suffered in the East-West football all-star game a few weeks back. His long jump of 21-8 1/4 was a career-best, and came in addition to an 11.17 100-meter dash time that easily secured him a finals berth.
"He hasn't thrown the javelin for two weeks, so he was a little rusty today," Bare said of Horn. "I know next weekend (at districts) he'll be ready and rarin' to go. I started here in 1993 as the head coach, and in 23 years I'd be hard-pressed to find a better competitor. And we've had some talented kids."
Also gaining berths in Saturday's finals out of Friday's trials were Elco's Ethan Anspach ( boys 100, 200) and Luke Darkes (boys 110 high hurdles), and Cedar Crest's Luke Allwein (boys 110 high hurdles), Taylor Menser ( girls 100 high hurdles) and Destinee Holloman (girls 100 dash).
Annville-Cleona junior sprint sensation Reagan Hess opted not to compete due to a scheduling conflict with A-C's prom.
Action will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, one hour earlier than previously scheduled, because of anticipated thunderstorms Saturday afternoon.