An up and coming Lebanon High boys track and field team has some big goals this spring, bigger than it's had in quite some time.
The Cedars' goals are so large in fact, that they were willing to sacrifice a potential non-league victory over crosstown rival Cedar Crest to reach them.
Because of that, Wednesday's matchup between Lebanon and Cedar Crest at Earl Boltz Stadium wasn't all that it could have been. With an eye toward Tuesday's showdown against Manheim Central in a meet that could decide the Section 2 title, the Cedars rested some of their top performers and moved others out of their specialty events in what would become a 97-53 Cedar Crest victory.
Also on Wednesday, the Cedar Crest girls rolled to victory, besting Lebanon by a lopsided 129-16 margin.
Now 3-1 and two weeks away from taking a shot at its 20th straight Lebanon County title, Cedar Crest, led by senior Jesse Cruise on Wednesday, could well have secured the same type of victory even if Lebanon had gone all out. But the Cedars' decision to pass up instant gratification for a shot at a championship left the eventual outcome Wednesday in little doubt even before the meet began.
"Obviously, we wanted to compete. It's a big rivalry with Cedar Crest," said Lebanon assistant Tommy Pearson, subbing for head coach Nick Watt. "But we have a big one on Tuesday against Manheim Central, so we rested some guys and ran some guys in some off events to get ready for Tuesday. The big thing is health, but the guys that came out here competed hard, like we asked of them. But the big goal is Tuesday."
Cedar Crest coach Rob Bare was understanding of the Cedars' approach and maybe even a bit relieved, given how his pre-meet calculations played out.
"They did the smart thing, making sure their kids are ready and raring to go on Tuesday," Bare said. "It was gonna be a barn burner, to the end. I think you're talking 78-72, either way. It was gonna be close. Lebanon's got awesome front runners, they would have won a ton of events today."
As it turned out, the Cedars (3-1, 3-0 Section 2) still won 7 of the 18 events, led by Juan Maldonado's victories in the long jump and triple jump. Derin Klick (400 dash), Khalique Washington (shot put), Dakota Morey (discus), Blaine Wike (pole vault) and Shaq Ortiz (high jump) also won events, but Cedar Crest superior depth was the story of Wednesday's encounter.
As noted, Cruise led the way, anchoring the winning 3200 relay, taking the 1600 and also sailing to victory in a rare appearance in the 200 dash. But it was a team effort for Crest (2-1 Section 1) and then some, as it swept all three relays, the 110 hurdles, 100 dash and 3200 meters while also getting wins from Devon Bernard (110 hurdles), Blake Thomson (100 dash), Nick Felty (300 hurdles), Adam Wolfe (800), Jake Barrett (3200), and Greg Munnion (javelin).
"We always tell our kids, depth wins championships," Bare said. "If you have front runners, that's great but in those years you don't have front runners you gotta develop some depth and I think we're starting to develop some really good depth."
The Cedars don't boast as much depth, but as Bare noted they're blessed with a good number of top-notch athletes and competitors, some of whom had to be convinced the approach to Wednesday's meet was for the best.
"I think some kids really wanted to compete," Pearson said. "And that's great, that's the mentality you need and that's the mentality you want to have to win."
In the girls' meet, Ariel Jones led the way for Crest, winning the long jump, triple jump and high jump, while DeAsia Holloman (100, 300 hurdles) and Shayla Bonzelet (200, 400) each won two events.