In the end, it wasn’t exactly the outcome that the Lebanon boys track team had hoped for, but it was enough to make coach Nick Watt and his staff incredibly proud of what the Cedars achieved in their 85-65 loss to a very good Manheim Central team Tuesday afternoon.
It was Lebanon’s only Section 2 loss this season.
“One loss is not going to define us,” Watt told his team after the loss. “It’s going to show our resolve.”
Lebanon, which opened the meet with a big victory in the 3200-meter relay with Riley Klick, Deryl Werni, Patrick Bray, and Derin Klick, got two victories from Juan Maldonado in the long jump and triple jump. The Cedars also got first-place finishes from Shaq Ortiz in the high jump, Dakota Morey in the discus, Derin Klick in in the 1600 and a Phillip Hillesheim-led sweep in the 400.
But it wasn’t enough as the Barons pulled away down the stretch, taking advantage of their depth in every event.
Watt said, “I know we had a disadvantage with numbers, and we had some kids banged up. But our kids came out and went hard, we had kids PR and doing stuff all over the place that we didn’t expect them to do.”
Even though they suffered a setback in their goal to bring the Section 2 title to Lebanon County, all is not lost.
“The section is not going to get any easier. L-S is tough, Solanco is always good, and Cocalico is back on track, so all of them are good programs,” Watt said of his next three Section 2 opponents. “We’ll see what we can do. We’ll take it meet by meet and if we win out, you never know what’s going to happen. Somebody could potentially knock off Manheim - I’ll take a share of it.”
But in between, he and the Cedars will have to shift focus to the Lebanon County meet, which has been won by Cedar Crest for the past 19 years. Watt told his club that on the heels of their individual performances today, he thinks they’ve served notice that they are going to be a contender at the April 29th event and beyond.
“The section title obviously is always a goal, but we’re going to make some noise at counties,” he said, noting that there are also individuals who can shine at districts and states as well.
And that is more than enough proof that this team is heading in the right direction, despite today’s setback to the defending Section 2 champions.