Maddie McLain from Eastern York and Emily Schuler from Dallastown aren't friends or division rivals, but have formed a relationship based on skill and respect. Ryan T Provencher
It was unseasonably warm on Tuesday afternoon for the YAIAA cross country championships, but that didn’t slow down the runners on the course at Gettysburg High School.
Patrick Jacobson from Dallastown won the boys’ meet, finishing in 17 minutes, 1 second; Eastern York’s Maddie McLain won the girls' race in 18:51.
For Jacobson, it was a continuation of a successful season as the senior led the Wildcats to a Division I title. While his time on Tuesday was one of the best of his season, he felt the conditions had an effect on his race from the blast of the starting gun until the very end.
When the race began, Jacobson watched as Bermudian Springs' Chad Long (second-place finisher 17:06) bolted ahead to stake an early lead. Jacobson knew that trying to keep up right out of the gate on a hot day would spell disaster for him.
“I don’t typically run well in the heat, so figured I should probably stay back the first mile or so,” he said.
The Dallastown senior also knew how to approach the Gettysburg course after having run it multiple times since he was a sophomore. That familiarity with the course allowed him to remain calm and trust his abilities to catch Long.
He noted that his knowledge of running in YAIAA championship meets in the past helped him keep his composure in the early stages of the race.
“I’m definitely a lot more experienced,” Jacobson said. “I understand that it’s longer than just a mile, and I have time to catch people.”
Eventually, Jacobson and teammate Bryce Gable (fourth, 17:10) caught up to Long, and with about half a mile to go Jacobson had put enough distance between himself and the field to win.
Ben Kelly (17:10) from Northeastern finished just in front of Gable to take home the bronze.
In the girls’ race, Maddie McLain was chased closely by Dallastown freshman Emily Schuler (second, 19:01) for the entire course. York Catholic's Katelyn MacDougall (19:43) placed third.
At the 1-mile mark, McLain had a comfortable 6-second lead over Schuler, but in another mile that would change. When the pair reached the 2-mile mark, Schuler had cut the gap and trailed McLain by just two seconds.
“Once we hit the 2 1/2-mile mark I could hear her breathing on me,” McLain said.
Just as Jacobson had done in the boys’ meet, McLain used the last half mile of the race to break away from her pursuers, but it was not an easy finish mentally for the Eastern York junior.
“The last 800 [meters], Maddie Ferner, that’s where she caught me last year, so I just thought, ‘OK, if I go there I’ll win if I don’t I lose,’” McLain said. “The last tenth of a mile I just gave my all and was just like, ‘OK, it’s now or never,’ so that’s when I just slowly pulled away from [Schuler] a bit.”
Schuler helped lead Dallastown to a perfect 23-0 record during the regular season, and the Wildcats continued their dominance on Tuesday. While no official awards were presented for team results, Dallastown took first place, defeating runner-up York Suburban, 38-94.
For the boys, York Suburban was able to edge out Dallastown, 53-88, thanks to three top-10 finishes by three Trojan runners. Josh Kerr (17:17) finished sixth, Peter Wagner (17:26) finished seventh and Jarrett Raudensky (17:36).