Delone Catholic: A district three-peat, and the end of a District 3 drought
Between the 10 Hanover-Adams area high schools, there are 179 athletic teams. Among those 179 teams, just two won district titles during the 2014-2015 season. Both wore black and gold and hailed from McSherrystown.
Delone Catholic brought home a district crown in softball and another in girls' cross country.
For the girls' cross country team, it was the Squirettes' third straight District 3 Class A crown — a feat that had never been accomplished by a girls' team at Delone. In the spring, the softball team ended a 16-year district title drought and earned retribution from a 2014 championship game defeat.
"Our athletic program continues to be very competitive, and it all starts with our coaching staffs and the countless hours they put in," Delone athletic director Dave Lawrence said. "Both teams (softball and cross country) have girls who put in the extra time to improve the sports they are involved in."
Run to a three-peat
The cross country team's success came as little surprise to head coach R.C. Zinn and his staff.
"We knew we had a majority of our top runners returning from the 2012 and 2013 district championship teams, and the girls had great leadership from their seniors and upperclassmen," Zinn said. "We all hoped and thought we had a chance at the beginning of the year."
Led by GameTimePA.com all-stars Kate Mowrey and Leanne Sneeringer, the Squirettes went 14-6 and won the YAIAA Division III title for the third straight season. They edged York Catholic, which also gave Delone a fight to the finish in the district-title race. After finishing fourth at the YAIAA meet, Mowrey took silver at Class A districts with a time of 20:35 — just nine seconds out of first. Two other Squirettes finished in the top 10 — Sneeringer (fourth) and Alyssa Alberghini (seventh).
The girls and coaches were nervous while awaiting the results after the race, Zinn said, but once they found out they won the team title, the mood quickly changed.
"I hit refresh on my phone so many times," Zinn said in October. "I knew it was going to be close. The coaches were as nervous as the runners were. The girls were sad but then were really excited when they found out they won."
The team's reaction after finding out the Squirettes had won and qualified for the PIAA championships is a moment Zinn said he will never forget.
"The happy tears and the excitement when the girls realized they were going to states as a team and they had won the district championship again is something that sticks with me," he said. "The culmination of hard work in the summer and early season they did together for that moment really became relief and joy after they got the results."
Mowrey said that for most of the season the Squirettes relied on their middle runners to beat a team. However, on that breezy, 45-degree day in Hershey, Mowrey and Leanne Sneeringer were the ones who had to come up big for their team. A freshman, Sneeringer turned in a fourth-place performance.
"We just thought of all the hard work we put in this summer, in training camp and during the season," said Mowrey, a junior. "And it paid off."
Ending a drought
Softball coach Don Smith admitted he was surprised this year's squad ended the program's 16-year title drought.
But the Squirettes caught a few breaks, he said, and hit their stride late in the season. After back-to-back losses in mid-April, Delone won eight in a row before falling to Central York in the YAIAA title game.
Led by a trio of juniors — Shelbee Holcomb (.762 average, 10 home runs, 49 RBIs), Katie Laughman (.500 average, 5 home runs, 27 RBIs) and Cassie Rickrode (13-4, 1.95 ERA, 100 strikeouts, .538 average, 5 home runs, 39 RBIs) — Delone entered the district tournament as the No. 1 team in Class AA.
Rickrode surrendered just two earned runs in three district playoff games while Delone outscored its opponents 22-4, capped by a 10-3 championship victory against Kutztown.
"It's so big for us," said Laughman, who was less than a year old the last time Delone softball won a district title. "We wanted to come out even stronger and come out on top this time to get the title. And we've got it now. We're all so happy to make history."
Two impressive Squirette teams with impressive seasons. Now there are two shiny, new trophies to add to the collection outside Sheppard Memorial Gymnasium.
While Delone Catholic managed to bring home Adams County's only two district titles, the Squire(tte)s came close to bringing home a few more. Here are a few of their near-misses worthy of mentioning:
Girls' volleyball: Lost in the district championship
Boys' cross country: Finished third at districts
Football: Lost in the district semifinals
Wrestling: Finished fourth at districts
Girls' basketball: Finished fourth at districts