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Throwback Thursday: Spring Grove's cross country season to remember in 1966

Think of any successful York/Adams high school sports program, and what comes to mind?

A longtime coach, like Dallastown field hockey or South Western track? Players who get big-game experience year after year, like Delone Catholic or York Catholic girls' basketball?

What doesn't come to mind is a second-year team with a first-year coach. There's no history of success, no foundation to build on. And experience, especially playoff experience, is at a premium.

Of course, there are always those dynasties that forge their own path.

In 1966 — just one year after the program started — Spring Grove's boys' cross country team claimed the ultimate trifecta, winning league, district and state championships.

That squad, led by four seniors, started a decade of dominance for the Rockets, who won 10 league titles (1966-1975).

One of those seniors was Dave Mosebrook. Here are some of his memories from the 1966 season:

"When you look at the championship banners in the Spring Grove gym, you will see cross country listed as the 1966,1967,1968,1969,1970, 1971,1972,1973,1974 and 1975 county champs. But the 1966 team is the only team to also win districts and states. You can win every dual meet going 1-2-3-4, as the four seniors, Harry Smeltz, Dick Geiger, Jeff Kaltreider, and I, Dave Mosebrook, did in 1966 in eight of 10 meets. But you cannot win districts, let alone states, without a good fifth and sixth man. Sophomore Tim Weaver and junior Walt Geiger were our fifth and sixth men in 1966. We were undefeated in league meets and began Spring Grove's 100-meet win streak.

"Our county meet was at the AMP course, which is now Harley. The AMP plant made bombs for the Vietnam War. Harry, Dick, Jeff, and I were in the lead pack of six as we headed down the final hill before we would run back up the hill to the finish line. We finished 1-2-3-4 with Harry, myself, and Dick breaking the course record. The four seniors finished within 100 yards of each other. Tim finished eighth, and Walt finished 13th. Our 1-5 differential was 38 seconds.

"Because of our dominating dual meet season, we were expected to win the county championship. But going into the District 3 meet at a golf course near Reading, we had no expectations. We had no way of comparing our times with other teams in the district.

"The course at Reading started at the bottom of a hill with a 10-foot opening and a path 600 yards up the hill. I remember coach Bob Lehr telling us as we walked the course before the meet, 'The first 10 runners into the opening will be the first 10 runners out of the opening'".

"Our plan for that day was to sprint to the opening. The four of us were successful, and we emerged from the opening as a group of four running in a pack of twelve. Coach Lehr was excited as he thought that we could finish 1-2-3-4. But there were some excellent runners in our district. Harry finished sixth. I finished eighth. Dick and Jeff finished 11th and 12th. Tim finished 28th. Our 65 points beat defending champion Exeter by six points.

"Then we headed to the state championships at the golf course at Penn State. Because we visited Penn State a number of times during our junior and senior years of high school to see Penn State run cross country, we were familiar with the course. The course was fast with a few little hills and 2.5 miles in length. It was a real cold and windy day. I remember Coach Lehr's pep talk that we were the hardest working cross country team in the state of Pennsylvania and (he told us to) go out and run your race.

"The four seniors ran as a pack, and then Harry broke away and finished 15th. Myself, Dick, and Jeff finished 22nd, 23rd, 24th. The four of us were only 11 seconds apart. Tim finished 45th, and our 77 points that day beat Riverside near Pittsburgh by five points. We were state champs. Our 1-5 differential was 37 seconds that day. Our parents were our only supporters who made the trip to Penn State that day.

"We stopped for a steak dinner on the way home from Penn State. Because Spring Grove had an afternoon football game at Red Lion, we were able to get word to them that we won states.

"There were signs with streamers in the front of the school with all our names on it. The school band and a large number of students waited an hour and a half for us to arrive. But they left when we did not arrive back to the school until after 5 p.m. However, they did spray paint, "WE WON STATES" on a white sheet and ran it up the flagpole."

Have a York/Adams high school sports memory to share? Email Sports Editor Lyzz Jones at or call 771-2058.

About Dave Mosebrook

High school: Spring Grove (1967)

Claim to fame: In 1966, he helped the Rockets win the league, district (Class B) and state (Class AA) championships.

College: Ran cross country, track at Lock Haven (1971); Grace Theological Seminary (1975)

Fast facts: Mosebrook coached track at Christian School of York for 10 years and started the cross country team. HeI was a PIAA track official for 17 years, retiring in 2012. He also was the starter referee for Susquehannock for his last nine years of officiating.