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Elco boys capture section crown in rout

The Raiders wrapped up an unbeaten run through Section Three on Monday with a lopsided 125-25 win at Lancaster Mennonite

The Elco boys track and field team is blessed with quality performers throughout its roster. Sprinters, hurdlers, distance runners, throwers, jumpers, vaulters - you name it, the Raiders have it.

Of course they do, they're the undisputed Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three champions.

By displaying its superior talent and depth from start to finish, Elco sewed up its first section title since 2011 and completed an unbeaten jaunt through Section Three on Monday with a dominating 125-25 win at Lancaster Mennonite.

First-year senior jumper Colton Lawrence led the way by sweeping the long jump, triple jump and high jump to produce three of the event victories, but the section-clinching triumph was not about any one individual. Rather it was the Raiders' collective effort that shined through throughout Monday's meet, as it did over the course of the regular season as a whole, which ends at 6-1 overall and a perfect 6-0 in Section Three.

In short, Elco is the section champion for more than a few reasons.

"This team is very, very talented," said senior co-captain Austin Eldridge, who captured the 400 dash and anchored the winning 4 x 400 relay team on Monday. "Last year we had kids that went to states, and I said that's just gonna carry over to this year. And we had some kids step up this year - that's the only reason we did as good as we did."

"It's pretty phenomenal to think about how they've kinda pieced themselves together on the boys' side," Elco coach Bob Miller said of the depth his squad enjoys. "It has been a really neat thing. I think our girls team is closer, but to watch our guys come together and kinda emulate the girls along the way and have that camaraderie,for the first time it feels like there is a team. I really think that helped push us through the season and continue to improve.

"It kinda removed the individuality from track, which is how section championships are won."

They're also won by having a top-flight sprinter like Ethan Anspach, who won the 100 and 200-meter dashes and anchored the winning 4 x 100 relay team. They're won with gutsy distance runners like Jared Harnish, who used a furious kick to win the 1600 and also captured the 800. They're won with pure athletes like Lawrence lending their talents, and they're won in the less-glamorous throwing events like the discus and javelin, where Tyler Horst reigned supreme on Monday.

Other individual winners on Monday were Greg Onisa (300 hurdles), Mike Reed (shot put), Jared Weaver (pole vault) and Luke Darkes (110 high hurdles), as Elco was victorious in each and every event.

"It's the first one in a while," Eldridge said with a smile. "It means a lot, actually. I didn't even run track as a freshman, but I came in thinking I would never get a section title. But now that we did, I'm really, really happy."

As is Miller, who gave a spirited post-meet speech to his team that complimented them on their unity and all-for-the-team spirit. It's a spirit that reached its peak a few weeks back, when Miller decided to scratch the Raiders' top performers from the prestigious Shippensburg Invitational in order to rest them for a key section showdown with Annville-Cleona a few days later.

"I had signed all the boys up to go to Ship," Miller said. "And when I saw Annville was that Monday, I removed them. I said, 'Listen, I'll make it up to you, but you're not going to Ship. A section championship comes before your individual stuff.' At first, it was like, 'Ah,', but then it was like 'OK, let's go win.' That was really a neat thing to see, a good sacrifice on their part."