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Lebco athletes to shine at district track

Lebanon County track and field athletes won a combined seven individual or relay championships at last weekend's Lancaster-Lebanon League and Mid-Penn Conference meets.

And that came despite the absence of the county's top performer, Annville-Cleona sprinting and jumping sensation Reagan Hess, who elected not to compete at the L-L event.

With Hess expected to be back in action this weekend, one wonders how much more local competitors can accomplish when they descend on Shippensburg University on Friday and Saturday for the District 3 Championships.

The answer? Quite a bit, probably.

With that in mind, here are five things to look for this weekend at Ship as county track and fieldsters go for the gold - and a whole bunch of other medals.

Championship contenders

Being seeded No.1 in your respective event doesn't guarantee you a gold medal, but it doesn't hurt, either. This weekend, Lebanon County athletes will have the proud distinction- and pressure - of owning five No. 1 seeds.

Hess, a junior, will have three of them all to herself, earning the top spot in the 100 and 200-meter dashes and the long jump in girls Class AA. In addition, she shares a fourth No. 1 seed in the 4 x 100 meter relay with Tori Malloy, Timeshah Clark and Veronica Merone and alternates Morgan Zimmerman and Angela Fair.

The county's fifth top seed goes to Lebanon's Derin Klick, who's the man to beat in the Class AAA boys 800 meters after winning that event in dominating fashion at the Lebanon County and L-L meets.

There are certainly other county athletes capable of making it to the top of the medal stand, but Hess and Klick are the best bets heading into the weekend.

Rapid Relays 

In addition to the A-C girls, keep an eye on the Cedar Crest boys 4 x 800 team of Bryce Vukovich, Matt Royer, Nick Blandy and Jesse Cruise in AAA, where they are seeded second on the heels of last week's L-L title, as well as the Falcon girls' 4 x 100 quartet of Taylor Menser, Ariel Jones, DeAsia Holloman and Destinee Holloman, who set the county record a few weeks back but sat out the L-L meet because of an injury to DeAsia Holloman.

 And don't forget about the Elco boys 4 x 400 team of Ryan Rolon, Blaine Troutman, Colton Lawrence and Austin Eldridge, the two-time L-L champs. The Raiders are only seeded 13th, but have shown an ability to rise to the occasion in the past. It wouldn't be a surprise for them to do so again.

Keeping up with Jones

Cedar Crest's Ariel Jones is experiencing the track and field postseason for the first time as a junior, but you wouldn't know it based on her performances last week at the L-L meet.

Jones, as gifted a female athlete as there is in Lebanon County, struck gold twice at leagues, winning the high jump and long jump on the same day and earning a silver medal in the triple jump.

Because of that and her relay spot, Jones is a legit contender to leave Ship with four AAA medals. Though not seeded first in anything, she is no worse than seventh (with the 4 x 100 team) in any of the four events, and as high as fourth in the high jump.

Soaring to the stars

Well, maybe not that high, but Lebanon County pole vaulters figure to get up there pretty good in boys AAA, where three county representatives - Lebanon's Jesse Brownstein, Huy Luu, and Northern Lebanon's Damian DiAngelis -  are seeded in the top 10.

Luu leads the way at No. 5 with a best vault of 13-9, while L-L champ Brownstein is 8th at 13-6 and 2015 L-L titleholder DiAngelis is 10th at 13 feet even.

All three will be hard-pressed to beat No. 1 seed Gregory Potter of Red Lion, who's cleared 15 feet this season, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see all three on the medal stand.

Javelin giants

As much as county pole vaulters could excel this weekend, they figure to receive some competition for notoriety from the area's javelin throwers.

Cedar Crest's Evan Horn is the reigning boys AAA champ after edging Palmyra's Alex Hoffsmith on his final throw last season. The two are seeded third and fifth, respectively, in a deep field that also includes No. 10 Dakota Leonhard of Northern Lebanon, who's also seeded fifth in the shot put.

Meanwhile, in boys AA, Annville-Cleona's Matt Light and Cameron Hoch are seeded second and fourth,  and Palmyra sophomore Kirstin West is fourth in girls AAA after capturing the Mid-Penn championship last week.