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Arnold: YAIAA's top spring sports storylines in '16

From first-time district champions, to repeat champions, to postseason disappointment, the spring sports season had it all in 2016. Here are a few of the top storylines from the spring:

York finally has a district champion in lacrosse 

It was a long and arduous road, but York County’s lacrosse title drought finally came to an end in 2016. It was Kennard-Dale’s 12-8 win over Exeter Township in the District 3 championship game that the YAIAA finally saw a team – whether it be boys’ or girls’ lacrosse – capture district gold.

The Rams have been one of York County’s best teams in girls’ lacrosse, having made four trips to the district semifinals and one title game appearance in 2013, but up until this year no one could beat Manheim Township. Anchored by a talented crop of young players, which includes sophomores Maddie Day, Morgan Bowings and Clare Boone, Kennard-Dale was finally able to bring a title to York County.

The district title was also another sign that York lacrosse was taking another step in the right direction. With the sport still in its infancy levels on both the boys' and girls' sides of the ledger, programs took major strides in their competitiveness this season — with Kennard-Dale's title being the biggest indicator of that.

Northeastern four-peats 

The headline on last Sunday’s edition of the York Daily Record read, “Living Legends.” And after winning their fourth consecutive state title, it’s hard for anyone to argue to the contrary about Northeastern volleyball.

The program sent off their senior class – likely the best York County has ever produced – with a sweep over Ambridge to win the championship and cement their place in history. Northeastern joined elite company as just the fifth team in the sport to win four straight titles — the previous team Hempfield did it from 2001-04.

Only 17 other teams across all 23 sports in the state have ever won four consecutive titles.

What’s made the feat even more impressive has been the players that the program has been able to produce year in and year out. And the core of Bobcats squad – Reese Devilbiss, Jeff Reynolds, Matt Schaeffer, Brandon Arentz, Chris Lee, and Drew Landis – had been must see all year long.

Koons takes YAIAA by storm

Holden Koons was expected to make an impact for Dallastown tennis this season, but what he did instead was blow the rest of the league out of the water.

In his freshman season, Dallastown’s No. 1 player already has a league title to his name, a District 3 title to his name and an appearance in the PIAA state tournament under his belt. In fact, Koons’ District 3 title was the first one a freshman has won in at least 26 years. It was also the first district title that a player from the YAIAA has won since 2006.

And it hasn’t been just on the local tennis scene that Koons’ talents have been recognized. He has been a four star recruit on the Tennis Recruiting Network, is ranked second in the state among the class of 2019, and is ranked by the USTA.

Baseball has rocky playoff showing 

It was a bit of a rough run in the postseason for YAIAA teams.

The York-Adams league entered District 3 tournament with seven representatives, along with Christian School of York, and only three of those squads advanced to the next round. Fairfield, Biglerville, and Spring Grove made it to the quarterfinals, but those teams subsequently lost those games.

There were plenty of high hopes heading into the district tournament, with Dallastown coming off a dramatic win to capture the league title and Northeastern and Eastern York carrying strong pitching staffs. Dallastown, York Catholic and Christian School of York also had good pitching on their roster. Those squads had entered the tournament after good seasons as well, especially the Wildcats with a 16-3 record and CSY, which went 10-2 up until that point.

Red Lion volleyball has historic year 

When you play in the same league as Northeastern it’s easy to get overshadowed, but Red Lion’s 2016 campaign should absolutely be recognized.

Inside volleyball circles, the Lions were a team coaches expected to be competitive and Northeastern head coach Matt Wilson applauded them when they played each other during the regular season. The Lions made it to the YAIAA championship game and beat Central York during the District 3 tournament to qualify for their first trip to the state tournament in program history.

Dillon Hildebrand and Cole Brillhart helped anchor a talented Lions squad that reached the semifinals of the district tournament and lost in the first round of the state tournament.

Athletes recall their best memories from the spring

These local athletes responded about the past season via social media and during our recent All-Star photo shoots:

Cole Brillhart, Red Lion volleyball: The best moment for me this volleyball season was in districts when we beat central in three to get to states for the first time in school history.

Hannah Baddick, Gettysburg track and field: I think that my best memory of the spring season would have to be the Tim Cook invitational. That was my 2nd track meet ever and I ended up winning triple jump from the 2nd flight and PR by 5 feet from my first jump ever the prior Tuesday. I remember waking up really early that day and getting on the bus and seeing all of the really talented kids and just looking at my coach and I told him he was nuts for thinking I could actually do well there.

Jaelynn Harbold, Dallastown softball: I would say my best memory is making a really good run in districts (we finished in 4th) and making it to states. I was never a part of the softball team that went to states because I was in 8th grade the last time that happened.

Braxtin Reddinger, New Oxford lacrosse: My best on-field moment probably is scoring my 200th goal. 

Collin Mailman, York Suburban lacrosse: My favorite moment from the spring season was beating central at our home field by one. It was a super close game the entire way through and we ended up beating them on a buzzer beater. I assisted it to Mike Sipes and we scored the goal as time expired. It was my favorite because that was the first time we had ever beaten Central in lacrosse.