LEBANON – It truly is one of the most amazing streaks currently going on in Lebanon County athletics. And part of what makes it so special is because it’s been accomplished against Lebanon County competition.
On Saturday afternoon at Lebanon High School, the Cedar Crest boys extended their own record of team championships at the Lebanon County Track and Field Meet to 16 in-a-row. Led by some surprising performances by their up-and-coming athletes, the Falcons easily cruised by runner-up Palmyra, 201 team points to 125.
Northern Lebanon was third with 99 points and Elco was fourth with 73, followed by Lebanon and Annville-Cleona.
“It really is an amazing streak,” said Rob Bare, who as Cedar Crest’s head coach is the one individual most responsible for the streak. “Depth wins championships. There are some really good Lebanon County teams. Every program is doing something right. We take great pride in this. You don’t know how hard it is to win 16 in-a-row.
“We don’t talk a whole lot about the streak, except once a year- the day before the County Meet,” continued Bare. “We can call this ‘Sweet 16.’ No one wants to be the one who ends the streak.”
“The boys wanted to knock off Crest,” said Palmyra head coach Dan Byrd. “They’ve (the Falcons) won it every year forever. One of these years we’re going to get Cedar Crest.”
While the Falcons were shining as a unit, Northern Lebanon senior sprinter Joe Vedilago was starring individually. Vedilago was a near-unanimous selection by the coaches as the meet’s Outstanding Male Athlete, after winning the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes, finishing second in the 100-meter dash and anchoring the Vikings’ runner-up 400-meter relay team.
“I’m pretty content. I’m alright with everything that went on,” said Vedilago. “After the 100, I was trying to get my head straight. It was the first time I was second all year and it was not too good of a time.
“We’re going through a section (Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League) championship right now,” Vedilago added. “But when you come to a county meet, you’re going against multiple schools, and it’s different than a dual meet with all the depth.”
Vedilago ran respectable times of 22.3 in winning the 200-meter dash and 49.5 in capturing the 400. But it may have been the one that got away that stuck with him most.
In the 100-meter dash, Vedilago was neck-and-neck with Cedar Crest’s Denzell Pierre for about half the race, before Pierre established a modest lead. Pierre had enough to hold off Vedilago at the end. Pierre was clocked in 10.9, compared to Vedilago’s 11.0.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Vedilago. “Pierre just got the better of me. He ran a 10.9 and I heard that was his best time. He just got the better of me. Congrats to him.
“I really want to place at states in the 100 and 400,” Vedilago continued. “I want to get my 100 time down to 10.5 by then. And I want my 400 time to be in the low 48s or in the mid 48s.”
“He’s a hardworker. He’s fast, strong, athletic. There’s no fear in him,” said Bare of Vedilago. “He’s the real deal. He’s one of the best 400-meter runners in the state. It’ll be nice to see him graduate.
“Coming in, it wasn’ ‘beat Vedilago’,” Bare continued. “It was ‘do what we need to do as a sprinter.’ I saw the preliminaries and I thought, ‘maybe this is the day Denzell beats Vedilago.'”
The Falcons’ balanced effort was spearheaded by hurdler Mitchell Weaver, who claimed the 110 highs and 300 intermediates. Cedar Crest also won two of the three relay events, as Jared Brandt, Peter Groff, Damon Edwards and Pierre collaborated over 400 meters and Chad Bomgardner, Jordan Cruise, Jared Glosser and Willie Bragg took first in the 3200-meter event.
Glosser also finished first in the 800-meter run, while freshman teammate Evan Horn was the surprise winner of the javelin.
“Right now, we’re riding a wave of success,” said Bare. “We’re continuing to get better and better each week. Today we got better. We’ve truly taken steps forward. We’re healthy and we’re getting hot right now.
“There were some tough years in there (during the streak),” Bare added. “In 1999, Palmyra was district champion and we were second, but we beat them at this meet. Last year we were fortunate to win it. This year we were a little more comfortable coming in, and we really used our depth.”
The Cougars left their mark in the field and through the legs of distance runner Calvin Conrad-Kline. Conrad-Kline, the only other recipient of a vote for Male Outstanding Athlete’, claimed the 1600- and 3200-meter runs.
Palmyra’s K.J. Williams won both weight events, the shot put and discus throw, while Cougar jumper Eric Romberger captured the long and triple. The third of the leaping events, the high jump, went to Brad Mackey of Palmyra.
“For the boys, Calvin Conrad-Kline has been awesome in the 16 and 32,” said Byrd. “We just came off a really hard meet with Lower Dauphin, and he came back today and did a great job. Eric Romberger for us won the long and triple jumps. He’s not new this year, but he’s really stepped up as a senior.
“K.J. Williams is just an outstanding young man,” added Byrd. “He’s been doing well in those two events.”
In a bit of an upset, the Elco team of Brad Hartman, Kyle Keefer, Chris Gilbertson and Shawn Gordon were crowned County champs in the 1600-meter relay run. And the pole vault competition went to Northern Lebanon’s Derek DiAngelis.