LANDISVILLE – There are two ways individuals can be compelled to run faster and fastest. One involves motivation from within, and the other results from the influence of outside sources.
Relays are the only track and field events which can fully utilize both motivations.
On a rainy Saturday at the Lancaster-Lebanon Track and Field Championships at Hempfield, a trio of Lebanon County male quartets stole the show. With Cedar Crest claiming two and Elco taking the other, locals swept all three of the relay running events at the circuit’s annual postseason meet.
All tolled, Lebanon County took home gold medals from six events at the L-L meet, and all six were won by boys.
Perhaps the most inspiring accomplishment was what the Elco boys did in the 1600-meter relay, the final event of the day. Running against much bigger schools, the Raiders’ fearless foursome of Brad Hartman, Kyle Keefer, Robert Shultz and Shawn Gordon smoked their competition.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” said Shultz. “We (Elco) only had five league championships coming into this meet. It’s just unbelievable to put our names on a banner and a record. We prayed before the race. And when we do that, good things usually happen.”
Thanks to a strong lead-off leg, the Raiders never trailed, and they seemed to lengthen their lead as the race wore on. Elco ended up winning by a comfortable 2.36 seconds over runner-up Conestoga Valley.
“We want to place in states,” said Shultz of an achievement which would be notable given the size of his school. “We knew we were in districts. This helps us with our seed at districts and gives us confidence when we run against the huge school at districts.”
Another of Shultz’s Raider teammates, Cameron Strause copped a silver medal in the long jump competition.
Meanwhile, a Cedar Crest Falcon squad finished first in the first competition of the day on Saturday, the 3200-meter relay run. A colorful contingent of Chad Bomgardner, Jared Glosser, Jordan Cruise and Willie Bragg ran to glory in a time of 8:01.31, which was just about two seconds quicker than runner-up Annville-Cleona’s Brad Bachman, Jeff Inman, Ben Mason and Shawn Wolfe covered the distance.
All by himself, Bragg had finished third in the 3200-meter run on Friday night.
“Number one, we want to go under eight minutes,” Bragg added. “We’re all really close, we’re just waiting for the perfect day. We’re going to districts and we’re going to states. You’ll see us at both because we’re determined to get there. We’re going to medal at districts and do the best we can at states.”
An entirely different Cedar Crest foursome laid claim to the sprint team competition, the 400-meter relay. Anchored by emerging speedster, junior Denzel Pierre, CC’s Damon Edwards, Jared Brandt and Peter Groff posted a 43.44 to edge Hempfield.
Earlier in the day, Pierre had sprung a mild upset by beating Black Knight Tory Long and Northern Lebanon’s Joe Vedilago to the tape in the 100-meter dash. Pierre was clocked in 10.89 seconds, Long 10.95 and Vedilago 11.00.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” said Pierre. “I really focused on getting a fast start. I felt like if I could do it, I could keep up with everyone.
“When you get into the finals you get nervous and it breaks down your form,” Pierre added. “But it’s important to keep your fundamentals.”
Pierre and Vedilago have now split four career meetings in the 100-meter dash. Their evolving rivalry took on a new significance two weeks ago when Pierre upset the Vikings senior at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships.
“I’m getting a little faster I guess,” said Pierre. “I look forward to our next battle. He’s (Vedilago) a great runner and I look forward to racing him at districts.”
“Pierre’s getting faster,” said Vedilago. “He always runs well. He’s fast. I know how good I am and how good I can be. I just don’t always get out of the blocks well.
“I’m starting to think the 100 depends on when I’m having a good day,” continued Vedilago. “The 100 is my favorite event. But the 400 is my stronger event.”
Vedilago did glide to victory lane in the 400, but he had to overcome a significant down-pour to do it. His time of 50.10 was well off his personal best, but .38 seconds faster than runner-up Elias Bogale of Conestoga Valley.
“”The 400, besides the rain, went really well,” said Vedilago. “The soaking of my shirt weighed me down. But I didn’t care. It’s (the rain) equal for everyone. I was ready for it.”
Vedilago’s teammate Marcus Disbrow’s championship in the discus was somewhat of a pleasant surprise. Disbrow had been seeded second by a significant margin to Tanner Unger of Hempfield, but his winning throw of 149-9 was three feet farther than Unger’s.
“I knew I had competition,” said Disbrow. “I was just glad to throw well. Yeah it was raining hard and it threw me off, but not a lot.
“I’ve got more left for districts,” Disbrow added. “I want to come up first and I want a PR (personal record) and I was to break my school record. It’s going to be close. It’s (the competition at districts) wide open.”
On the girls’ side of things, Falcon junior sprinter and softball player Katie Gable finished third in the 200-meter dash and fourth in the 100. Another Falcon, freshman McKenzie Shiner ran to bronze in the 3200-meter run on Friday night.
Lebanon High’s Erin Winters was second in the girls’ pole vault competition, contested Friday. And Avree Wright of Annville-Cleona took third in the shot put.
The District Three Track and Field Championships will be contested at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18.