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BY JEFF FALK

NEWVILLE – Some came as contenders and left as champions.

Some came as teammates and left as individuals.

Some came as runners and left as racers.

If you leave it all out on the course, you’re going to finish on empty.

Saturday, under change-able skies at Big Spring High School, Annville-Cleona junior Braetan Peters’ Class A individual championship highlighted Lebanon County’s mostly positive outing at the District Three Cross Country Championships. After finishing second as a sophomore a year ago, Peters closed the deal this time around.

Peters easily won the Class A girls’ race, by some 33 seconds, while teammate Cassi Clemson ran as the runner-up, giving the Little Dutchmen a rare and impressive one-two District Three finish. Peters and Clemson captured two of the eight medals won by Lebanon County competitors at the district meet, and secured two of the five PIAA Cross Country Championship bids earned by local racers.

The state cross country meet will be contested over the Giant Center/Parkview course in Hershey on Saturday, November 7th.

“I’m just so grateful,” said Peters. “I was looking at these athletic people and trying to figure out a plan. Over the summer, I had no idea what we were going to do (because of the COVID-19 crisis). We knew our school could shut down at any moment.

“Cassi and I were really hoping we could go to states as a team,” added Peters. “But overall, I thought we did good.”

Peters broke from the rest of the 61-competitor field around the halfway mark of the 3.1-mile contest. Though Clemson went with her to a point, Peters continued to build her lead throughout the race.

Peters posted a winning time of 20:08.4.

“I knew I was going to go out with the Delone Catholic girl (senior Julia O’Brien),” said Peters. “But when we started, I didn’t see her. Cassi and I started running together.

“I knew Cassi was with me for a lot of the race,” continued Peters. “But at one point I was like, ‘Where are they at?’ Nobody was there. So I just tried to focus on my race.”

Also enjoying outstanding days were Annville-Cleona senior Jack Tshudy, Elco senior Trenton Brubaker and Raider sophomore Isabel Zwally.

Tshudy garnered a district medal and punched his ticket to states by coming in ninth in the boys’ Class AA race, while Brubaker was awarded the final medal in the same Class AA competition. Zwally was a rewarding 15th in the girls’ Class AA run.

In Class AAA, the Cedar Crest boys’ enjoyed a solid outing, spearheaded by the efforts of juniors Ryan Wolfe and Luke Hinegardner. Wolfe took home some 13th-place hardware and qualified for the PIAA Championships, while Hinegardner was 16th.

Palmyra senior Jakolby Fackler came in a spot behind Wolfe in 14th place, and also moved on to the Class AAA state meet.

“Ryan ran really well,” said Cedar Crest head coach Brandon Risser. “He beat some really good runners. He’s starting to view himself as one of the front-runners. He went for it. He battled. It wasn’t a home run for the boys today, but it was a good, gritty, solid effort. I’m proud of these guys.

“It was a good day,” Risser continued. “It was a pretty good race. Not everything went our way, but we did have some guys out there who stepped up. We made it to October 31st and we had some guys out there competing hard. With a season like this, we’ll take that.”

The Cedar Crest boys finished third as a team.

On the girls’ side of Class AAA, Falcon senior Gwyneth Young ran 24th and missed out on both a district medal and a trip to states. Young had finished as the Class AAA runner-up in each of her past two appearances at districts, and was a three-time state qualifier.

“I am very proud of everything that Gwyneth Young has accomplished for Cedar Crest cross country,” said Risser. “Today might have not gone the way we hoped, but she is a great young lady.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

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