BY JEFF FALK
Here’s a suprise. The Cedar Crest boys’ won the team title at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships.
Seriously. No sarcasm intended. Crest never saw this one coming.
The Falcons were quite taken aback by their 15th consecutive team crown on Saturday afternoon at Lebanon High School. It just made the celebration all the more spontaneus and animated.
Cedar Crest edged Palmyra by a mere eight-and-a-half team points – 170.5 to 162 – to continue its dominance at the County Meet, but not before a recount re-affirmed it. Earlier in the day, Falcon boss Rob Bare had questioned whether or not his squad had complied enough team points to keep one of the most impressive scholastic streaks in Lebanon County intact.
Annville-Cleoana was a distant third, followed by Elco, Northern Lebanon and Lebanon.
“One person ran over to us and said, ‘We won!’,” said Bare, whose program has now captured 17 of the last 19 County crowns. “I said, ‘Don’t pull my leg. They might want to recount the points.’ I had the meet at like 168-151 (in favor of Palmyra), but I stopped keeping track during the meet.
“In 1999, Palmyra was the district champ (in AA) and we were runner-up (in AAA),” Bare added. “And we may have beaten them by three or four points (at the County) meet. Last year, we beat them by nine points.”
“It was very close,” said Palmyra head coach Dan Byrd. “We were hoping to win it. We wanted to give Cedar Crest a run, and we did. Our guys were focused on trying to win.”
Almost as much of a surprise as Cedar Crest was Northern Lebanon sprinter Joe Vedilago garnering the male Outstanding Athletie award. Not that Vedilago didn’t turn in a spectacular performance with three individual wins. But Elco leaper Nate Litschi out did him in the win category with four.
“Coming in, I expected some good competition, which there was,” said Vedilago. “The great thing was that it pushed me harder.”
Vedilago won all three sprints, all in relatively comfortable fashion. Vedilago’s 49.3 in his favorite event, the 400-meter burst, established a new Lebanon County standard.
“Actually, I was targetting that record,” said Vedilago. “I was looking to win the 400 and 200, and my expectation in the 100 was to be second. But I ended up coming through with the victory.
“I like all of those events,” Vedilago added. “But my favorite has got to be the 400. It’s the most tiring, but the one I like the most.”
Litschi, a state-caliber hurdler, shown nearly as brightly. He captured the 110 high hurdles, the 300 hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump.
Interestingly enough, the champion Falcons won only three indiviual events, a tribute to their depth and balance. But CC’s Shawn Ditzler did set a new meet record of 1:57.6 in winning the 800-meter run, while teamatse Bret Sholly claimed victory in a tight shot-put competition and Garrett Levengood was best by 30 feet in the javelin.
Falcon relay teams of Melvin Rios, Jeff Pellow, Jared Glosser and Ditzler, and Damon Edwards, Mitchell Weaver, Ryan Gonzalez and Denzel Pierre were victorious in the 3200 and 400 events, respectively.
“Our throwers were big today,” said Bare. “The shot was fantastic. You can’t get many more points than we did in the throws, and you’re talking about six quality teams. Our throwers really stepped up.”
Palmyra matched Cedar Crest’s individual-win output with three of its own. Distance specialist Coonor Strynkowski won the 3200 meters by a whopping 42 seconds, pole vault expert Shawn Mayer topped his competition and K.J. Williams took top honors in the discus.
The third meet record of the day was turned in by Elco’s Drew Gerberich, who needed a 4:19.4 to edge Strynkowski, who also eclipsed the former mark. Northern Lebanon’s Brian Boltz lived up to his top seeding by winning the high jump with a 6-2.
“This was an awesome County meet,” concluded Bare. “The county is impressive.”