BY JEFF FALK
PHOTOS BY LORI MESSERSMITH
SHIPPENSBURG – It was anything but addition by subtraction for Cedar Crest’s 3200-meter relay team. It was much more a case of redemption – or a prime example of the lessons that can be learned from athletics.
And for Falcon junior Evan Horn, addition to his athletic resume was based on further flair for the dramatic.
On Saturday at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, during the final day of the 91st annual District Three Track and Field Championships, a squadron of Cedar Crest boys’ distance runners exorcised some year-old demons and Horn continued to figure out a spear known as ‘the javelin’. The Falcon foursome of Jared Glosser, Jordan Cruise, Jesse Cruise and Matt Royer bolted to gold in the Class AAA 3200-meter relay, in a fast time of 7:54.01, while Horn captured the javelin competition on his last throw, a 179-8.
The Falcons’ pair of golds represented the shiniest of the 24 medals earned by Lebanon County competitors, in a variety of events. During the weekend, local student-athletes collected medals from 37 separate competitions.
On the heels of a certain amount of hype, Cedar Crest had finished a somewhat disappointing third in the four-by-eight relay at last season’s District Three meet. But this time, the Falcons erased all doubt.
“I think it was a little in our minds,” said Glosser, a senior. “We wanted to prove something to people.
“I’m very thankful for our coaches, because they pushed us to where we needed to be,” Glosser continued. “We have a strong family.”
The Cruise brothers and Glosser represented three-quarters of the Cedar Crest team which finished third in 2014 – Royer stepped into the spikes of the departed Jarrod Cruise. But instead of floundering in the wake of the talented eldest Cruise’s graduation, the Falcons flourished.
Yesterday, Cedar Crest shaved more than 11 seconds off of last year’s time, and almost seven seconds off this year’s seed time.
With each leg running to their full potential, the Falcons went out strong and fast, got an early lead and simply refused to relinquish it. Cedar Crest finished more than three clicks ahead of the runner-up quartet from Twin Valley.
Individually, Jesse Cruise came in sixth in the open 800-meter run and Jordan Cruise took an eighth in 1600 meters.
“I think we can build off of that,” said Glosser, this time looking ahead to next weekend’s PIAA Track and Field Championships, back at Shippensburg University. “I thought we all ran really, really smart. We got the lead, and maintained it.”
For the second straight week, Horn claimed the championship of a javelin competition on his final throw. He was trailing surprising Palmyra junior Alex Hoffsmith, who ended up second, until unleashing his 179-8.
“I don’t like it, but I’ll take it,” said Horn, who earned the Lancaster-Lebanon League title in similar fashion. “I was hoping not to make it as close as last week. The key is practice. You’ve got to have the mindset that you’re going to do well.
“I wasn’t clearing my hips at all,” added Horn. “I was trying, but I was trying too hard.”
The consummate teammate who makes everyone around him better in the pursuits of basketball and football, Horn’s talents have translated well to the individual aspects of track and field’s javelin throw. He’s done it through goal-setting and by aspiring to reach standards set by Cedar Crest’s greatest javelin hurler, District Three record holder Thomas Jordan.
“I’ve never really thought about it,” said Horn of the subtle differences between competing within the structure of a team and as an individual. “I guess here you don’t have teammates to rely on. But competition is competition.”
Meanwhile on the pole vault runway, Lebanon senior Erin Winters enjoyed an uneven and bittersweet day. Winters vaulted higher than any Class AAA female had gone in previous years, but didn’t realize a personal best, and finished second to second-seed Tesia Kempski of Bishop McDevitt, who reached the same 12-4 in fewer misses.
“It was awesome,” said the upbeat Winters. “I didn’t even know we were going for the record. No, I’m not disappointed. I could’ve done things technically different, but I’m happy.”
Winters’ silver was a bit of an upset, given the fact that she had worn last year’s district crown, as well as this year’s Lancaster-Lebanon League and Lebanon County titles. She will enter the final competition of her scholastic career – next week’s state meet – as a serious threat to medal.
“It’s a decent amount of pressure,” said Winters of yesterday’s competition. “I just wanted to clear 12. The runway is definitely different here, but I’m pretty comfortable with it. Competition-wise, I had a couple of other competitors that we didn’t have at the league meet. But everybody’s a competitor. Anyone can pop a big jump.”
A Palmyra team made up of decorated veterans opened the day’s festivities with a silver-medal effort in the Class AAA 3200-meter relay. Seniors Miranda Salvo, Katie Dembrowski and Maria Tukis collaborated with sophomore Jess Dembrowski to run a 6:16.51, second only to champion Wilson.
The same foursome ran to a seventh-place ribbon in the 1600-meter relay.
Copping bronze medals were Lebanon High senior Jeronimo Rodriguez in the Class AAA 400-meter run, Annville-Cleona’s third in the Class AA 300 hurdles and Northern Lebanon’s Dakota Leonhard in the Class AAA shot put.