BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – Run. Jump. Throw.
The old, old-school Olympics was the predecessor to today’s modern track and field events. Locally, nothing pays homage to that original spirit of competition the way the County meet does.
On an airy Saturday at Lebanon High School, during the annual contesting of the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships, no one embraced that spirit of competition like the Cedar Crest boys and Falcon senior sprinter Jepel Gibbs. While Gibbs was garnering the Outstanding Male Athlete award in just his second year of competition in the sport, the Falcons were winning their 22nd straight team championship – truly one of the most remarkable accomplishments in Lebanon County Sports.
Gibbs struck county gold in three events – the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter relay – and came in second to Palmyra’s Ben Wolfe in the long jump.
As a team, Cedar Crest earned a fairly routine title by besting Palmyra 197 team points to 148. Elco came in third and Annville-Cleona was fourth, followed by Lebanon and Northern Lebanon.
“Palmyra is one heck of a track-and-field team,” said Cedar Crest head coach Rob Bare of his thinclads’ toughest competition. “They had seven number-one seeds. It says a lot about the competition in Lebanon County. And it says a lot about how our kids rose to the challenge.”
“It’s a great feeling,” said Gibbs. “I don’t even know what to say. But I believed I could do it. I achieved what I believed. It definitely made my day.”
Gibbs didn’t necessarily blow away the competition in his events. It was his closing speed that helped distanced himself from the other competitiors.
Just after lunch, Gibbs ripped off an 11.2 to edge teammate Chris Rios in the 100-meter dash. Then he posted a 20-6.75 in the long jump to Wolfe’s winning leap of 21-4.75.
“I didn’t expect to win this,” said Gibbs of the OA award. “But it brought me up. I came here and did what I had to do. I was just worrying about what I had to do.”
“Jepel only came out as a junior,” said Bare. “We were trying to figure out where to put him. Half-way through last year he ran an 11.6 (in th 100). And we thought, ‘That’s something we can work with’. Now he’s Lebanon County’s fastest man.”
Gibbs anchored Cedar Crest’s winning 400-meter relay team, a squad which included Rios, Zach Herzog and Essay Santos. Two events later, he capped off his outstanding performance by popping off a victorious time of 23.69 in the 200 meters.
“I’m just thinking about coming here and doing everything strong,” said Gibbs. “I was listening to music to get me in the zone. I was anxious for it.”
The Falcons also gained valuable team points by winning the 3200-meter relay, as Ryan Scchitiano, William Sheffield, D.J. Laliberte and Jake Barrett combined to go 8:39.86. In addition to Alex Miller’s triumph in the 110-meter hurdles, Cedar Crest received key field victories from Nick Achey in the high jump and Herzog in the pole vault.
The Palmyra effort was spear-headed by two Wolfe triumphs, in the long and triple jumps, Garrett Miller’s four-foot victory in the shot put, Jakolby Fackler’s run-away victory in the 3200-meter run and Zach Toth’s win in the 1600 meters.
Meanwhile, Annville-Cleona’s Michael Moran took top honors in the 400-meter dash, Lebanon’s Riley Klick was crowned the county champion of the 800-meter event, Elijah Herb of Elco emerged victorious in the 300-meter hurdles, Raider teammate Brenden Nauman claimed the javelin with a heave of 165-10 and Dylan Lambrecht of Northern Lebanon bested the competition in the discus.
Klick collaborated with Alex Cruz, Matt Brown and Jahlil Young on a triumph effort in the 1600-meter relay.
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|Lebanon County Track and Field Championship Records|
|LEBANON COUNTY MEET RECORDS|