By Dick VanOLinda/The York Dispatch
HERSHEY – Jacob Thomas surprised himself at the PIAA State Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
The Susquehannock senior earned a medal with his ninth-place finish in the Boys’ Class AA race. Thomas covered the demanding 3.1-mile Parkview course in 16.51.
“It’s awesome (getting a medal),” Thomas said. “I didn’t think I was going to get one.” But we have a hard district course, and I just used it to my advantage.”
Thomas, Aaron Gebhart of New Oxford and Brady Wilt of Biglerville gained individuals medals in the season-ending event. York Suburban’s girls’ placed fifth in the Class AA team competition, and York Suburban’s boys’ took ninth in the Class AA.
Susquehannock’s girls’ team was 14th in Class AA, and Delone Catholic’s girls’ came in 15th in Class A.
“I ran a 16:54 in districts,’ Thomas said. “But this course is even harder than districts, so this time today, I’m really happy with it.”
Both the District 3 and state meets take place at Parkview but the layouts are different with the state course featuring more hills including a challenging uphill grade just before the runners enter the homestretch.
“I feel I attacked the course more at the start today,” Thomas said. “I went out strong for the first mile (he was sixth after one mile), but the second mile, a lot of people came up strong. I picked it up in the third mile and came in ninth.”
Adrenaline and emotion fueled Thomas’ journey over the former golf course.
“The whole time, I’m thinking, this is my last race, and that gives you that little extra edge.
I was really emotional. It’s kind of like the last time that I might finish a cross country race.”
Gebhart put up the fastest time by a York-Adams runner as he crossed the line in 16:25 for 14th place in Boys’ Class AAA.
“I’m really pleased,” the junior said. “That last hill at the end is really big. I shot up the hill, but at the top, I slowed down and two kids passed me. So, I just gave it all on the final stretch.”
Gebhart was really nervous at the beginning of the race.
“But I closed my eyes, took a couple of deep breaths and said, let’s go get it now. People said that was fastest they saw me run all year.”
Gebhart thinks the experience he gained this year at states will help him next year.
“What I did today gives me something to build on over the summer (training for the 20124 season). Hopefully, I’ll run better than ever next year.”
Wilt, a two-time District 3 champion, recorded the same time as Thomas (16:51) to take seventh place in Boys’ Class AA.
York Suburban sophomore Olivia Gettle just missed a medal finishing 26th (the top 25 individuals and the two teams with the lowest scores in each class are awarded medals).
Gettle was in the medal hunt for almost the entire race, but she fell with just 10 yards to go.
Gettle also fell in the last two District 3 meets.
“We made sure she was hydrated,” York Suburban girls’ coach Dan VanHouwe said. “Olivia puts forth the maximum effort every time out. I don’t think she knows her limitations, and I think that’s why she struggled sometimes down near the finish.”
Gettle was the leading runner for a team that won District 3 and York-Adams team championships. She also captured the York-Adams All-League run.
“We had a great season,” VanHouwe said. “One of the best seasons we’ve ever had. We have our top four (in Saturday’s meet) back (Gettle, Emma Leik, Danielle Cardone, Sarah Cardone), but it’s going ot be hard to say goodbye to our seniors (Lauren Shrader, Kimberly Hall and Savanah Wilt).”
The York Suburban boys’ also this year’s District 3 champion, will lose just one senior (Brad Clark) to graduation.
Following are the times and places for the York-Adams runners:
Boys’ Class AAAA – Gebhart (15:25, 14); J.D. Groff, Central (17:22, 93); Patrick Reilly, Dallastown (17:25, 100). Reilly closed his high school career as District 3 champion and a two-time York-Adams League Run winner.
Boys’ Class AA – Thomas (16:51, ninth); Donovan Mears, York Suburban (17:29, 39); Gabe Lloyd, Dover (17:34, 47); Brad Clark, York Suburban (17:55, 88); Theo Kkoussis, Kennard-Dale (17:58, 94); Ben Linne, Northeastern (18:13, 117); Peter Wagner, York Suburban (18:24, 128); Adam Barley, York Suburban (18:25, 134), Zach Lofties, York Suburban (18:37, 149); Matt Curry, York Suburban (18:55, 179); Danty Pagan, Dover, (18:58, 182); Quentin Schorr, York Suburban (19:07, 189).
Boys’ Class A – Wilt, Biglerville (16:51, seventh); Victor Solalinde, Biglerville (18:49, 123).
Girls’ Class AA – Gettle (20:00, 26); Rachel Banchiere, Susquehannock (20:21, 34); Kayla White, Kennard-Dale (20:34, 46); Leik (20:42, 54); Emily Fourhman, Susquehannock (20:47, 63); Danielle Cardone (21:08, 92); Sarah Cardone (21:14, 102); Shrader (21:35, 129); Hall (21:39, 135); Jackie Ditt, Susquehannock (21:57, 160); Rachelle Walker, York Suburban (22:11, 176); Katie Steines, Susquehannock (23:16, 210); Brigit Duffy, Susquehannock (23:38, 218); Jenna Bradford, Susquehannock (24:14, 227).
Girls’ Class A – Kate Mowrey, Delone Catholic (21:05, 43); Alyssa Alberghini, Delone Catholic (22:32, 120); Andrea Resciniti, Delone Catholic (22:54, 132); Abbey Sweeny Delone Catholic (23:03, 140); Kristlyn Whitlock, Delone Catholic (24:03, 171); Amanda Falvey, York Catholic (24:23, 177); Megan Mall, Delone Catholic (24:25, 178); Jenna Salter, Delone Catholic (25:52, 197)