By DICK VANO’LINDA
HERSHEY — The York Suburban girls’ cross country runners lined up for the start of the District 3-AA race on Wednesday minus the team’s fastest runner.
The Trojans were without Olivia Gettle, who is battling injuries. They refused, though, to let Gettle’s absence prevent them from reaching their goal.
The Suburban runners ran the extremely challenging Parkview course for the team, and they ran for Gettle.
“Olivia is battling back issues, but we told the girls they could do it without her,” Trojans girls’ head coach Dan VanHouwe said. “They needed to step up for her.”
The Trojans accomplished the mission by scoring 116 points to repeat as champions.
The Suburban boys’ team, meanwhile, blitzed the AA field with 41 points, 109 better than runner-up Wyomissing.
For the second straight year, both the Suburban girls’ and boys’ teams hoisted championship trophies.
The Delone Catholic girls won this year’s Class A team crown, and on the individual side, Aaron Gebhart of New Oxford delivered the best performance by a York-Adams runner by winning the gold medal in the Boys’ Class AAA race.
“This year, we double doubled,” VanHouwe said. “There’s already talk of a triple-triple. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but it’s out there.”
Cecilia Lantz, a freshman, was the first Suburban girls’ runner to cross the line. She finished 17th. Emma Leik was right behind Lantz, while Lena Strong, Brooke Ruth and Zette Pflum were the other Suburban scorers. Lantz’s performance surprised VanHouwe.
“She said she needed a week to resolve all her issues,” the Trojans’ coach said. “She was so fearful. There was no fear today.”
Suburban boys: After the Suburban girls completed their mission, the guys’ team put on another dominating performance.
Suburban placed six runners among the first 15 finishers. The spread from the first to the sixth Suburban runner was just 44 seconds. Brady Wilt led the way for the Trojans by coming in fourth. He was followed by Donovan Mears (sixth), Bryce Ohl (ninth), Adam Barley (13th), Peter Wagner (14th) and Zach Lofties (15th).
“I can’t tell you how great it is to coach these guys,” Suburban boys’ coach Ron Herman said. “It’s an honor.”
Suburban entered the event as a strong favorite based on its performances during the regular season and in invitationals.
“The only enemies were the other runners and a little overconfidence,” Herman said. “You still have to get out there and run.”
The way that the 2014 team runs reminds Herman, who’s in his 27th season, of another group of Suburban runners.
“The 2009 team, this team resembles that team,” Herman said.
The 2009 team won the AA state title.
“Cross country is like poker,” Herman said. “You need five good cards, and I have five good cards.”
Wilt joined Herman’s hand this year after transferring from Biglerville to Suburban.
“It wasn’t the best conditions today (rain fell during the AA races),” Wilt said. “Some of the runners were slipping up the hills. I was a little disappointed with my time (16 minutes, 50 seconds), but to have a boys’ team title with these guys washes all that away.”
Gebhart, White: Gebhart ran a 16:11 for the 3.1-mile course, shaving 12 seconds off his time in last year’s district meet.
“I got third last year (in districts),” he said. “This (winning the title) was the goal. I got out slow, but I picked up the pace, and I had a good last mile.”
Kayla White, of Kennard-Dale, who won this year’s York-Adams Girls’ All-League Run, took third in Class AA with a time of 19:52. White’s teammates, Caitlin Salomon and Maddie Ferner, who took second and third in the York-Adams event, were fifth and sixth, respectively, in Wednesday’s district meet. K-D also secured third in the team standings, qualifying for states.
“I definitely didn’t realize that (earning a trip to states) until right now,” White said following the awards ceremony. “I was so excited. I knew all three of us (White, Salomon and Ferner) made it, but I was like, ‘Oh, we’re all going to states.'”
The state championships are set for Saturday, Nov. 1, also at the Parkview course.
— Reach Dick VanOlinda at email@example.com.
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