By DICK VanOLINDA
EMIGSVILLE — Kayla White got off to a “crappy” start in Tuesday’s York-Adams League Girls’ Cross Country Championship Run at John Rudy Park.
The Kennard-Dale senior found herself caught in traffic and had to get out and do some passing.
The less-than-ideal beginning didn’t discourage White.
“I went to a cross country camp, and they had this saying, ‘being mentally strong makes you physically strong,'” White said. “I just kept thinking positive the whole way.”
The positive attitude, combined with determined running, enabled White to make school history by becoming the first female K-D runner to win the York-Adams Run. White finished in 19 minutes, 25.22 seconds for the 3.1-mile course.
White wasn’t the only runner who recorded an historic finish. Aaron Gebhart, of New Oxford, who won the boys’ race in a time of 16:11.63, is the first male runner from his school to capture the York-Adams Run. Both White and Gebhart finished second last year.
White led a mini-pack of blue-clad K-D runners across the finish line. Her teammates, Caitlin Salomon and Maddie Ferner, were second and third, respectively, in 19:34.27 and 19:36.60. Kate Mowrey of Delone Catholic and Maddie McLain of Eastern York rounded out the top five.
The defending champion, Olivia Gettle of York Suburban, didn’t run because of tendinitis. Suburban girls’ coach Dan Vanhouwe made the decision to keep Gettle out of the race, saying he didn’t want her to get hurt and that next week’s District 3-AA race is more important.
“That was pretty awesome,” White said when asked what it was like to have two teammates cross the line right behind her. “Our Maddie (Ferner) was right with me when I said to myself, ‘come on, this is my senior year, and my last chance at all this stuff.'”
White played soccer until taking up cross country in her freshman year.
“My dad ran cross country, and my mom said she ran on her own,” White said. “I know that cross country is not that big a deal to the general population, but you surround yourself with people who care about you. You get a medal, and on a bad day, you look up on your wall (and see the medal) and think, ‘that’s me.'”
Boys’ race: Gebhart earned his first-place medal, a year after placing second to two-time champion Patrick Reilly of Dallastown.
“He’s a really great runner, and I’m still friends with him,” Gebhart said. “Filling his spot is pretty cool. Winning was my goal today, and we’re going after the district (Class AAA) title next week.”
Gebhart finished 25 seconds ahead of Suburban’s Brady Wilt. Wilt transferred to Suburban this year from Biglerville.
“I was pretty pleased with my race,” Wilt said. “I got off to a good start, 4:56 or 4:57 for the first mile. Aaron had a really good race. I’ve known Aaron since he was little, and I’m always going to be happy for him. He’s like a little brother to me.”
Another Suburban runner, Donovan Mears, was third, followed by Dan Filler of Gettysburg and Ben Schott of South Western.
Suburban, the defending District 3-AA champion, placed six runners among the top 12 in Wednesday’s race.
“It’s a huge blessing to have a team aspect like we do,” Wilt said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better my senior year. We’re setting the bar very high, and we’re very excited about the upcoming two weeks (districts and states).”
K-D, Dallastown and Central each had three runners among the top 20 in the girls’ race. Medals were awarded to the first 20 finishers in each race.
— Reach Dick VanOlinda at email@example.com.