Up and away Garden Spot boys outduel MC for share of section title
BY PETE KAUFFMAN, Sports Writer
Austin Haas saved his best for last.
And Haas' win in the triple jump gave Garden Spot the final points it needed to knock off visiting Manheim Central 81-69 in a battle of Section Two unbeaten boys' track and field teams on a blustery Monday.
"It's a big deal. It's closure. It meant a lot to me,'' Haas said of clinching at least a share of the Section Two title, the Spartans' first for this year's senior class.
Conestoga Valley won the past three, but moved to Section One this year, opening the door for what became a three-team hunt for the trophy.
Spot (6-0 L-L and overall) closes out the season next week at Solanco (4-2), which lost an 82-68 decision to Lampeter-Strasburg on Monday to fall out of title contention.
The Barons (5-1, 6-1) can secure a share of the crown by knocking off L-S Monday in Manheim, but only if the Golden Mules can stop Spot.
The Garden Spot girls (5-1), behind another stellar day from senior Hannah Williams, overcame Danae Peters and the Barons (2-4, 2-5) by a 92-58 margin.
The Central boys had their chances, but coach Shane Adams said he was to blame for creating an imperfect lineup.
"I didn't plan out the meet as well as I should have,'' Adams said. "It's my fault, not (the team's) fault. I was just outcoached.
"My team competed well,'' added Adams, who competed for Garden Spot coach Russ White when the Spartans won the District Three team title in 1994. "I'm proud of them. We just can't seem to get over the bump; get to that elite status in the section. Not sure what it is, but we keep striving, improving, trying to get there.''
The Barons were almost there Monday, and despite what Adams said, he couldn't have expected what White threw at him. That's because it was a makeshift lineup because of injuries and absences of several of the Spartans' top athletes.
Sophomore Ben Swarr cleared 11-6 to win the pole vault. Haas, whose best is 13-0, couldn't compete in that event because of a banged-up thumb.
Haas then trailed in the triple jump before uncorking a 38-8a-x on his final attempt to win that event. He previously won the long jump (19-11a-v) and took third in a Spartans sweep in the 100 (12.1), which, like the jumps, was negatively affected by a strong headwind.
Sophomore Malik Parsons also stood tall for Spot, taking the 100 (11.5), high hurdles (15.6) and intermediate hurdles (41.8). Parsons said it was only the second time he competed in the 300 hurdles, and had to give up his leadoff spot in the 400 relay in order to earn some team points.
"I knew we needed those points, so I just pushed myself,'' Parsons said of winning the intermediates. He said he didn't mind yielding his position in the 400 relay, which the Spartans' team of Rylan Sweed (who filled in for Parsons), Jon Brannan, Haas and Cevaughn Cauldwell won in 46.3 anyway, because, "I needed to do whatever Coach White needed me to do.''
That was also the case for senior distance specialist James Martin, who won the 1,600 (4:43.2) and 800 (2:05.2), which were toss-up events.
"Everybody just stepped up,'' Martin said. "We had some things we had to overcome, some people we were missing and some people who were hurt, but everybody was willing to step up and do what was necessary, even if it's not what they're used to.''
"The athletes that competed today gave it everything they had,'' White said. "And I love what Shane Adams has brought to Central. They did a lot of good things. We did some very good things. We had guys step up, and that's what we needed.''