L-L BOYS' TRACK & FIELD: Motivational memories - LancasterOnline: Sports

L-L BOYS' TRACK & FIELD: Motivational memories

Tribe sprinters running for each other, and for a lost teammate

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Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 8:53 pm | Updated: 11:14 am, Fri Nov 1, 2013.

They are, quite simply, hoping to turn some heads.

The Donegal senior foursome of Sebastian Hall, Griffin Libhart, Omey Tibasima and Johnnie Martin have a need for speed.

Currently, they're among the L-L League's best early-season sprinters, but they hope to maintain that status and be mentioned in the same breath as the top speedsters not only from this area, but districtwide and statewide as well by the end of May.

"They're just a very driven group of guys, who are extremely motivated," Donegal sprint coach Eric Schuck said of his quartet. "They really do work together well as a team. I think they like that better than competing individually."

While individually they are all quite fast, it's the combination of Hall, Libhart, Tibasima and Martin that Indians head coach Gretchen Colwell thinks will make its mark at the L-L League (May 11-12), District Three (May 18-19) and PIAA (May 25-26) championship meets.

It's one of those cases where the sum of the parts is greater than the individual pieces. In the Indians' case, it's four running with a fifth.

Never far from their minds is the absence of former teammate Zach Millhouse, who died in a one-car crash on Jan. 18. While Millhouse is gone, his memory lives on. In fact, his presence is literally in the hands of the track relay teams, which use a specially painted baton to memorialize Millhouse.

"We use that whenever we're permitted," Schuck said of the special baton. "I usually hand it to one of the guys and then tell them 'Get Zach around the track.'

"We're far enough out (from the time of Millhouse's death) that we're in celebration mode of his life, not mourning him. We're celebrating all of what Zach meant to all of the kids - not just the athletes - and honoring him."

Colwell praised Schuck for his idea and initiative in getting the baton made. "The kids, they hold (the baton) dearly. It means a lot to them," she said.

The baton, Schuck said, is quite simple in design with flames on the ends and Donegal Indians on one side. It isn't flashy or flamboyant, but represents some of the workmanlike traits in Millhouse, who had a flash of speed and was very involved in all things Donegal, Schuck said.

Schuck said that Millhouse was part of the 400 relay as a freshman, and may have earned a spot on this year's squad as a junior. Instead, Hall, Libhart, Martin and Tibasima that comprise the current incarnation.

Hall who was an alternate on the relay in 2011, Schuck said, "is the quiet, confident one. Very quiet but extremely competitive."

Libhart, who is headed to West Virginia in the fall to play soccer, "is the most competitive person on the team. He's also the one guy that is able to motivate the rest of the team," Schuck said.

Martin, meanwhile, is a three-sport standout who is headed to Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia for a year of prep school before hopefully enrolling in college in 2013. "He's what you'd call the light-hearted guy. He likes to keep things fun and not too stressful," Schuck said.

As for Tibasima, he's the relative newcomer to the group. Colwell said he was just recently inserted into the relay, and has already made his presence felt. "He's a reliable, very solid performer," Schuck said.

He's also considered one of the lost children of the Congo, families that were torn apart by unrest in that African nation, according to Colwell.

"He's got a really unique story. He's a very interesting kid," Colwell said. "He's heading to Texas (after graduation) to live with the one brother he knows where he is. It's a complex situation. College? I'm not sure about that."

What Colwell and Schuck are certain about is that "we've raised the program to another level. Better athletes in the school have noticed that and they want to be part of a thriving program," said Schuck.

"We're at the point now where we're not just mentioned with the likes of the Hempfield and McCaskey and Harrisburg, but we an compete with those kinds of schools," Schuck added. "We can't compete in some sports, like football, because we just don't have the (numbers of) kids, but we can go to big (track and field) meets and be competitive. These kids, they're not afraid of anything, and they're not afraid of hard work."

They are, quite simply, just hoping to get noticed and maybe even turn a few heads.

•••

As for the top boys' teams in the league, Section One's Hempfield and Section Two's Conestoga Valley appear to be the best all-around squads. CV, which will flip-flop sections with Elizabethtown next season, topped the Black Knights 78-72 in a nonleague meet March 29.

Hempfield is the reigning state Class AAA team champion and boasts returning state record-holder Kyle Long. Long, a senior thrower who has committed to Arizona State, set a PIAA record with his 202-10 winning effort in the discus. He also won state gold with a 58-3d-v heave in the shot put. He tops the current L-L field with a 196-0 in the disc and is behind training partner and rival Kyle Felpel, a Cocalico senior and Alabama recruit, in the shot.

Felpel set the Eagles' school record twice this year and is currently at 61-3 1/2 to Long's 59-1/2. Meanwhile, Manheim Central's Cole Proffitt (184-11) and Felpel (178-2) lead in the javelin.

The sprinters: Annville-Cleona's Ben Mason; CV's Terrance Taylor and Elias Bogale; Hempfield's Jake Longenecker and Tory Long; Lancaster Mennonite's Mark Engle; Manheim Township's Greg Stambaugh; McCaskey's Kelvin Cunningham and Quashaun Davis and Solanco's Derek Rudy.

The distance runners: A-C's Shawn Wolfe; Cedar Crest's Shaun Ditzler and Bryce Ebersole; Ephrata's Billy Houser; Hempfield's Andrew Birk; LM's Jared Schatz; McCaskey's Tyler Holdren and Dalton Trump; Penn Manor's John Bitner, Ben Mueller and Travis Wells; Solanco's John Ausel and Warwick's Chris Sandkuhler.

The hurdlers: CV's Robbie Cardina; Ephrata's Quintin Felak; Garden Spot's Jordan Sellers; Hempfield's Bryan Yoder and McCaskey's Robert Wolpert and Relin Mejia.

The jumpers and vaulters: A-C's Keller Hess; CC's Garrett Levengood; Cocalico's Ben Graybill; CV's Cardina; Donegal's Tibasima; Elco's Nate Litschi and Cameron Strause; Garden Spot's Max Mahan; Hempfield's Issiah Bennett, Colin McKenna and Kevin Woeppel; McCaskey's Tyree Ballinger; Northern Lebanon's Bryan Boltz and PM's Brendan Kincade.

pkauffman@lnpnews.com

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