HERSHEY — Coming down the homestretch in last year’s PIAA cross country championship race, Lampeter-Strasburg’s Colin Whitaker fell three times before crossing the finish line.

On Saturday, Whitaker stayed upright the whole way in the Class 2A boys championship race en route to a sixth-place finish, crossing the line in 16 minutes, 22 seconds.

He was the highest finisher among 52 Lancaster-Lebanon League runners who participated in the state meet on the Parkview course near Giant Center.

On a sunny Saturday that began with temperatures in the mid-30s and ended in the mid-50s, Whitaker’s time was also the fastest among L-L runners.

“I’m happy with it,” Whitaker said afterward. “Six spots better than last year. And I didn’t fall the last 100 meters.”

Whitaker was one of three L-L runners to earn a state medal, along with Annville-Cleona senior Braetan Peters (11th in girls 1A) and Hempfield junior Aidan Hodge (20th in boys 3A).

Four L-L teams also ran Saturday. One of them got close to some hardware, with the L-S boys placing fourth.

“That means a lot,” Whitaker said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get second or first. It’s just a better experience being with the team. I was by myself last year. I didn’t really like that.”

Meanwhile, both L-L champions, Hodge and McCaskey sophomore Isabella Shertzer, ended up a bit battered. Shertzer went down in the final third and was unable to finish, while Hodge gutted through a hip injury and was later assisted to the medal stand while hanging onto the shoulders of teammates.