2020 PIAA Cross Country Championships

Ella Hartel (717) of Warwick runs in a Class 3A girls heat race in the PIAA cross country championships at the Parkview cross country course in Hershey on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020.

Warwick runner Ella Hartel exploded onto the Lancaster-Lebanon League girls cross country scene this time a year ago. As a freshman last fall, Hartel placed sixth at the L-L championship, 13th at the District 3-3A championship and 33rd at the PIAA 3A championship. She was part of a talented Warriors bunch that captured the L-L team championship and placed second at the District 3-3A championship.

She is among the top returning L-L girls runners this season, which begins with practices Aug. 16, first meet dates Sept. 3 and first league meets Sept. 10.

Here’s a Q&A conducted recently with Hartel as she preps for the upcoming 2021 campaign. This has been edited for brevity.

What got you started in running?

“I started running in the third grade with my dad. It was super casual. Short runs through town. He did a race series in Reading over the winter. I joined him sometimes and got more experience with actual racing. I did Girls On The Run in fifth grade, then cross country in seventh grade and track in eighth grade.”

What were some challenges you faced during your freshman campaign last fall?

“The main thing is just nerves and being really nervous for the races. That made it hard. That day in school that’s all you think about. That’s the biggest challenge with it.”

How did you learn to deal with the nervousness?

“Having the same routine every night and day made it a lot easier because you are mentally preparing yourself to race. Eating the same thing that night and doing the same warm-up gets your body ready for racing.”

How would you describe yourself as a runner? What part of the race do you excel at?

“I definitely go out a little fast. Probably faster than I should. In eighth grade that race is only two miles. In varsity it’s a longer race, that took me awhile to adjust to. I really like to go fast and push myself on the hills. That’s a point in which a lot of runners slow down and have negative thoughts. That’s a great time to gain on someone. ... At the end of the race I like to sprint and leave it all out on the field. I don’t like finishing my races without sprinting to the end.”

You’re a big sister to a younger brother. What responsibilities come with that?

“It’s teaching my brother how to act after a game. He plays soccer. ...You’ll never have your best game or race. The big part in sports in general is being able to bounce back. Learn from it. ...It doesn’t get easier as you get older. It’s something you’ll always struggle with because competition will get tougher.”

You’re also a standout runner for the track & field team. Have you tried any other sports along the way?

“I played soccer my whole life, from five years old until the end of seventh grade. I also tried tennis for two years.”

How difficult was walking away from soccer?

“Very difficult. I did not want to in the moment. I had been running. I enjoyed it. I had talent. Wanted to try it. I played soccer in the fall, ran track in spring. Track went well. So I made the decision to do running all the time.”

Let’s go to the classroom. What’s your favorite class?

“My favorite class is math. I know a lot of people don’t like math but I do.”

Time for some fun questions. Do you have a favorite motto or quote that motivates you?

“Something I tell myself during a race is, ‘It’s going to be OK. The pain you feel during a race, it doesn’t last forever. It’s 20 minutes. You’ll be fine.’”

What was your favorite toy as a child?

“I had this little stuffed bunny that I clung onto the most. I still have it. It’s name is Pickles. It’s green.”

What running shoes do you prefer using?

“I wear Brooks. I’ve been running in those since middle school.”

Are you superstitious?

“I definitely do the exact same things every time. Same meal. Same socks.”

What has your offseason training looked like?

“I run between 20 and 25 miles per week. Each week it gets more mileage. We have a little running chart that we send out.. ...there’s a rail trail close to my house that we run on. We meet for practices, run on campus and around the school, the town. I do incorporate hills.”

Who is Warwick’s rival this season?

“Manheim Township and McCaskey are the two that come to my mind.”

Where does Warwick girls cross country fit into the L-L League this fall?

“We’re all hoping to win the league title again. We’re mindful about training and that we’re staying on top of it. The work you put in now, the miles you put in now are what make it achievable later on.”

What motivates you in life?

“Wanting to be the best version of myself. When you are motivated and do stuff, go for a long run, do all your homework, you feel really good afterwards.”

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