NEWVILLE — The Annville-Cleona girls cross country team entered 2022 as the defending District Three Class 1A champion. But the Dutchmen also had to replace two-time individual district champ Braetan Peters, who had graduated. On top of that, A-C bumped up a classification in the postseason.
Still, Dutchmen coach Caitlin Heller has felt all along that this year’s group is better than last season's. Only problem was, A-C didn’t perform like that in the team’s scrimmage earlier in the fall.
“After our scrimmage against Palmyra, I had to give them (the) ‘I’m disappointed in you’ speech,” Heller recalled. “After that it’s just been building them up and convincing them that they’re good.”
A-C went on to win the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three crown. On Saturday, the Dutchmen won this year's District Three Class 2A team championship, completing their back-to-back title campaigns.
That followed a gold medal in the Class 1A boys race from A-C sophomore Landon Hostetter, who also juggles soccer and the marching band in the fall.
And as anticipated, Lampeter-Strasburg junior Colin Whitaker, the L-L boys champ, won the Class 2A district race in 15:40, the runner-up coming in 27 seconds later.
“The hills were getting me in the back part,” Whitaker said. “ I could have ran a decent amount faster had there been more people with me.”
Finally, the Manheim Township girls claimed the Class 3A championship, the program’s first district crown since 2017 and fifth overall.
“It’s insane,” Manheim Township sophomore Elena Barrall said. “I didn’t expect this would happen. I’m glad we’ll be having our name up there. We’re making history this year.”
Both the A-C and Manheim Township girls teams qualified for next week’s PIAA races in Hershey, as did the L-S (2A), Hempfield (3A) and Manheim Township (3A) boys.
L-L runners also collected 29 individual medals, including two gold, one silver and one bronze, with 41 individual runners qualifying for state meets.
Hempfield entered as the defending Class 3A team champ with the defending individual champ in Aidan Hodge. The Black Knights finished with 140 points, just one point shy of first-place Greencastle-Antrim for the team championship — Manheim Township placed third with 145 points.
Hempfield was led by Hodge (third place, 15:39) and Joseph Fahrney (fourth place, 15:47). They received medals along with Manheim Township’s Gunner Geib (ninth, 15:56) and Adam Kingston (14th, 16:04). They all qualified for the state 3A meet, as did Penn Manor’s Kaleb Kabakjian (21st, 16:14), Hempfield’s Sam Meyer (26th, 16:19), Manheim Township’s Cole Stevens (32nd, 16:31), Lebanon’s Ramon Urena Batista (33rd, 16:31), Cedar Crest’s Ben Causak (35th, 16:32) and Warwick’s Jake Forgione (37th, 16:33).
Led by Barrall (10th, 19:15.3) and Kaila Atteberry (14th, 19:25), Manheim Township won the 3A team crown with 135 points, just in front of the 140 points by runner-up Dallastown. The top four teams qualify for the state 3A meet. So fifth-place Cedar Crest just missed the cut.
Along with Barrall and Atteberry, five L-L girls runners picked up 3A medals: McCaskey's Gabrielle Thiry (eighth, 19:05) and Isabella Shertzer (11th, 19:15.8), Elizabethtown's Jordan DiRisio (12th, 19:18), Cedar Crest's Eliana Schneider (17th, 19:30) and Hempfield's Ella Wolfe (20th, 19:35). All qualified for the state 3A meet, as did Cocalico's Paige Reeser (26th, 19:42) and Ephrata's Madison Kimmel (29th, 19:46).
Lampeter-Strasburg entered as the defending Class 2A team champion, then placed four runners in the top 18, but its 66 points were good enough for a runner-up slot to the 58 points of first-place Wyomissing. The Pioneers still qualified for the state 2A meet.
Picking up medals were Whitaker and teammates Ben Devine (fourth, 16:21), Parker Stoner (12th, 16:51) and Luke Smith (18th, 17:07), along with Columbia's Matt McNair (16th, 17:02) and Elco teammates Chad Keller (17th, 17:06) and Landen Brubaker (19th, 17:12).
All qualified for the state meet, as did Northern Lebanon's Tyler Shunk (22nd, 17:23).
Annville-Cleona won the 2A team crown a year after winning the 1A title and having to replace Peters, who's now running at Elon. The Donegal girls placed third. Both teams will go to the state meet, as will an additional 4 L-L runners: Pequea Valley's Aubrey Ressler (fifth, 19:40), Caleigh Vincent (ninth, 20:12) and Abby Beiler (20th, 20:58) and L-S runner Keira Smecker (17th, 20:50).
Sophomore Hostetter became the fourth Annville-Cleona runner to pick a district gold medal, first since 2011. He won in 16:38, beating out runner-up Henry Friedrichs (16:47) of Veritas Academy.
Hostetter will compete in the state 1A meet alongside teammates Oliver Funck (16th, 18:13) and Matt Clemson (17th, 18:15), in addition to Lancaster Mennonite's Ethan Kanagy (12th, 18:02).
A-C just missed out on qualifying for the state meet as a team, its 73 points enough for third place (the top two 1A teams qualify) behind the first-place tie at the top of 58 points apiece for Kutztown and Tulpehocken.
Lancaster Mennonite junior Claire Thomas, in just her second year in the sport, got the day started for L-L runners by earning a silver medal with her second-place finish in 20:47, behind winner Madelyn Murphy (20:13) of York Catholic. It's the best finish in 16 years for a Lancaster Mennonite girls runner at districts, since Lindsey Shertzer won 2A gold in 2006.
Lancaster Catholic's Eden Lin picked up a medal by placing 10th in 21:47. Both Thomas and Lin qualified for the state 1A meet.