Penn Manor's Taraje Whitfield and Conestoga Valley's Aanyah Bermudez cleared the final hurdle in their 110-meter duel side by side, step for step, during a pivotal moment of the Section One clash between the Comet and Buckskin boys Monday at cool, cloudy and blustery Millersville.
"I knew that this was going to be a close meet," Whitfield said, "because they have a lot of really good athletes. I knew the team was going to need as many points as you can get. I really wanted to get first, not only for myself, but for the team. That helped me get the push that I needed."
Whitfield leaned into the finish line at 13.7 seconds, edging Bermudez (13.9) and helping Penn Manor claim an 89-61 team victory. Conestoga Valley won the girls' meet, 81-69.
Showdown in the hurdles
"He's a good kid," Bermudez said of Whitfield. "I enjoy racing him every time. It's always neck-and-neck. You always know it's going to be a close race. I can't even say how many times I've lost to him by a tenth or a hundredth of a second."
The list included their head-to-head meeting at the indoor state championships that saw Whitfield edge Bermudez for third place in the 60-meter hurdles by one hundredth of a second.
Bermudez broke from the blocks to take an early lead in Monday's race, pulling ahead of the field. Whitfield, a transfer from Manheim Township, could feel his momentum build with each clearance.
"By the third hurdle," he said, "that was when I was in full focus. That was the first time that I felt like I was actually running over the hurdles. I felt like there weren't any hurdles in the race."
Whitfield caught up to Bermudez by the final hurdle, and beelined toward the finish line to pick up key points for the Comets (2-0).
"One thing my coach has been working on," Whitfield said, "has been getting a good lean at the end of the race. I learned at states that that could really be the difference."
Whitfield and Bermudez neck-and-neck the whole way in the 300IH. Bermudez gets the win at 39.7. pic.twitter.com/Etq6YRDTfb— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) April 3, 2017
Bermudez answered in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, winning at 39.7 after making contact with the trail leg of Whitfield (39.9) and recovering to gain the edge in the race's final stages.
Barbon leads Buckskins
Jose Barbon gave the Buckskins (0-1) a boost, anchoring Conestoga Valley's winning 4x100-meter relay team (44.4) picking up wins in the 100-meter dash (11.0), the 200-meter dash (23.3) and the long jump (21 feet, 11.75 inches) with Penn Manor's Theoren McElheny pushing him to the finish line in the sprints.
"Around here," Barbon said, pointing to the 80-meter mark of the 100, "I eased up a little bit, and then I heard (McElheny) right there, so I had to keep going."
Boys' 100m dash - Conestoga Valley's Jose Barbon edges Penn Manor's Theoren McElheny for a win at 11.0. pic.twitter.com/8qJS3n13AF— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) April 3, 2017
A late push from McElheny put him aligned with Barbon's shoulders in the final 10 meters, but the Conestoga Valley junior leaned into the finish line.
"I kind of closed the gap," McElheny said. "I thought that I had him at the end, but I think his hair is what beat me."
Comets claim victory
McElheny rallied with a win in the 400-meter dash (52.7), and Malachi Lyon scored a pair of victories in the 1,600-meter run (4:24.4) and 3,200-meter run (10:39.9) after joining Dylan Terry, Dave Kramer and Doug Kramer in Penn Manor's winning 4x800-meter relay (8:37.0).
"The leadership," Penn Manor coach Daniel Myers said, "of Doug Kramer and his younger brother, Dave Kramer, and Malachi Lyon, has been extremely strong."
Here's the end of the boys' 3,200, won by Penn Manor's Malachi Lyon at 10:39.9. pic.twitter.com/spF9O8aTUg— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) April 3, 2017
Penn Manor's Matt Julian cleared 11-0 to win the pole vault, and the Comets also won all three throwing events with top performances from Casey McCollum (shot put, 47-0.5), Levi Diehl (discus, 132-10) and Alexander Scheivert (javelin, 174-4).