Manheim Township's Evan Dorenkamp sat in fourth place of the Lancaster-Lebanon League's boys 1,600-meter championship race Saturday at Hempfield when the bell rang for the final lap. But with 50 meters to go, Dorenkamp scurried down the stretch in first place, swinging his long arms and long legs in an attempt to hold off a potential surge from Ephrata's Tyler Shue.

"I couldn't really feel much," Dorenkamp said, "but I knew he was coming, and I knew I had to finish it with all I had. That was definitely a good feeling, seeing no one in front of me."

Dorenkamp's furious 400-meter finish earned him the gold at 4:14.53. Shue finished second at (4:15.20) while Warwick's Connor Shields claimed third (4:17.24 ) and Conestoga Valley's Nate Grucelski finished fourth (4:17.48 ). Their melee in the mile highlighted the L-L League championships' second day that saw multiple first-place finishes from Lampeter-Strasburg's Ezra Mellinger (100, 200), McCaskey's Dejon Manning (300 hurdles, 4x100 relay) and Penn Manor's Chad Mowbray (400, 4x400 relay).

In Saturday's field events, Cocalico's Brock Gingrich won the shot put (54 feet, 8.25 inches), Northern Lebanon's Dylan Lambrecht won the discus (161-10), Penn Manor's Matt Julian won the pole vault (14-6) and Manheim Central's Will Rivers won the triple jump (47-3.25). Warwick earned the team title with 82.5 points.


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Dorenkamp's distance triumph

Through the first 1,200 meters of Saturday's 1,600, the four runners in the lead pack had run at about the same pace, hitting splits of about 64 seconds. But in the back of the pack, with the runners in front of him hugging the inside line, Dorenkamp knew he needed to make a move.

"At that point," he said, "I was honestly doubting myself. But I knew I had to give it my all. I saw Shields go out and try to push the leader, and I figured, 'I beat Shields before. I'll go with him.' With 200 meters to go, I felt good and thought I could actually finish this race."

Overtaking Grucelski and Shields, Dorenkamp pulled up to Shue's side with about 200 meters left. They bumped elbows as they ran into the curve.

"At that point," he said, "I realized it wasn't going to work to pass him on the curve. I had to just settle and get him in the straight. That's what happened, and that's what I did. I was very fortunate."

Dorenkamp had run the 400-meter dash at Manheim Township's dual meet with McCaskey Monday. He said the training helped him on his final trip around the track. Shue rebounded to win the 800 (1:56.47), overtaking Lebanon's Riley Klick (1:57.62) with about 50 meters to go.

"In all honesty," Shue said, "I was highly contemplating just not going for it. My legs were just drained from the mile. With like 300 left, I saw him start to slow down, so I figured, 'You have to go now, or you're not going to go,' so I started picking it up."

Mellinger adds two titles

A day after repeating as the league's long jump champion, Mellinger successfully defended his 100 title (10.86) and took the 200 championship (21.59) in the fastest fully automatic time in league-meet history.

"I knew what I did last year," Mellinger said," and I wanted to keep it going. I knew what I had to do. I knew what times I had to get, so I just kind of went out and did it, and it turned out well."

Mellinger built an early lead to put space between himself and the field while McCaskey's Da'Avionce Rodriguez (22.22) and Warwick's Ryan Fegley (22.36) battled for second place.

"With Rodriguez next to me," Mellinger said, "I knew he was really going to push me, and that push, I think, is what helped me get into the 21s again. So I really enjoyed it. It was a fun race all around."

Rodriguez also finished third in the 100 (11.17) and joined Manning, Amere Dickinson and Basir Epps in the 4x100 win. Manning finished second in the 100 (11.08) and opened his day with a second-place finish in the 110 hurdles final (15.47) to Cedar Crest's Alex Miller (15.31). Cedar Crest's Ryan Sciccitano, William Sheffield, Jake Barrett and Nate Shutter gave the Falcons another first-place finish in the 4x800 relay (8:03.48).

In the 400, Mowbray opened up a lead big enough to hold off Hempfield's Tanner Hess, who finished second (50.86).

"Throughout my whole 400 career," Mowbray said, "my first 200 splits were always slow. My coaches and I have been really working on my first 200. I was happy with it today."

Mowbray finished the meet by holding on to the lead built by teammates Taz Whitfield, Josenlly Martinez and David Kramer in the 4x400 relay to give the Comets the title at 3:25.70.

Field notes

Gingrich upheld his No. 1 seed in the shot put with a 54-foot throw to give him a lead heading into the finals.

"From there," he said, "I just tried to tweak my technique a little bit and see how far I could throw."

How far turned out to be about 56 feet from his final attempt, where he fouled to wipe out the mark. Lampeter-Strasburg's Gabe Frederick finished second (52-5.24), and Lambrecht jumped two spots with his final throw to take third (49-1.5).

"I've been working on speed through the whole throw," Lambrecht said. "I lack the strength that most of these other guys have, and speed really helps get it out there."

The speed helped Lambrecht extend his lead in the discus beyond the reach of Cocalico's Josh Hoover, who finished second (153-0).

"He came up and threw 153," Lambrecht said, "and he was getting closer. I didn't want him to close the gap."

On his first attempt in the triple jump finals, Rivers widened the gap between himself and Penn Manor's Kyle Murr, who finished second (43-5).

"It felt amazing," Rivers said. "I don't think I've felt a better third phase since I hit my 48."

Julian fought through a fickle headwind to take the pole vault title before attempting to take down the meet record at 15-1. Manheim Township's Wayne Robinson cleared 14-0 to take second before bowing out.

"I'm happy with where I am now," Julian said. "I know that I have more to give if I get a nice day. I feel like I can hit 16, so I'm really confident going into districts and states."

The district meet is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg.