McCaskey senior runner Arielle Breuninger crossed the finish line in a winning time of 19 minutes and 41 seconds, and Red Tornado runners took three of the next five spots and ultimately swept Hempfield and Warwick in Tuesday’s cross country race in Lititz.
With the victories, McCaskey improved to 8-0 in Lancaster-Lebanon League competition, remaining atop the Section One standings.
The Red Tornado can win the section crown outright by sweeping Cedar Crest, last year’s section and league championship meet runners-up, and Conestoga Valley in next Tuesday’s regular season finale at McCaskey.
“This was the key to our season,” McCaskey coach Mike Craighead said. “We knew if we lost any of these final two meets it would jeopardize a chance at the title. ...we know next week we’re going to have to run even better to win the championship.”
McCaskey senior Stephen Schousen won the boys race in 16:27, a new course record, but Hempfield runners took four of the next five spots and topped the Tornado, 25-32, and Warwick, 15-50, and improved to 7-0 league, remaining atop the Section One standings.
Girls: Breuninger entered this fall as one of many top returning girls runners in the L-L. Thus far, she has beaten Elizabethtown’s Maddie Quinn and finished second behind Ephrata’s Alyssa Fedorshak.
She won Tuesday’s race ahead of Warwick freshman Ella Hartel (19:53), McCaskey freshman Isabella Shertzer and Warwick senior Anna Martin (19:59), in part by staying with a pack at the front in the first third of the race before creating some distance and pulling away down the stretch.
“I was going to stick with the girls around me, feel it out, see how the race would go,” Breuninger said. “The start was a little slower than I anticipated but I think it kind of helped me with trying to run with a more even pace.”
Boys: Schousen, who is expected to contend for the league championship in two weeks, has had a bit of an up and down start to the 2020 campaign. He blazed to a win in the season opener at Manheim Township in a time of 16:05.
“That was one of the best performances of my life,” Schousen said. “I did not bounce back very well.”
In the next race, Schousen finished a whopping 50 seconds behind Penn Manor senior Graham Thomas, another league favorite.
“I got in my head,” Schousen said. “I let go at the mile. That’s a huge mental thing for me. I have to get over that. I know I can run with him (Thomas).”
Schousen has since won his next two races, finishing Tuesday well out in front of Hempfield sophomore Aidan Hodge (16:49) and senior Evan Eshleman (16:50).
“I lost to Evan at home last year,” Schousen said. “And he ran the second-fastest time at McCaskey. I was a little salty about that. So I came in today and I wanted to take away a win against the Hempfield kids.”