Lancaster Catholic alum Chris Hogarth now lives in Philadelphia and works as a commercial real estate agent. Donegal alum Tye Smith lives and works in Maryland. Lampeter-Strasburg alum Bess Simmons is still in Lancaster County, and the longtime manager of the Isaac’s Restaurant on Greenfield Road. Liz Hetrick (maiden name Giering) is a mother of three who works as a fitness instructor at Universal Athletic Club in Manheim Township.
Thirty-five years ago, though, they were part of a large group of Lancaster-Lebanon League student-athletes that put together one of the most memorable performances at a PIAA track & field meet.
The date was Saturday, May 18, 1985. The location was Shippensburg University. By the end of that day, more than 20 L-L runners and throwers racked up 10 gold medals, six silver medals and eight bronze medals, in addition to the Lancaster Catholic boys and Annville-Cleona girls each winning team state titles and the McCaskey boys being team state runners-up. Nine times or distances put up that day are still program records today.
“Even though the 1985 (Lancaster Catholic) team gets the credit,” Hogarth said. “A lot of other credit goes to the guys before us.”
Andy Benko, then the Lancaster Catholic coach, believes a regular season dual meet loss, a 76-74 defeat to Garden Spot, is what propelled the Crusaders to greatness in 1985. That loss snapped Lancaster Catholic’s win streak of 47-straight dual meets.
“You can’t lose much closer than that,” Benko said. “They were just crushed. ...it raised the bar a little bit.”
Hogarth, a standout sprinter, had just started running hurdles in his junior year in spring 1984. To help Hogarth improve in the craft, Benko phoned Donegal coach Rudy Milovanovic, a native of Germany who at the time had one of the state’s best hurdlers in Smith. Benko wanted Hogarth to train with Smith at Donegal, which was one of the first schools in the county to have an all-weather track, as opposed to the cinder tracks most schools competed on.
“I was beating his (Hogarth’s) butt,” Smith said of those early practices. “We were running 300s. I was waxing him.”
Smith has quite the lineage. His dad ran a leg of Columbia’s 1962 state champion mile relay team. One of his uncles was a district champion runner for Donegal. Another uncle, Ronnie Smith of Columbia, was one of the first two student-athletes to win four state titles in the hurdles in the 1960s and went on to compete at Tennessee State University.
“At one point he was ranked No. 5 in the world hurdles,” Smith said.
Hogarth edged Tye Smith by a quarter of a second in the Class 3A 300 hurdles at the state meet. Times from both runners in the event (38.04 seconds for Hogarth, 38.3 seconds for Smith) are both still program records.
The outcome surprised Smith.
“When we got to states. I thought I was going to win two golds,” Smith said. “I was in Lane Three, ‘Hogey’ was in Lane Four. The gun sounded, he (Hogarth) took off. I’m like, ‘Where is he going?’ I wasn’t even tired and he beat me. ...I think he was running scared.”
Smith was running scared for a different reason in the 110 high hurdles when he beat Hogarth in a photo finish at the line.
“I actually pulled a hamstring warming up,” Smith said. “I never told anybody that.”
The Hogarth-Smith battle was one of many highlights for the L-L that day. Others included Annville-Cleona sophomore Leslie Hummer winning Class 2A gold medals in the 100-meter dash (12.14 seconds) and triple jump (program record 38 feet, 2 ¼ inches) along with a bronze medal in the long jump (16-8 ½), while Hetrick won a pair of silver medals in the Class 3A 100 and 200 races along with a bronze in the 400. Her time of 11.98 seconds in the 100-meter dash was the new program record then, and is now program’s second-best mark and the L-L’s sixth-fastest time.
“My technique never was that great,” Hetrick recalled. “My first race as a freshman I ran 12.2 in the 100. ...I worked on it (technique) and improved. I was just glad to crack 12 seconds.”
Considering the many medals tallied up that day by L-L athletes, it’s impossible to encapsulate everyone’s journey in one story. So for the sake of time, we’ll squeeze in one more.
Near the end of the meet, Lancaster Catholic needed to win the mile relay in order to claim the team state title.
“Our mile relay team had been struggling all year,” Hogarth said. “I don’t remember why but we just couldn’t do it.”
Hogarth was the anchor leg, getting the baton from Stephon Tuell.
“Tuell was in fourth or fifth place when he got the baton,” Hogarth said. “I watched him come around the last turn and he passed everybody.”
Hogarth got the baton in first place.
“It was joy and instant panic,” Hogarth said.
Lancaster Catholic won the event by half a second with a time of 3:21.8.
It’s still the program record.
Here’s the full list of accomplishments by L-L runners and throwers from the
Class 2A girls:
Leslie Hummer, Annville-Cleona: first place, 100 meter dash, 12.14 seconds; third place, long jump, 16-8 ½; first place, triple jump, 38-2 ¼ (still program record)
Sue Wolfe, Annville-Cleona, first place, 400 meter dash, 57.85 seconds
Annville-Cleona, second place, 400 meter relay, 50.25 seconds
Donegal, sixth place, 1600 meter relay, 4:07.46 seconds
Bess Simmons, Lampeter-Strasburg, shot put, 38-6 ¾ (still program record)
Annville-Cleona, first place, team points standings
Class 3A girls:
Liz Giering, Manheim Township, second place, 100 meter dash, 11.98 seconds; second place, 200 meter dash, 25.01 seconds; third place, 400 meter dash, 56.61 seconds (still program record)
Christine O’Donell, Lancaster Catholic, second place, 1600 meter run, 4:55.9 (still program record); third place, 3200 meter run, 11:00.78 (still program record)
Class 2A boys:
Tye Smith, Donegal, first place, 110 hurdles, 14.69 seconds; second place, 300 hurdles, 38.3 seconds (still program record)
Chris Hogarth, Lancaster Catholic, second place, 110 hurdles, 14.70 seconds; first place, 300 hurdles, 38.05 seconds (still program record)
Lancaster Catholic, fourth place, 400 meter relay, 43.64 seconds; first place, 1600 meter relay, 3:21.8 seconds (still program record); third place, 3200 meter relay, 8:00.19
Steve France, Lancaster Catholic, fourth place, discus, 141-6
Don Schoelkoph, Columbia, fifth place, javelin, 193-5
Lancaster Catholic, first place, team points standings
Class 3A boys:
Darrell Montgomery, McCaskey, fourth place, 100 meter dash, 10.88 seconds
Scott Ford, McCaskey, fifth place, 100 meter dash, 10.96 seconds; fourth place, 200 meter dash, 22.19 seconds
Jeff Glass, McCaskey, third place, discus, 158-11; first place, javelin, 221-0 (still program record)
Chris Campbell, Elizabethtown, fourth place, discus, 209-3
McCaskey, second place, team points standings