Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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LL Cross Country Championships

While one runner was out to prove that last year was an exception, another was ready to do the expected when the student-athletes converged for Tuesday's Lancaster-Lebanon League cross country championships.

Both accomplished those goals in style on the course at the Ephrata Middle School.

After a disappointing finals run last season, Cocalico sophomore Jamie Zamrin came back ready and won the girls' race in 19 minutes, 19.9 seconds, topping Samantha Shields (19:28.7) of Warwick by nine seconds. Hempfield's Molly Conrad (19:33.7) was third.

The boys' competition provided little surprise as McCaskey junior Nathan Henderson repeated as champion, besting the field by more than a 10 seconds after his 15:47.8. Running on his home course, Zach Lefever (15:58.7) was second, Justin Yurchak (16:05) of Hempfield was third, and Nate Becker (16:14.0) finished fourth.

Being in good health has been key for Zamrin all season.

"I've been in a really good spot in my body. I've been healthy, strong. I am feeling great this season," she said. "Last season I was sick all the time, I wasn't confident. This year I was trying to be really confident."

Zamrin added that being rid of the freshman jitters helped, too, saying: "Last year this would've been the biggest meet of my whole life. This year I am used to it after districts and states."

Beating her best time by 10 seconds will give Zamrin plenty of confidence for the upcoming district meet.

One person who wasn't surprised by Zamrin's performance was Eagles coach Ron Derr.

"No, because I coached her for two years," he said. "That girl has a lot of drive and a lot of heart. She is one of the most driven kids I have ever been around."

Still, the day wasn't perfect for Zamrin, who laughed while explaining that she got lost twice on the course.

"That wasn't the smartest thing in the world, but I am really proud of my finish," she said. "I think the first time I got lost I saw a flag. I wasn't thinking straight. The second time, I don't know, I am not always good at directions."

Henderson, who entered as the overwhelming favorite, took a slightly different approach to Tuesday's race.

"I took it out a bit faster this year than last year because I knew that Lefever, Yurchak and (Ephrata's Nate) Becker would probably be right on my tail," he said. "It seemed a lot more hilly this year. I wanted to get 15:30, that didn't happen, but that's OK, it's still a PR for this course."

The beautiful weather at race time helped the competitors, although Henderson joked that the temperature felt hot while running. Still, he handled expectations perfectly, and now has bigger goals heading into districts.

"People kept coming up saying you are going to win this. It got kind of annoying at times," he laughed. "I just wanted to try my best. If I can I am trying to win districts, if not I am trying to get PRs."

Joel Burkholder (16:25.9) of Penn Manor rounded out the top five boys. Elizabethtown freshman Cat Shontz (19:39.0) and Hempfield's Siena Gates (19:39.3) were fourth and fifth respectively in the girls.

After not winning an L-L boys' team title since 1996, Hempfield won its second in as many years, with Yurchak, Nick Morton (sixth place) and Coby Mattes (eight) all finishing in the Top 10.

"This was our goal. We wanted to win the L-L meet," said Black Knights coach Terry Newman. "It's a great feeling to be able to watch your kids do what they set out to do."

With five runners in the top 22 finishers, Manheim Township won the girls' team competition. Kira Jenkins led the way for the Blue Streaks, placing sixth.

"It's something we've been looking forward to all season," Jenkins said. "It's really awesome. We have a lot of depth and are a really strong team. That makes training a lot better."

For the Mounts on the Boys side it was Zach Lefever 2nd, Nate Becker 4th and Rhett Hart finished 10th.

For the Mounts on the girls side it was Sydney Morgan 9th, Haley Schaller 15th, Nadine Eichenlaub 21st and Taylor Mahlandt finished 30th.