Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Ephrata Girls Stay Perfect

When they find themselves in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes through for them, sprinting, jumping, hurdling, whatever they need.
So it's not exactly the Beatles, but with "Mother Mary'' Witmer sparking the squad—both in performance and motivation—the Ephrata girls' track and field team kept its unscathed record intact Friday with an 85-65 Section Two victory over visiting Garden Spot.
The Spartan boys (3-0) also remained unbeaten, as Malik Parsons won two individual events and was on a pair of victorious relays in a 125 2/3-24 1/3 triumph over Ephrata (0-3).
"We knew from the beginning, we wanted to come out loud and intimidating,'' said Witmer, who took the high hurdles (15.0), intermediate hurdles (46.3), triple jump (season-best 35-8) and 400 (60.9). She got a run for her money from Spot's Hannah Williams (15.4) in the high hurdles.
"We wanted no negative thoughts at all on our team. We tried to get into (Garden Spot's) heads, and I think we did that by doing what we did,'' Witmer added.
What the Mounts (3-0) did was dominate on the track, scoring 59 of their 85 points and winning 10 of the 11 events against Spot (2-1).
That offset a 20-7 Spartans advantage in the throws, while the jumps were almost even, with Ephrata holding just a 19-17 edge.
"We earmarked the 4x8 (3,200 relay), 1,600 and 800 as key events,'' Ephrata coach John Keller said, and the Mounts won all three.
Andrea Castillo, Nicole Wilkerson, Jordan Carvell and Vanessa Hurst teamed to take the opening relay in 10:07.9.
Carvell (5:36.5) and Hurst (5:38.6) went 1-2 in the 1,600 by overtaking Spot's Katie Ross (5:41.7) with about 300 meters left after Ross took the brunt of the wind for the first three laps.
And Keller said Wilkerson (2:31.3) "showed a lot of moxie" by passing the Spartans' Erin Shirk (2:32.1) with about 20 meters left in the 800, with Ephrata's Castillo (2:34.7) grabbing third.
In all, the Mounts outscored the Spartans 19-4 in those events Keller labeled as pivotal.
"We answered everything they threw at us,'' Keller said, "and they threw everything at us.''
"Ephrata's girls' team is, and I hate to use the cliche', but they are everything we thought they are,'' Spot coach Russ White said. "We put everything into (the meet) we had. We really did everything that our girls could.
"I thought we provided a lot of excitement for them and, certainly, we came away with a lot of personal records. We're just a little bit too young. It's just a matter of getting some more experience.''
Experience is something that Ephrata has plenty of, even if not all of its standouts are seniors.
Sophomore Kelly Liebl had another star-making day, winning the 100 (12.4), 200 (26.3), long jump (15-6 3/4) and teaming with Moriah Pfautz, Yasmina Davis and younger sister Kay Liebl to grab the 400 relay in 52.4.
"We all knew what was expected of us, and it's up to every individual to be mentally prepared as well,'' Liebl said. "Everyone pretty much knows what they need to do to accomplish our goals. 'Mother Mary,' as we call Mary Witmer, makes sure of it.''
The initial goal is to repeat as section champs, and Ephrata already has overcome two huge hurdles in the Spartans and Lampeter-Strasburg (112-48 win March 22). An April 22 date at Cocalico (3-0) remains its biggest obstacle.