Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Grabbing a Gold One

Mary Witmer set the gold standard for the Ephrata girls' track and field program.
And Saturday afternoon, she took it one step farther when Witmer became the first Mountaineer girl to win a state championship.
"When someone works for something -- and we certainly work her hard -- it's nice to see them get the ultimate reward,'' Ephrata coach John Keller said. "And she did it.''
Witmer was the lone champion from Lancaster County in the girls' PIAA Track and Field Championships, which concluded on a bright but chilly Saturday afternoon at Shippensburg University.
She won the Class AAA 300-meter intermediate hurdles in 42.90 seconds, a solid time considering she was running into the stiff breeze for the majority of her race. That time also made the National Federation of High Schools National Honor Roll -- meaning it was one of the best in the country.
There wasn't much drama for Witmer, who hasn't been challenged much this season and who ran a 42.11 to set the District Three record on this same track May 18.
"Despite the weather, I gave it my best effort,'' said Witmer, who will attend Liberty University on an athletic scholarship in the fall.
"I got my first gold. I'm happy,'' she said. "I feel so blessed.''
"It was awesome,'' Keller said, emphasizing each word. "She's worked very hard for this. She's earned every bit of what she's got. I am so proud of her.''
As for that first state title, Keller said he and his coaches, especially assistant Todd Ream, who works with the hurdlers, watched the race unfold almost in textbook fashion.
Ephrata's Mary Witmer celebrater her gold-medal run
in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles (© Andy Blackburn / Intelligencer)
"She got out strong, and felt a little competition,'' Keller said of Witmer's run. "Then she said 'I'm not going to have none of it. This is my year.'
''Then she took off. There wasn't going to be anyone catching her.''
Witmer's challenge ended up coming from Hempfield Area sophomore Maddie Holmberg and not second-seeded Kayla Coley of Cheltenham.
"I was surprised to see (Holmberg) next to me, not Coley,'' Witmer said.
Holmberg, who ended up second in 43.65, stuck around the longest, but didn't really threaten. Coley ended up seventh in 47.06, almost two seconds off her seed time.
"It's an amazing feeling for the first state champion you have,'' Keller said. "It couldn't happen to a better person.''
NOTES: Ephrata's Crystal Hartman uncorked a throw of 129-11 in the Javelin to earn a 7th place finish and a state medal. Also competing for the Mounts were the 4x400 team, which finished third in their heat with a time of 4:02.77. Kelly Liebl also competed in two other events, she finished 4th in her heat for the 200 Meter Dash with a time of 26.49, and finished 27th overall in the Long Jump with a jump of 16-7.25.