Wednesday, January 24, 2018
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Mounting Another Charge


The Ephrata girls' track team is once again proving the axiom that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
But the Mountaineers do have some really good parts.
 
Led by four wins from junior Kelly Liebl, the two-time defending section champion Mounts (3-0 L-L) took down host Garden Spot (2-1) by a 95 1/2-54 1/2 margin Wednesday in a Section Two dual meet with title implications.
 
On the boys' side, the reigning section champ Spartans (3-0) got three wins from Malik Parsons en route to an 85-64 triumph over the Mounts (0-3).
"It was a big meet for us," said Liebl, who took the 100 (12.4), 200 (26.2), long jump (16-7 3/4) and anchored the winning 400 relay (51.8).
 
"And we knew we had to rise to the occasion, because Garden Spot is such a tough team," Liebl continued. "We did. We all did, from the ones that won to the girls that got the seconds and thirds and pushed the girls beside them."
 
"I think they have a bright future ahead of them," GS first-year coach Chris Epler said of the Ephrata girls. "We didn't have quite enough to compete with them."
 
"We were really focused coming here," Ephrata coach John Keller said. "The girls kind of had a chip on their shoulder, wanting t o prove they were more than just 2013 300 hurdles state champion) Mary (Witmer). The team, at times, kind of got overshadowed some last year, so they wanted to make a statement. It was rather humbling to me the way they put the effort out, their hustle, their desire to win."
 
As Keller pointed out, last year's team, which claimed the L-L League Meet crown, was more than just Witmer. And this year's squad is more than just Liebl.
 
What Keller called a "very versatile and deep distance crew" got things rolling Wednesday, with Taylor Mahlandt, Jordan Carvell, Vanessa Hurst and Andrea Castillo running away with the 3,200 relay in 10:28.9.
 
"We came out and took charge," Liebl said of that foursome dominating the opening race. Mahlandt, a sophomore who did not run as a freshman, later added a win in the 8OO (2:31.4). Castillo led a 1-2 finish in the 400 (62.8), junior Madison Fox claimed the 3,200 (12:29.8) and freshman Haley Schaller won the 1,600 (5:31).
 
Erica Voigt added a win in the triple jump (33-3/4) and Kay Liebl the pole vault (8-0) for the Mounts, who also won the 1,600 relay in 4:28.2.
 
Overall, Ephrata outscored Garden Spot 66-21 in track events and 22-13 in the jumps, while the Spartans won the throws 20-7.
 
Included in those throwing wins was a javelin toss of 130-8 by Spot senior Ryleigh Blakely. That distance was a 20-plus foot improvement for Blakely and would have placed sixth at states last year.
 
In the boys' meet, Parsons won back-too-back events by taking the 100 (11.2) on the heels of winning the high hurdles (15.5). He was also on the winning 1600 relay (3:40.9). There was some discussion among the coaches and officials as to whether there was illegal contact in that race, but the officials ruled that there wasn't so Garden Spot kept the win.
 
Robbie Jeffers added wins in the high jump (5-9) and triple jump (41-4 1/2) and a second in the long jump (19-6 1/4) for the Spartans. He also helped out the winning 400 relay (46.7).
 
While the Ephrata girls are past their biggest obstacles in the race for the section crown, the Garden Spot boys still have their biggest challenges ahead, including an April 14 home contest with Lampeter-Strasburg (2-0) and a visit to Manheim Central (3-0) on April 22.