York and Lancaster have long been athletic rivals.
It really doesn't matter the sport — high school football and basketball, Atlantic League baseball or local golf. The two cities, separated by 25 miles and the Susquehanna River, like to battle for athletic supremacy. It's a natural and healthy thing.
To make a true rivalry, however, there has to be real competition involved. When one team continually beats up on the other, the luster of the rivalry is greatly diminished. It's hard for a nail to have a rivalry with a hammer.
Well, you can consider the Junior War of the Roses golf competition a bona fide rivalry now.
The event just completed its 11th renewal last week. For the first nine meetings, however, Lancaster County owned their counterparts from York County. Some the meetings were close. Many weren't. But the results were always the same. Lancaster won.
Until 2013, when the Yorkers finally turned the tables with a 17-11 triumph at Out Door Country Club in York.
Last Friday, the York junior golfers proved last year was no fluke by grabbing an impressive 23-5 road triumph over Lancaster at Meadia Heights.
The performance by the York team left Shane Stell smiling for ear to ear.
"This year's War of the Roses was a turning of the tide, we believe, for the York program's future and for the competition between Lancaster (and York) overall," said Stell, who is tour co-director for the York County Junior Golf Association.
Stell was most pleased with the way the York junior golfers conducted themselves during their trip over the river.
"They represented themselves and the York County junior golf program as (well) as anyone could ever ask for," he said. "All the kids played (their) hearts out in each and every match that was played, whether they won or lost."
The War of the Roses, for those who aren't familiar, is a Ryder Cup-style match-play event. Each team consists of two girls, four 15-and-under boys and eight 18-and-under boys. The York team included Julianne Lee, Victoria Ross, Justin Gruver, Carson Bacha, Zach Dixon, Evan Greenplate, Connor Bacha, Gus Minkin, Andrew Davis, Kevin Crumbling, Andy Stewart, Dylan Reichard, Axel Hartman and Nick Geiman. The two team captains were John Bagnall and Michael Bair.
The competition included seven better-ball of partners event and seven alternate-shot partner events. Both of the partner events were played over nine holes. That was followed by 14 singles matches.
York fared very well in the partner events, taking a 6-1 edge in the better-ball contests and a 4-3 advantage in the alternate-shot events. It was in singles where York really shined, however, nearly managing a clean sweep. York won 13 of the 14 singles matches, many in dominating fashion. Everyone on the team contributed at least one point to the victory.
While Stell enjoyed his team's strong performance, he was especially proud of the way the Yorkers bonded as a team.
"These kids have turned a summer golf tour into friendships that go way beyond the events themselves," he said. "... You could see how they worked together in helping one another over the day's competition and how they encouraged each other when they seemed to lose their momentum in their matches. This closeness made this team truly special for every one of those kids."
This has been a very special summer for junior golfers across York County, with a string of dazzling performances.
Much of the credit for that success belongs to Stell and the many other volunteers with the YCJGA. They provided the needed infrastructure and the local juniors provided the natural talent.
Together, they combined for a performance that York County can be proud of.
Yes, the tide has turned. The nail has become the hammer. And a true rivalry has been born.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.