SPRING GROVE -- Looking back on the last 12 months, Kelsey Ibarra admits it's probably the toughest stretch she has been through in her athletic career.
That might sound strange considering the Central York senior didn't compete at all during much of that time frame, thanks to a medical condition that kept her out of action.
"I missed it a lot," Ibarra said. "It was really hard to come to the meets and watch my team run. I was so upset. But I got my mind right over the summer."
Ibarra made those comments shortly after taking first place with a time of 19 minutes, 58 seconds during a rainy-and-wet cross country quad meet Tuesday afternoon at Spring Grove Intermediate School. She completed the course nearly 90 seconds ahead of teammate and second-place finisher Emily Loeffelholz.
Panthers' runners Brooke Buzynski and Madelyn Warntz took third and fourth, respectively, to round out the top four. The efforts helped Central defeat Dallastown (19-38), Spring Grove (16-47) and South Western (16-47). As a result, the Panthers clinched the York-Adams League Division I title with a 6-0 record. It marks the fourth time in the last five years Central won the division after finishing second to Red Lion last season.
Ibarra: Just two years ago, the speedy Ibarra made waves on the cross country scene as a sophomore when she won the District 3 Class AAA championship. She was also the top local finisher in the state competition, taking 44th place. Later in the spring of 2011, Ibarra qualified for the PIAA Class AAA track events in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs.
However, it was during the final months of that spring season when she didn't feel right.
"It was stuff I was battling for awhile," said Ibarra, who didn't disclose her precise medical condition. "The doctors told me I needed to take time off. But I'm good now."
Indeed, Ibarra is good again. Just last week she established a new girls' course record at York Township Park with a time of 20:06. It will probably be scarier for her competitors after learning Ibarra believes this is the "healthiest I've ever felt."
Team: Ibarra isn't alone, though. Central had 10 runners place in the top 20 on Tuesday.
"I think overall those girls are on a mission and all I'm doing is trying to guide a missile," new Central cross country coach Randy Mumford said. "They know where they want to get to. They have very high goals. All I try to do is make sure I challenge them to become as good as they can."
Casey Kemp (Dallastown) took fifth, followed by Lynne Mooradian (South Western), Elizabeth DiBiase (Dallastown), Rebecca Miller (Spring Grove), Megan Blum (Dallastown) and Elizabeth Malda (Dallastown) to round out the top 10.
Boys: In boys' competition at Spring Grove, Dallastown junior Patrick Reilly took first in 16:41. He finished seven seconds ahead of South Western's Ryan Hertzog. Both runners broke the previous course record.
Reilly and Hertzog were about even for the first half of the race before Reilly started gaining ground halfway through a wooded area behind the school.
"Up in the woods it was kind of narrow and we were fighting for position," Reilly said. "I almost slipped a few times coming around the turns."
Hertzog was one of four South Western runners who placed in the top 10, joining teammates Jaden Sanders (fifth), Kirk Mummert (sixth) and Sean Peeling (ninth). The Mustangs defeated Dallastown (21-34), Central (24-34) and Spring Grove (21-35) to move into a first-place tie in Division I with Red Lion with identical 5-0 records.
Spring Grove's Hunter Miller passed Central runner Conrad Martin in the final 20 yards to take third. Rockets' runner Taylor Gardner edged Central's Bryce Lerew at the line to take seventh.
OTHER BOYS' MEET
WARRIORS RECORD THREE VICTORIES: At Glen Rock, Susquehannock placed five runners among the first 15 finishers to earn victories over Delone Catholic (25-30), York Catholic (26-32) and Northeastern (24-31). Delone's Nick Poole won the race in 17:50. Susquehannock's Jake Thomas came in second followed by Ben Linne of Northeastern, Tucker Ebersole of York Catholic and Ryan Sevret of Northeastern. Delone finished 2-1 on the day, while Northeastern was 1-2 and York Catholic was 0-3. Delone finished at 6-0 to win the York-Adams Division III title.
OTHER GIRLS' MEET
SQUIRETTES' MOWREY LEADS THE WAY: At Glen Rock, Delone's Kate Mowrey covered the 3.1-mile course in 21:13 to win the race and help her team defeat Susquehannock (26-29), Northeastern (15-50) and York Catholic (19-36). Susquehannock's Rachel Bancheire finished second, followed by Delone Catholic's Sara Bischoff, Susquehannock's Emily Fourhman and Delone's Andrea Rescinitti. Susquehannock finished 2-1 on the day, while York Catholic was 1-2 and Northeastern was 0-3. Delone clinched the York-Adams Division III title with a 6-0 record.
-- Reach John Walk at email@example.com.