In its quest to repeat as York-Adams League Division II champion, the Eastern York girls’ track and field team has hit a packed stretch run.
It's one that features several battles against some of the county’s best and some chances to prove it is still among the area’s elite.
Between invitational and league meets, starting with Wednesday’s 123-27 win at home against Susquehannock, the Golden Knights will have participated in seven meets in a span of 17 days.
One of the most notable of those stops is Friday at the annual Herb Schmidt Relays at York Suburban High School.
“With the invitationals, we sort of look at one or two events for each kid. But at the same time, we consider being fresh for dual meets,” head coach Joel Jacobs said after Wednesday’s victory. “So it’s sort of a balancing game. I always tell the kids ‘At this point, team comes first.”
The 57th edition of the annual event provides athletes with an opportunity to have some fun competing without the pressure of league competition. There are also a number of events unique to the meet, including co-ed races and an entertaining co-ed hurdles relay.
It also gives participants a barometer as to where they stand compared to the competition heading toward the league and district meets.
Strong relays: One group that will look to make a statement over the next few weeks is the Golden Knights’ 3,200 relay team.
Relays are important in a dual meet because they are five-point, winner-take-all events. In other races, teams can minimize the points gained by their opponent for winning a race (5) by gaining second- and third-place finishes.
“It’s really hard to win a dual meet without winning two of the three relays,” Jacobs said. “That’s one of the things I always try to focus on. And it also shows a little bit of the strength of your team to start off in that 3,200 relay and set the tone with a strong effort.”
When you’ve got teams such as Eastern and Suburban, which are heading for a dual-meet showdown on Wednesday at Suburban, every point will likely matter. Both teams will enter Wednesday's meet at 5-0 in York-Adams Division II. In addition, the Trojans and Golden Knights have posted two of the area’s top times in the 3,200 relay this season.
Eastern also spots very competitive 400 and 1,600 relays.
However, with the Shippensburg Relays set for the next Saturday, neither team will be able to do much advanced scouting.
“I did that at Northern (the Arctic Blast invitational on April 16 at Northern York),” Jacobs said. “I did that a lot because those were individual events. They’re going to be in same situation we are Friday, who’s running at Ship and who’s running there. They’ll probably stack their teams a little more, though, because it’s their invitational.”
In fact, Jacobs says that he is still yet to run his “best” team. But there's little doubt that group will be deployed on Wednesday.
The Trojans are looking to return to the top of the division they won in 2014 and stop what would be Eastern’s third repeat since 2003-2004, with the other coming in 2008-09.
Next week: When the Golden Knights make their second trip to the Trojans’ track next week, they’ll look to standout Maddie McLain to key their success. McLain, a top performer in the league during her fall cross country season, is again atop the distance running scene in the spring.
McLain won the 1,600 race at the Arctic Blast. Teammates Arielle Stigelman (100) and Maura DeReamer (discus) were also winners at the meet.
Suburban counters with some distance prowess of its own in Olivia Gettle and a stout 3,200 relay squad that has posted some of the league’s top times this season.
Both teams have power in the field. Eastern has DeReamer (javelin), as well as some top jumpers in Taylor Currier and Anna Thacker (triple jump), along with Janelle Housman (long jump). All have posted some of the county’s best marks in league meets this season.
In the spirit of keeping things close, Suburban is no slouch off the track either. Morgan Taylor (shot put), Grace Tyson (pole vault) and Madelyn Whitney (high jump) will lead the Trojans’ charge in the field.
Locking it up: If the Golden Knights defeat the Trojans on Wednesday, they can then clinch their fourth division title in 10 years with a win against Gettysburg on May 4.
Entering action Wednesday, there were three undefeated teams in Division II — the Knights, Trojans and Gettysburg. However, the Trojans knocked the Warriors from those ranks with Wednesday’s 81-69 victory.
A win for the Trojans on Wednesday would give them their eighth division title since 2000.
There’s little time to rest after the Suburban relays. Eastern is set to participate at Saturday’s Shippensburg Relays. The following week brings more invitational action, with Dallastown hosting its big meet on Friday, April 29.
The series concludes with Eastern hosting multiple teams for the Battle for the Bridge on Friday, May 6.
Once things calm down, after hosting their own invitational, the Knights will have a week to rest before heading back to Dallastown for the York-Adams Championships on Friday, May 13.
— Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org