TUESDAY'S TRACK & FIELD: Some head-turning performances at Red Lion-Spring Grove opener

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
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Red Lion

SPRING GROVE — It was certainly a good feeling Tuesday afternoon for all of the athletes on the Red Lion and Spring Grove track-and-field teams.

For the first time in nearly 21 months, the thrill of live competition was finally alive and well.

Simply having the opportunity to participate in a real meet brought a smile to both coaches and athletes alike after the COVID-19 pandemic brought about the cancellation of last year’s entire spring season.

While it is very early, there were still more than a handful of head-turning performances during the day. That is saying something, especially after such a long delay.

The Red Lion boys' 400-meter relay team broke a school record, A.J. Virata showed off his blazing speed in the 1,600 relay and Spring Grove freshman Laila Campbell was impressive in the 100 and 200 dashes despite having less than a week of practice under her belt.

The final outcome — a 101-48 victory for the Red Lion boys and a 104-45 triumph for the Red Lion girls — probably means less to both squads compared to the chance to take part in a meet for the first time since May of 2019.

“They were hungry,” Red Lion boys’ track coach Todd Barshinger said. “It’s been a long time to just to be able to get out and see where we’re at.”

Lions coach enthusiastic about his team: Barshinger was excited, but only had a vague idea about his team’s makeup heading into the opener at Spring Grove High School. Tuesday’s meet, however, left him feeling even more enthusiastic about his team's prospects.

“We have kids in the field that were throwing (shot put) in the 30s (in practice) and today we had three of them in the 40s,” Barshinger said. “And our 4x100 team broke a school record for us. You don’t see records getting broken like that in the first meet of the season.”

Record breakers: Dane Strausbaugh, Virata, Jeff Nyamekye and Randy Fizer broke the two-year old record with a blistering time of 42.74 seconds.

“We’re lucky enough to get some kids out that play other sports,” Barshinger said. “And they get to see that track gets them faster. And they’re encouraging to try to get other kids out.”

Fizer and Nyamekye are football standouts. Virata, a basketball standout, turned heads with his leg of the 1,600 relay. When Virata took the baton he faced about a 10-meter deficit.

It didn’t take long for Virata to showcase his speed. He quickly zoomed past his opponent on the first turn.

Virata’s time of just more than 50 seconds turned a 10-meter deficit into a 50-meter edge by the time he was done.

“Today we had him third, but I don’t think that’s going to be his normal spot,” Barshinger said. “And that wasn’t even our full (relay) team there. A 50 is pretty good, but he’s run splits of 49 before.”

Campbell shines: Campbell, who was on the court a week ago for the Spring Grove girls’ basketball team in the PIAA Class 5-A playoffs, put on a display en route to impressive wins in both the 100 and 200 dashes.

That came as no surprise to Campbell’s basketball coach, Troy Sowers.

“She won’t lose that race,” Sowers said about Campbell’s time in 200.

An all-state nominee in basketball this year (official results won’t be released until early April), Campbell may be an even better competitor on the track and in the field.

Several coaches said during the season that as impressive as she was on the basketball court — 16.2 points per game average, 10.1 rebounds per game and 3.1 steals per game — she may have an even brighter career in the spring.

“I’m still trying to get my track legs under me,” Campbell said. “I’ve been practicing with the basketball team for a while so I’m not used to running that long.”

Campbell’s father, Brian, who is the coach of the Spring Grove’s boys’ track team, mentioned that they limited Laila to just the 100 and 200, as well as the javelin, just to be careful not to overdo things. She finished second in the javelin.

If Tuesday’s results are any indication of what the future holds, other teams certainly need to look out.

“I’ve only had a few days of training,” Laila Campbell said. “So my times (:12.76 in the 100 and :26.15 in the 200) aren’t where they should be yet, but I know that it is going to get better as the season goes on.”

OTHER BOYS' MEETS

West York 108, New Oxford 41: At New Oxford, the Bulldogs captured first in 15 of the 18 events. Individually for the Bulldogs, Nico Wright-Phillips captured first in the 100 and 200 dashes, Joey DeJesus won the 400 run and javelin and Justin Stough won the long jump and triple jump. 

York Suburban 79, Susquehannock 70: At Glen Rock, Logan Zeiders led the Trojans to the York-Adams Division II victory by taking first in the 200 and 400 runs. Individually for the Warriors, Atticus Silbaugh won the javelin and pole vault. 

Bermudian Springs 82, Delone Catholic 67: At York Springs, Kobe Althoff won the pole vault and shot put to lead Bermudian. Ryan Murphy (100 dash, 300 hurdles, high jump) and Trenton Kopp (200 dash, long jump, triple jump) each won three events for Delone. Aden Davis won the 1,600 and 3,200 runs for the Squires.

South Western 123, Northeastern 24: At Hanover, Bernard Bell (110 and 300 hurdles) and Charles Gaither (shot put, discus) each won two individual events to lead the Mustangs to the win. Cole Perry (1,600, 3,200 runs) and Kaden Hamilton (long jump, triple jump) each won two individual events for Northeastern.

Dover 84, Kennard-Dale 61: At Fawn Grove, the Eagles captured the season opener against the Rams.

OTHER GIRLS' MEETS

New Oxford 102, West York 48: At New Oxford, the Colonials were led individually by Emily Kraus capturing first in the 1,600 and 800 runs, Maya Richwine winning the 100 and 300 hurdles and Rylee Haugh winning the triple jump and high jump. For the Bulldogs, Carleigh Garvick won the 100 and 400 runs.

Susquehannock 80, York Suburban 70: At Glen Rock, as a team, the Warriors secured 44 points in the field events to capture the York-Adams Division II victory. For the Trojans, Olivia Kay won the 100 and 300 hurdles, while Brooke Sargen won the 1,600 and 3,200 runs and Gabby Delphiagho won the 200 and 400 runs.

Delone Catholic 87, Bermudian Springs 63: At York Springs, Sam Smith won the 800 and 1,600 runs to lead Delone. Allison Watts won the 100 and 200 dashes for the Eagles, while also winning the long and triple jumps. Lilly LaBure added wins in the 100 hurdles and 400 run for Bermudian.

South Western 108, Northeastern 40: At Hanover, Maddie Lehker (javelin, long jump, high jump) and Zaiyah Marshall (100 dash, 200 dash, triple jump) each won three individual events to pace the Mustangs. Kayla Leppo (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles) and Sofia Harnois (shot put, discus) each added two individual wins for South Western. Northeastern's Margaret Carroll won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 runs.

Dover 112, Kennard-Dale 35: At Fawn Grove, the Eagles dominated in the season-opening event for both teams.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.