Eagles get best of Husky boys, girls

LEWISTOWN – The Cumberland Valley boys are a pretty good match for Mifflin County – when the latter is at full strength, which was not the case Thursday.

The Cumberland Valley girls are one of the Mid-Penn’s elite teams, and would be a handful for the Huskies under any circumstance.

The end result from the Eagles’ visit was that Mifflin County got its wings clipped. In the boys meet, the Huskies dropped an 88-62 decision; the girls fell to Cumberland Valley by a 99-50 score.

If it was a game of numbers, the visiting team won hands down, something that was exemplified in the distance races, where the track was covered by red and white uniforms, with the occasional purple accent showing through.

“We talked earlier in the season, it may even have been preseason, about competing in the Mid-Penn. We knew coming into that depth was going to be one of our main concerns,” Mifflin County coach Scott Gantz said.

But quality can beat quantity every day in track and field, and there was no lack of effort on the part of the Huskies. It just turned out that, for all the effort that a few turned into good position, there were times that the superiority of Cumberland Valley was in more than the roster size.

The Eagles had the only event sweeps of the day – the relays and the 400-meter dash in the boys meet; the long jump, pole vault and discus on the girls side – but also won the battle for place. That was especially true for the boys, the meet that the locals had the best chance of winning.

“It’s nice to finish first. But the seconds and thirds absolutely are what win meets for you,” Gantz said.

The highlights included Nathan Baumgardner, who won both boys hurdle races and the long jump, and Kezia Loht, who took the girls 100-meter dash and turned in an inspiring run as the 4×100 anchor to win that race.

“Kezia had a good meet for us,” Gantz said. “The girls 4×400, they PR’d again today. We have a lot of kids that are moving in the right direction.”

The boys also got a win from Jon Colwell, who took the 3,200 by seven seconds after a three-second difference put him second in the 1,600. Brice Christine was tops in the high jump, and Zach Long had an impressive 176-foot, 2-inch throw in the javelin for first, while teammate Luke Bender took second to make it an eight-point event.

Long and Makala Rearick, who won the girls shot put at 37-5 1/4, are both sophomores, which makes for a positive future outlook in the field.

“We’re still in the developmental stages,” Gantz said. “There hasn’t been a meet that we’ve gone to that the coaches on the other team haven’t been impressed with our team.”

Also taking firsts for the Mifflin County girls were Megan Becker in the 400 and Grace Wagner in the javelin; Wagner teamed up with Makayla Pearce for eight points.

“We knew coming into this one that it was going to be tough regardless, with us being down a few kids,” Gantz said. “The results would have probably been the same at this point in the season.”

One thing that didn’t help any of the runners – especially the sprinters – was an unusual headwind coming down the front stretch of the track.

“It was an oddity to have the wind coming from the other direction. That’s something you have to deal with,” Gantz said. “A lot of the places we travel aren’t going to have a tail wind. It could very well be a good thing that happened for us today.”

The losses even the slate at 2-2 – overall and in the Commonwealth Division – for both the boys and girls, who make their second visit to Landis Field Tuesday, this time for a meeting with Central Dauphin. It’s not the same as the past, when local teams were able to dominate the Mountain League, but a pair of coaches – Gantz and Cumberland Valley’s Bill Bixler – are happy with the current arrangement.

“He said that he was glad to see us in the conference. We bring a lot to the conference,” Gantz explained. “I told him that we’re absolutely glad to be in the Mid-Penn. We were finding ourselves probably getting a little bit complacent. Down here, you’re going to work to be .500, and it’s making our kids better – it really is, from top to bottom.”