East Juniata gets best of Mount Union
Tigers’ depth outpaces Trojans’ youth
MOUNT UNION — Happiness has different definitions, especially for high school coaches.
Two of them were smiling Tuesday despite coming out on opposite ends of a season-opening track meet.
East Juniata got by Mount Union twice in the nonleague event. The Tiger boys had an easy run, so to speak, winning 91-59. The girls were 85-65 winners.
“We’re happy,” East Juniata coach Cory Benner said.
It was more than a bit of understatement on his part.
“We were pretty positive with the scrimmage that we ran against West Perry. We’ve been pretty close with Mount Union the last few years with the score so it was nice to come in here and get a win,” he said.
The difference in outcome was based less on who won each event, but who took the back points. Mount Union won only six of 18 events in the girls meet, which was closer, while taking seven firsts in the boys.
“The veterans performed well for us today, which I was hoping they would do,” Mount Union coach Bob Wydock said of his boys. “For their first meet, you can’t ask for anything more. They performed to the best of their ability and it’s good that they got this experience in today. We’re looking forward to gaining more experience and to improve on their times, distances and heights.”
A quartet of East Juniata boys had two individual wins apiece — Bryce Martin, Christian Benner and Albert Heister, all on the track, and Riley Hepner in the field — while the home team had just one repeat.
East Juniata’s Kierstyn Fogle was the lone athlete with three individual wins. Mount Union got a pair from Cindy Jiang. But it was more spread out overall, with the Tigers getting a lot of help from familiar names from other sports who are back in track.
“We had some people come out who weren’t out last year, like Alyssa Hibbs, that were able to come back,” Benner said. He also had athletes best known from the school’s state-caliber soccer team — like Hibbs, and softball transfer Thea Niemond — who bring depth.
“We were able to pick up some of those veterans who were out last year. We’ll take it this year and we’ll hopefully continue to build the program,” Benner said. “We’ve got our numbers up this year, we’ve got some depth this year, we’ve got some talent this year. We’re pretty pleased with where we’re at right now.”
For Mount Union, the performance by the girls may have been better than expected. They, too, are young but were able to put enough points on the board to at least have a chance.
“We had a number of our athletes on the girls side step up today and perform very well for the first meet. I was pleased, especially with the girls who were able to take some first-place finishes and then fill in in the seconds and thirds,” Wydock said. “We always run good against them. There’s some good camaraderie with East Juniata. Everyone works hard and tries to perform their best.”
“I think we did well in just about all areas. You’re trying to balance points with health and all that kind of stuff,” Benner said.
He also admitted to at least a modicum of envy for Mount Union’s youth movement, which bodes well for the team’s future.
“I was joking around with (Wydock),” he added. He has 21 freshmen — and I’ll tell you what, I would love to have 21 freshmen. They are going to be an absolute force here in a year or two, no doubt about it. They’ve got a really bright future ahead of them.”
Mount Union (0-1 both boys and girls) travels to Southern Fulton on Thursday. East Juniata (1-0 both) opens its Tri-Valley League season at Greenwood April 2.