The spring sports season officially kicked off on March 2nd, but for many track and field athletes, the outdoor season is a continuation of the hard work they put in this winter. Even with the threat of a lost season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, expect the leagues best to continue to put in the hard work track and field athletes are known for!
Lampeter-Strasburg’s Ezra Mellinger dominated the short sprints last season, winning the 100m and 200m league titles. He would go on to win the state title at 200m. Mellinger is now at Duke University, so who’ll lead the way in 2020?
JP McCaskey’s Dejon Manning and Da’Avionce Rodriguez and Warwick’s Gurby Marcellus are the top returning short sprinters from last season. All 3 have produced top times indoors. McCaskey’s Amere Dickinson and Hempfield’s Tanner Hess also figure to be in contention for top finishes this post-season.
Hess is the league’s top returning 400m runner and owns a PR of 50.78. 7 of the top 8 finishers from 2019 are back for 2020, making this one of the most competitive events. Solanco’s Colin Althoff (sr), Penn Manor’s Josenlly Martinez (jr), Hempfield’s Daegen Stoltzfus (sr), Lancaster Catholic’ Calan Titus (sr), and Annville-Cleona’s Michael Moran (jr) all broke 52-seconds last year.
Manning is one of the state’s top hurdlers. His specialty is the 300mH and he’ll be looking for state gold this season. He placed 3rd at states in 2019 running 38.03. Look for him to challenge Chance Post’s (CV) LL League all-time best time of 36.93. Derek Heisey (sr, Elizabethtown) and Loago Snavely (so, Conestoga Valley) were sub-40s performers in 2019 and will look to close the gap between themselves and Manning.
Cedar Crest’s Alex Miller (sr) is back to defend his 2019 league title in the 110mH. Look for Manning and Warwick’s Tanner Haines (jr) to challenge Miller. Haine’s finished 5th in the state this winter in the 60mH. Miller’s Cedar Crest teammate, Anthony Reese (sr), ran well this indoor season and could also be a factor.
The McCaskey 4x100m relay may also contend for state accolades. They placed 5th in the state last season and ran 42.21, good for fourth all team in LL League history. They return everyone from that 2019 squad. The league’s all-time best 4x100m performance is owned by the 2009 Red Tornado team that went 41.90.
Newcomers to watch: Aidan Wood (so, Solanco) won the Jr High Championship 100m and was 2nd in the 200m in 2019. Yaxiel Rodriguez (so, JP McCaskey) was the Jr High Champion over 200m in 2019. Kyle Rauchut (fr, Cedar Crest) was the Jr High Champion for 400m in 2019. Noah Keller (fr, Ephrata) was the leagues top freshman indoors over 400m.
Warwick Star Leah Graybill has graduated and is coming off of a record breaking indoor season for Shippensburg University. Her 2019 teammates, Meghan Quinn and Lily Palacio-Lewis are back for 2020 and are better than ever. Quinn won the indoor state title in the 60m while Palacio-Lewis finished 2nd. Quinn would also finish 3rd at the indoor state meet over 200m. She posted the league’s top indoor 400m performance this winter as well with her 59.45.
Hempfield’s Cahsia Page (sr), Conestoga Valley’s Jordyn Hock (sr), and Ephrata’s Ania Johnson (jr) will look to challenge the Warwick duo in the short sprints this spring.
Cedar Crest’s Shayla Bonzelet (sr) can run any event on the track. She has that kind of range. Her best event though is likely the 400m dash or 800m run. She is the top returning 400m runner in the league from last spring and has a PR of 57.14 from the 2019 State meet where she placed 6th. CV’s Hock, Hempfield’s Megan Grube (sr), and Cocalico’s Kaia Martz (jr) should also challenge for top spots at 400m. Warwick’s Cassidy Kline (sr) set a lifetime best in the 400m this past indoor season and could be a factor this spring as well.
Jane Livingston won everything hurdle related last season. Fortunately for the rest of the league she is now in the Big East competing for Villanova. Who will lead the way this season? Cahsia Page is the top returner in both the 100mH and 300mH events. She has great short sprint speed (finished 10th at indoor states in the 60m) to go along with her hurdling skill set. She also has the endurance strength to compete in longer events. She placed 32nd at the LL League XC Champs this past fall. Look for her to lead the way this season in the hurdles. Manheim Township’s Sydney Horn (sr) will challenge Page in the 100mH event. Olivia Sensenig (jr, Cocalico) and Emily Skidmore (jr, Warwick) could also challenge over 100mH. Both Page and Horn PR’d indoor in the 60mH. Skidmore and Kiamorey Clark (sr) of JP McCaskey will challenge Page for league gold in the 300mH. Both were sub-47s 300mH last season.
Newcomers to watch: Katie Urbine (fr, Solanco), Lyndi Wall (fr, Lampeter-Strasburg), and Anika Krasnai (fr, Manheim Township) all ranked in the top 8 of the league at 60m this winter. Krasnai also fell inside the top 8 indoors for 200m. Kamiya Wright (fr, JP McCaskey) ranked 7th in the league indoors in the 400m with a time of 1:02.25.
The LL League was loaded last season in distance events. As you can see, over half of the top 20 performers last season were seniors. Where are they now?
Evan Dorenkamp (Manheim Township) – state champion 1600m – Penn State Univ
Ian Miller (Manheim Township) – High Point University
Nate Grucelski (Conestoga Valley) – US Naval Academy
Connor Shields (Warwick) – Notre Dame
Justin Rittenhouse (Hempfield) – Univ of Miami
Logan Horst (Lanc Mennonite) – Messiah College
Andrew Foster (Ephrata) – Shippensburg University
Noah Martin (Warwick) – Bucknell University
Nate Shutter (Cedar Crest) – Kutztown University
Jake Barrett (Cedar Crest) – Eastern University
Of those returning, Tyler Shue (sr) of Ephrata leads the way in the 800m and 1600m runs. The PSU commit will look to defend his 2019 800m state and national title. He will also be one of the top 1600m runners in the state. He is the heavy favorite at leagues in 2020 in both events. Look for Shue to challenge the sub-1:50 800m barrier this season. Riley Klick (sr) of Lebanon nearly pulled the 800m upset last season at leagues. He took the 800m out hard and only Shue and Dorenkamp were able to pass him in the final 100m. Klick’s 800m PR is 1:57.81. Ryan Scicchitano (sr) had a strong indoor season and will look to improve on his 1:58 800m PR. He is committed to Shippensburg University. Hempfield’s Jack Mieszkalski (sr) had a great XC season and may be primed for a breakout season in anything between 800m-3200m. Keep an eye out for Warwick sophomore Jake Smith in the 800m and 1600m. He plays soccer in the fall, but transitions very smoothly to the track. Hempfield sophomore Owen Jackson lowered his indoor 800m PR to 2:02 this winter and should challenge the sub-2-min mark this spring.
Luke Hinegardner (so, Cedar Crest), Jeremy Bell (sr, Warwick), Tommy Bildheiser (jr, Cedar Crest), and Alex Miller (jr, JP McCaskey) are all closely matched over 1600m. Miller had a strong indoor season and lowered his mile PR to 4:30.65. Ryan Wolfe (so, Cedar Crest) also had a great indoor season and is one to keep an eye on this spring. Hinegardner is the top returnee in the 3200m run, leading 5 guys who broke the 10-min barrier last season. Joining Luke under 10-min were McCaskey’s Miller, Penn Manor’s Graham Thomas (jr), McCaskey’s Stephen Schousen (jr), and Manheim Township’s Tyler Stevens (so). Thomas had a breakout fall XC season where he placed 16th in the state. He will also factor into the 1600m finals this spring. Keep an eye on Hempfield’s Evan Eshleman (jr) who performed very well during XC. Cedar Crest’s Bildheiser, like Hempfield’s Mieszkalski, has great range and could make a run at the award stand in anything between 800m-3200m. Should be a fun group to watch over the next 2-3 seasons as the top competitors in the longer distance events are mostly juniors and sophomores.
Newcomers to watch: Aiden Hodge (fr, Hempfield), Joseph Fahrney (fr, Hempfield), Ben Blough (fr, JP McCaskey), Chris Titter (fr, Hempfield)
The LL League girls are bringing back a loaded field for 2020. Kate Dickow (Warwick, now at University of Richmond) and Cat Shontz (E’Town, now at Temple University) may be gone, but a ton of state medal contenders return, led by Cedar Crest’s Gwyneth Young (jr) and Elizabethtown’s Katie Locker (sr).
Young and Locker both earned state indoor medals, Young finishing 7th in the 3k and Locker placing 5th in the 800m. Young was part of an epic 3200m final at last year’s AAA state meet. She would finish 4th in 10:21.86, just off the state record time. Locker placed 5th in the 800m at last year’s PIAA AAA State meet, running a PR of 2:12.00. Both Young and Locker could also compete for state medals in the 1600m.
Ephrata’s Mary Campbell (sr) is another returning medal winner from the 2019 PIAA AAA State Championships. She placed 7th in the 1600m a year ago, running 5:02.44. Look for her to make a repeat trip to Shippensburg in that event. She has committed to run at Mount St. Mary’s next year.
We mentioned Shayla Bonzelet in the sprint section, but the Cedar Crest senior will also factor into the 800m competition. She ran 2:22 indoors (an indoor PR) and holds an outdoor PR of 2:18.28. Warwick’s Anna Martin (jr) and JP McCaskey’s Arielle Breuninger (jr) both have had breakout junior years to date. Martin improved each week during the XC season and wound up finishing 16th at the state XC championships. Breuninger placed 32nd in the state during XC season and then qualified for indoor states in the mile. She set a 1600m PR indoors this winter of 5:11.85. Both Martin and Breuninger will be a contenders in both the 1600m and 3200m this spring. Madeline Quinn (jr, Elizabethtown) is a returning state finalist in the 3200m. She was injured during the XC season, but rebounded nicely indoors. She too will be a threat over the 1600m and 3200m events.
Young, Locker, Campbell, Martin, Breuninger, and Quinn dominate the top returnee’s list in the 800m-3200m events.
Newcomers to watch: Milana Breuninger (fr, JP McCaskey), Aubrey Magagna (fr, Lampeter-Strasburg), Jillian Tobias (fr, Cedar Crest), Daria Neaves (fr, Solanco)
In the High Jump, Warwick’s Nate Good (jr) returns after a breakout sophomore season. He jumped a PR of 6-8.25 at the New Balance Outdoor National Championships to tie for 5th. He cleared 6-7 and placed 4th at the PIAA AAA state meet. Good is also an emerging pole vaulter. He significantly improved upon his Pole Vault PR this past winter, clearing 14-8. He’ll be a favorite in both events at leagues.
Other High Jump contenders include JP McCaskey’s Jewleus Benner (so) and Andre Aleong (sr) and Elizabethtown’s Derek Heisey (sr), all of whom who have cleared 6-2. Nick Achey (jr, Cedar Crest) cleared 6-0 last outdoor season and Darren Cammauf (so, Manheim Township) cleared 6-0 this past indoor season.
The horizontal jumps will be crowning new champions this season as Ezra Mellinger (now at Duke) and Will Rivers (now at West Chester) have moved onto college. Ephrata’s Sam Knowles (sr) uncorked a massive PR indoors when he leapt 22-1.5 in the long jump at Kutztown University. Penn Manor’s John Martinez (sr) was the only other LL Leaguer over 21-feet indoors. Hempfield sophomore Ryan Criste may break onto the scene this season after hitting a 20-11.7 ft PR indoors. Penn Manor could be looking to add significant team points in the Triple Jump as Kyle Murr (jr) and Martinez are the top 2 returnees in the event. Murr returns this season with a PR 2-feet further than everyone in the field.
Looking to challenge Good in the Pole Vault will be Annville-Cleona’s Neil Walhausen (sr) and Cedar Crest’s Zach Herzog (sr). Waldhausen cleared 13-6 indoors and has an outdoor PR of 14-0. Herzog has a PR both indoors and outdoors of 13-0.
Dylan Lambrecht (jr, Lampeter Strasburg) and Brock Gingrich (sr, Cocalico – committed to Delaware for football) give the LL League two legitimate state medal contenders in the shot put. Lambrecht hit a huge PR indoors when he threw 56-1.75 ft at the Indoor State Championships, earning 4th place. Gingrich has a PR of 54-8.25 from last season’s LL League Championship.
Lambrecht is the top returning discus thrower in the league. Based off of his indoor improvements in the shot, expect a big PR in the discus as well. He threw a 161-10 PR last season as a sophomore and ended the year 6th at the PIAA AAA State Championships. Cedar Crest’s TJ Moore (sr) and Eric Wawrzyniak (sr) and Lampeter-Strasburg’s Jacob Long (jr) will all look to surpass the 150-ft mark this spring.
Penn Manor will look to add more team points in the javelin, where senior Josh Gibson is the league’s top returnee. Gibson posted a 2019 PR throw of 186-1 at the District III meet where he placed 3rd overall. ELCO’s Ben Horst (sr) is the closest challenger in the javelin and owns a PR of 176-1.
Newcomers to watch: Chuckie Drain (fr, Cocalico – SP), Brad Weinhold (so, Cocalico – discus), Colin Daub (fr, ELCO – shot/discus), Julian Candelario-Toney (fr, Lebanon – jumps), Max Hudson (fr, Manheim Central – jumps), Tate Martin (fr, Hempfield – jumps)
Let’s start the girls field events by looking at the vertical jumps: Pole Vault and High Jump. In the Pole Vault, look for the reigning indoor and outdoor state champion to make a run at the PIAA State Record. Sydney Horn, Manheim Township’s decorated senior athlete, recently won the PTFCA Indoor state title after consistently clearing 13+ feet all winter. She recently posted video on her social media account showing her clearing 13-7 during a practice session indoors. The High Point University recruit will look to secure the 3rd state title in a row for the Horn family as sister Mackenzie (now a sophomore at High Point University) won the title in 2018. Two freshman and a sophomore seem well positioned to take the pole vaulting crown from Sydney in the years ahead after posting solid indoor seasons. Freshmen Carissa Bender (ELCO) and Katie Urbine (Solanco) made their presence felt during the indoor season, each clearing 10-8. Cedar Crest’s Molly Heintzelman (so) was close behind with her 10-6 clearance indoors. The future looks bright for LL League pole vaulting!
4 girls have cleared 5-2 in the High Jump entering the 2020 outdoor season with a number of others with 5-0 PRs. Alexis Moran (so, Lampeter-Strasburg) cleared 5-2 twice during the indoor season and could be primed for a big outdoor campaign. Returning in 2020 with 5-2 PRs include Lilian Hoke (sr, Lampeter-Strasburg), Allura Blake (sr, JP McCaskey), and Gianni Correa (jr, Lebanon).
Cocalico junior Olivia Sensenig returns in the Long Jump where she won the league title in 2019. Her PR in the event is 17-9.75. She will also contend for the Triple Jump title, likely against Warwick’s Juliette Delmotte (sr). Delmotte won the 2019 LL League title in the triple. She’s coming off a state medal winning performance indoors in the event and owns a PR of 38-0. Also factoring into the Triple Jump will be McCaskey’s Blake. In the long jump, keep an eye on Manheim Township freshman Anika Krasnai. Krasnai just missed qualifying for indoor states after jumping 17-6 at the PTFCA Indoor Classic.
Ahni-yah Parker (sr, JP McCaskey) is the top returner in the shot put. She placed 2nd at leagues in 2019 and will be looking for gold this season. She was a state qualifier in the event last year as well and has a PR of 38-8.5. Conestoga Valley’s Destiny Ellerbe (jr) is the closest challenger to Parker and owns a PR of 37-9.
Penn Manor’s Jayln Clow (jr) will be the favorite in the discus. She placed 3rd a year ago and went on to finish 9th in the state. She has a PR of 135-9. Makenzie Drane (sr, Annville-Cleona) and Carly Sedun (jr, Elizabethtown) are the next closest competitors, both with PRs over 110-feet.
The Javelin competition could be wide open this season with the top 5 returnees having PRs between 109ft – 119-ft. Lancaster Catholic senior Zaniah Banks is the top returning athlete in the event. She placed 3rd in the league last season after setting a new PR of 119-2. Marilyn Keernick (jr, Penn Manor), Drane, Olivia Anson (jr, Elizabethtown), and Brittany Nye (jr, Annville-Cleona) round out those top 5 performers from 2019.
Newcomers to watch: Anika Krasnai (fr, Manheim Twp – LJ/HJ), Carissa Bender (fr, ELCO), Katie Urbine (fr, Solanco)
Look for JP McCaskey to win the boys league championship title this season. They are loaded in the sprints and hurdles. Their sprint relays will be great – in fact, they may challenge the all-time LL League record in the 4x100m. They are going to score points in the jumps and they have a couple of mid-distance/distance athletes that will score points. Cedar Crest and Penn Manor could challenge.
For at least one more year its going to be tough to bet against the ladies from Warwick. They won the state title last year and finished runner-up indoors this past winter. They return a ton of sprint talent and similar to the McCaskey boys, will be tough to beat in the 4×100 and 4x400m relays. Those are big team points. Add to that individuals with big point potential in the hurdles, horizontal jumps, and distance events and you have another championship caliber team. Cedar Crest, Hempfield, Conestoga Valley, JP McCaskey, and Manheim Township could all be closely matched behind Warwick.