Owen Kreeger, Noah Strausbaugh and twins Tayshawn and Dawuan Golden have had quite the week. So much so, that becoming frontrunners for YAIAA Division 2 title was among the less exciting topics to discuss Tuesday.

The members of the New Oxford 4x800 relay started their weekend by breaking the school record by a tenth of a second in their favorite event with a time of 8:07 at the Jim Taylor High School Classic at Susquehanna University on Saturday. The next day they found out that they qualified for the 125th running of the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, which will be held Saturday, April 26.

So, all but claiming a YA-2 title with an 88-61 victory over York Suburban a year after a nail-biter over Dallastown pushed them to the top of the YA-1 took a little creativity to move the needle.

“We proved today we can beat anyone, but we proved ourselves last year when a bunch of people were doubting us,” Strausbaugh said. “We want to compete at the highest level, get our PRs down and let people hear our voice.”

The Colonials won the 4x800 and 4x100 relays with ease. Tayshawn Golden came back in a big way for a win in the 800. Like last year’s division-separating meet, Strausbaugh earned a photo-finish victory, this time in the 400. Unlike last year, the Colonials led by more than 30 points with eight events to go, allowing them to put it in cruise control.

“I have a lot of confidence in our guys,” Dawuan Golden said. “Whether it’s jumping, pole vaulting, throwing, sprinting or distance. It’s nice to beat teams badly.”

The Colonials pulled their top athletes out of the final few races and were outscored 44-43 on the track. Five different athletes picked up victories in the field for a 45-17 separation in the throws and jumps for an easy victory. Abdul Janneh took the triple jump (42-3.5), Brennan Romanoff won the javelin (146-3), and three athletes set season bests in victory: Tim Uhler in the pole vault (11-3), Haiden Milhimes in the shot put (41-7.5) and Cameron Werick in the long jump (19-6).

“We’re not out of the woods, but proving we could perform against a perennial contender is good,” New Oxford head coach Jason Warner said. “It’s a different dynamic than last year, when it felt like we were trying to squeeze blood out of turnips to get every last point. We haven’t had to do that this year, but we’re scouting new competition and trying to put our best match-ups out there.”

RELAY REVELATIONS

Nothing that happened Tuesday could top the feeling the Colonials had in the 4x800 relay on Saturday. Strausbaugh got the race going in the right direction early, shaving two seconds off of his best start with a 2:06. From there, it was game on.

“As I got the handoff, I heard coach say something to Noah about it being a good leg,” Kreeger said. “He seemed pumped about it, so we all went out as fast as we could.”

Kreeger went second with a 2:04 leg. Then it was down to the ultra-competitive Golden twins. Dawuan clocked a 1:59 and Tayshawn topped that yet with a 1:58 finish. On Tuesday, Tayshawn followed up with an encore, scoring a season-best 2:02.9 in the open 800 for first.

Though he’s been the fleetest of foot lately, Tayshawn said Dawuan has won more races this season.

“We’re competitors. Sometimes he gets me, sometimes I get him,” Dawuan said. “It’s fun having a brother on the team. We use it as motivation.”

The Colonials will finish out a tough week with the Shippensburg Invitational this Saturday. Head coach Jason Warner hopes to see them drop another few seconds there.

Strausbaugh has spent the last two seasons focusing primarily on the 400, but has found himself putting more work into the longer races to help his relay team get where they want to be.

As Strausbaugh sees it, no one can make more improvement than he can in the relay.

“I’m not exactly where I want to be,” Strausbaugh said. “I want to get down in the 2:02 range. We were all blown away because we’re going to Penns, but I want to drop that time even more. We want to do well in districts and go to states.”

SENIOR CONTRIBUTIONS

With a strong junior class, the Colonials will be have a strong case to repeat as YAIAA-2 champs, should they close out this year’s crown. They will be losing some key contributors, however.

Brennan Romanoff has been a shoo-in for first in the javelin practically every meet. Austin Plotica has provided depth in the distance runs after an injury forced him to miss his junior year.

Connor Becker, the returning YAIAA champ in the 400, has shifted his focus to the sprints this season. He took second by a nose in the 100 (11.6), and took the same place in the 200 (23.1), both to York Suburban’s Brooks Coughenour. The Colonials’ 4x100, anchored by Becker, went unchallenged for a victory.

Becker felt fortunate not to have to do as much heavy lifting in his senior season. He’s put his focus on getting faster for next year as he prepares to play football for Stetson University.

“I’m working on my block starts,” he said. “Obviously I’m taller, so the guys who are a lot shorter have that lower center of mass and get out a little quicker.”

COMING FOR THE MUSTANGS

In a full calendar year, the New Oxford boys have defeated Dallastown for a YAIAA-1 crown, returning YAIAA-3 champ Bermudian Springs in the Adams County Invitational and now York Suburban.

In a perfect world, Warner would love to set up a twilight meet at the end of the season with undefeated South Western to see if they would have been able to defend their Division 1 title as well. The Colonials will have to wait until May 10 for the YAIAA Championships at Dallastown for their shot, though Warner acknowledged that the dynamics are a bit different in an invitational.

The boys agreed.

“This shows that wherever we go, we’re going to go out and try to win a meet,” said long and triple jumper Abdul Janneh. “Counties will definitely be more fun. We haven’t run and jumped against a lot of those guys since last year. We want to show them we’re still here.”

VOYAGE VACANCY

The New Oxford girls have struggled a bit more than expected this season, a result of a conflict in scheduling with an educational trip to Costa Rica. The Colonials are missing Ella Flickinger, Lilly Anderson, Leesey Kraus and Nattie Slusser among others.

A few key players have stuck around to hold down the fort, putting up strong performances in a 93.5-56.5 loss to York Suburban on Tuesday. Sarah Pfisterer took first in the 1600 (6:00.3) and 3200 (13:21.2), Eden Beichler won the 800 (2:32.6), Chloe Pennings won the triple jump (31-4.5), Jenna Coover won the discus (79-11) and Nadia Vargas won the pole vault (8-6).

This year’s most influential find has been Tuesday’s 400 winner, sophomore Jenica Crider (1:05). She joined the track and field team after being recruited by a few friends. At one time Crider played soccer, but this is her first taste of varsity success in high school. She put herself on the Adams County map with a 1:02.72 finish in her main event on Saturday.

“I want to try to get a minute flat if I can,” she said. “If not, I just want to PR each time. I’ve tried to keep my mind focused on my form. Pushing myself and keeping my form in the last 100 is the toughest.”

Warner said Crider is just scratching the surface.

“She has no clue how good she can be in this yet,” Warner said. “We’re letting her do her thing right now. It’ll get more serious for her next year, but if she can get to low 60s (seconds) and make districts this year, that would be a huge accomplishment.”

Beichler’s return from a series of knee surgeries a year ago has also been a point of inspiration for the Colonials. The junior ran a career-best 2:29.43 in the 800 on Saturday.

“She had a great ninth grade season and is finally getting back to her top times,” he said. “The fact she’s still here, I told her Saturday I couldn’t be more proud of her, having the courage to stick it out. A lesser person would’ve walked away.”

BOYS

3200 relay: 1. New Oxford (Vance Hagerman, Tayshawn Golden, Dawaun Golden, Noah Strausbaugh) 8:56.4; 110 hurdles: 1. Paskey (YS) 16.8 2. Luke Speelman (NO) 17.6, 3. Nate Clyde (NO) 17.6; 100: 1. Coughenour (YS) 11.6, 2. Connor Becker (NO) 11.6, 3. Josh little (NO) 11.7; 1600: 1. Raudensky (YS) 4:41.8, 2. Kreeger (NO) 4:45.9, 3. Austin Plotica (NO) 4:46.8; 400 relay: 1. New Oxford (Little, Abdul Janneh, Anthony Withrow, Becker) 50.4; 400: 1. Strausbaugh (NO) 53.0, 3. Antony Aguilar (NO) 54.4; 300 hurdles: 1. Paskey (YS) 41.6, 2. Clyde (NO) 43.4, 3. Speelman (NO) 44.4; 800: 1. T. Golden (NO) 2:02.9, 3. D. Golden (NO) 2:03.8; 3200: 1. Adams (YS) 10:15.6, 3. Lukas Raullerson (NO) 10:55.5; 1600 relay: 1. York Suburban 3:39.8; Long jump: 1. Cameron Werick (NO) 19-6, 2. Janneh (NO) 19-2; Triple jump: 1. Janneh (NO) 42-3.5, 2. Werick (NO) 38-11.5, 3. Ben Leese (NO) 36-3.5; High jump: 1. Feliciano (YS) 5-10, 3. Werick (NO) 5-4; Pole vault: 1. Tim Uhler (NO) 11-3, 2. Brennan Romanoff (NO) 8-0; Javelin: 1. Romanoff (NO) 146-3, 2. Haiden Milhimes (NO) 128-4, 3. Ladamian Williams (NO) 117-1; Shot put: 1. Milhimes (NO) 41-7.25, 3. Zander Stambaugh (NO) 35-4.5; Discus: 1. Fuhrman (YS) 119-5, 2. Stambaugh (NO) 110-5, 3. Luke Wheeler (NO) 108-9.

GIRLS

3200 relay: 1. York Suburban 11:11.7; 100 hurdles: 1. Kay (YS) 17.0, 2. Isabella Bankert (NO) 18.0, 3. Katie Cole (NO) 18.4; 100: 1. Smiley (YS) 13.4; 1600: 1. Sarah Phisterer (NO) 6:00.3; 400 relay: 1. York Suburban 53.6; 400: 1. Jenica Crider (NO) 1:05.0; 300 hurdles: 1. Kay (YS) 50.6, 2. Bankert (NO) 52.3; 800: 1. Eden Beichler (NO) 2:32.6, 3. Mckayla Vanleen (NO) 2:552.8; 200: 1. Smiley (YS) 28.2; 3200: 1. Phisterer (NO) 13:21.2 1600 relay: 1. York Suburban 4:32.5; Long jump: 1. Wand (YS) 15-2, 2. Chloe Pennings (NO) 14-6; Triple jump: 1. C. Pennings (NO) 31-4.5; High jump: 1. Wand (YS) 4-10, 2. Pennings (NO) 4-8; Pole vault: 1. Nadia Vargas (NO) 8-6, 2. Savannah Lawyer (NO) 8-0; Javelin: 1. Wand (YS) 110-11, 2. Shaely Stabler 86-5, 3. Autumn Malinowski (NO) 78-10; Shot put: 1. Hocker (YS) 28-10.75; Discus: 1. Jenna Coover (NO) 79-11.

Adam Michael can be reached at amichael@gburgtimes.com or follow him on Twitter:@GoodOleTwoNames

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