Fast times have been hard to come by in area cross country meets this year. It is still early, with many big meets yet to come, but Tuesday’s race at New Oxford showed some potential brilliance as the season moves forward.
New Oxford hosted West York and Fairfield, but the big story was the runner from Hanover. Hanover has never had a cross country program, but this year, track and field distance standout Matthew Nawn is making history as the first boy in recent history to run cross country. The Nighthawks do not have an official team, but Nawn’s distance coach in track happens to be New Oxford’s assistant coach in cross country.
Sarah Wiles, daughter of Susquehannock football coach Steve Wiles and granddaughter of legendary Gettysburg and Delone basketball coach Jim Dooley, convinced Nawn that to be great as a distance runner in track, you should be a cross country runner. She invited him to train with the New Oxford boys, and got approval for him to compete as a representative of Hanover High School, even though the Hawks do not have an official cross country team. It has worked out beautifully thus far for everyone.
Nawn took off from the gun on Tuesday, and had built a 40 second lead by the mile mark (5:12). He increased his lead to 50 seconds by two miles, and finished the 5,000 meter (3.1 miles) course in 16:43, 1:09 ahead of second place finisher Neal Price of New Oxford. Price led a Colonial sweep of the team competition, as New Oxford defeated West York 27-29, and Fairfield 26-30. West York beat Fairfield 26-30.
In track last spring, Nawn ran 4:37.3, seven seconds off the school’s 1600 meter record, and the general feeling was that cross country could provide the extra strength and endurance necessary to set a new record. He also has played on the golf team since his freshman year, and did not want to give that up to run cross country. So, he runs with the New Oxford cross country team a couple of days a week and hits the links a couple of days a week to stay sharp for the Hawks’ golf team.
“Coach Wiles said that if I wanted to run cross country, I could train with the New Oxford runners,” Nawn said. “It is a little bit of the coach’s fault, and having the motivation to break the school mile record is the other part. Every race this year, I have been running behind other guys, and then today I ran out in front. I am always like that in track, but I have not done that in cross country before today. My mentality in track has been, go out hard and make them chase you. I know I will survive at my pace, and I challenge them to pass me.”
The Ox had their work cut out for them against two similarly talented teams in Fairfield and West York. To win would require every runner, from one to seven, to challenge themselves to do their best. With such close final scores, the Colonials showed that they are competitive and are gelling as a team.
“I am very happy with our performance,” said New Oxford head coach Eva Karkuff. “We lost Vance Hagerman and Lukas Raullerson from last year, and they were our frontrunners, so over the winter we have been working hard with the boys to try to fill those shoes.”
At the mile mark, Nawn was unchallenged way out front, but behind him followed Price and Fairfield’s Gabe Schubring. The Colonials led West York 26-31 at the mile, but were tied with Fairfield at 28-28. David Moore moved up significantly in the second mile to give the Ox a lead over the Knights that they would not relinquish. The real difference in the meet was the solid pack of New Oxford’s 3-4-5 runners as they handled their respective competitors from the other teams.
“We talked about it before the race, that this race would be very tight all the way.” Karkuff said. “There are races that we know are not going to be like that, but it was fun, for their only home meet, that we would have a competitive race. We didn’t think about times at all today, we just went out and raced.”
Price ran a fine race for New Oxford, placing second in 17:52, while Fairfield’s Schubring grabbed fourth place in 18:44.
In the girls’ race, New Oxford swept the day as West York and Fairfield could not field complete teams. Despite not having a team to run with this year, Fairfield’s Honey Strosnider showed she is one of the best distance runners in the area with a solid and dominating victory. Her winning time of 21:20 was nearly a minute ahead of second-place runner Anya Rosenbach of New Oxford.
Strosnider had a fine season last year in her first year of cross country, but as the season ran on, she found that she was anemic. Her low iron count led to her dropping out of the district meet. She also plays on the soccer team at Fairfield, and she was burning the candle at both ends trying to be competitive in two sports. After an amazing rookie season in cross country, it ended as she passed out at districts.
Now that iron supplements and an improved diet have revived her, she is running the best she ever has, and showed it with her dominating performance on Tuesday. However, she does much of her distance training on her own after soccer practice.
“It’s a little different this year,” Strosnider said of being the only girl runner. “This works with soccer a lot better. I go to soccer practice every day, and then I run after by myself. I do my own workouts. I can fit it all in my own schedule. I feel a lot better this year having had that year of experience. Every course was something new. I like having a better idea what I am doing.”
Strosnider placed second in the Class A race at the Ben Bloser Invitational at Big Spring High School this past Saturday, and that would have been in the top 30 in the 3A race.
She took charge on Tuesday right from the start, although New Oxford freshman Rosenbach was on her tail. At about 700 meters, Rosenbach had pulled up just two seconds behind Strosnider, but it was false hope on the part of the Colonial. At the mile mark, Strosnider went through at 6:34, 12 seconds clear of her pursuer. At two miles, she had built her lead to 48 seconds and was on her way to running a winning time of 21:20, 54 seconds clear of Rosenbach.
“Anya plays tennis as well, and she is very competitive,” coach Karkuff said. “She is only a freshman, and that competitive nature is what carries her through. She is the star of the tennis team, and she gets to come out here and run well, and we are thankful to have her on the team.”
Not only is she, at 14 years old, the star of the Colonials’ tennis team, Rosenbach is one of the best tennis players in the area. Karkuff encouraged her to run cross country to boost her endurance, and her winsome personality and competitive spirit have made her a natural as a runner.
The biggest surprise for New Oxford however, was the race run by Katelyn Dicken. The first-year runner has improved dramatically in her first four races, and she ran a super final mile on Tuesday to pass two West York girls and place third overall.
Big things lie ahead for the two rookies.
“I was very impressed with Katelyn as well,” Karkuff said. “This is her first time running cross country, and she is just learning the sport, and she is going to be good. She has that competitive spirit. Everyone on both teams ran much better today than they have been, so I am very happy.”
New Oxford will next compete next Tuesday at Central York, while Fairfield will travel to Bermudian Springs.
Team: New Oxford d. West York 15-50, New Oxford d. Fairfield 15-50.
Individual: 1.Honey Strosnider (F) 21:20, 2.Anya Rosenbach (NO) 22:14, 3.Katelyn Dicken (NO) 22:42, 4.Makayla Appler (WY) 22:50, 5.Olivia Grimes (WY) 23:12, 6.Erin Deak (NO) 24:28, 7.Sydney Kint (NO) 25:46, 8.Anna Palmquist (WY) 25:55, 9.Chloe Trawinski (NO) 28:49, 10.Briana Reichart (NO) 29:10, 11.Kassandra Reichart (NO) 33:50.
Team: New Oxford d. West York 27-29, New Oxford d. Fairfield 26-30, West York d. Fairfield 26-29.
Individual: 1.Matthew Nawn (Hanover) 16:43, 2.Neal Price (NO) 17:52, 3.Steven Miller (WY) 18:05, 4.Gabe Schubring (F) 18:44, 5.David Moore (NO) 18:45, 6.Kyle Miller (WY) 19:28, 7.Dan Weaver (WY) 19:29, 8.Cameron Wiles (F) 19:39, 9.Joseph Salazar (NO) 19:48, 10.Matthew Turner (F) 19:52.
New Oxford: 2.Neal Price 17:52, 5.David Moore 18:45, 9.Joseph Salazar 19:48, 13.Christian Richter 20:06, 14.Tyler Kelican 20:18, 15.Cameron Miller 20:51, 18.Julian Garcia 21:43.
Fairfield: 4.Gabe Schubring 18:44, 8.Cameron Wiles 19:39, 10.Matthew Turner 19:52, 11.Vincent Malpica 19:55, 16.Matthias Sacco 21:21.