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Jacob Hess wins individual gold as he helps Lewisburg win in District 4 Class AA race

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Lewisburg’s Jacob Hess crosses the finish line at the District 4 Class AA boys cross country championship race at Warrior Run on Thursday.

TURBOTVILLE — Calvin Bailey emerged from the Lewisburg team van shoeless, sloshing through the wet grass behind the parking lot of the Warrior Run AYSO soccer fields. The Lewisburg senior wasn’t concerned by the suddenly dropping temperatures on the steady rain which had turned into a downpour.

“We love this stuff,” Bailey said.

Clearly.

Bailey and his defending state champion Lewisburg teammates took five of the top 10 spots in the Class AA boys race at the District 4 Cross Country Championships on Thursday at Warrior Run High School, showing no ill effects of running final of four races on a quagmire of a course. Jacob Hess won his second consecutive individual district title and the Green Dragons captured the team title with a minuscule 29 points.

The Lewisburg boys earned a spot in next week’s state meet in Hershey where it will look to repeat at state champions. They’ll be joined at states in the Class AA race by Warrior Run’s Caden Dufrene (third place) and Milton’s Timothy Marvin (sixth place) and Brody Bender (seventh place), who all qualified.

In the Class A race, Hughesville ran away with the team title, putting five runners in the Top 11, including Hunter Foust, who won the individual title for the first time. South Williamsport’s Evan Laudenslager (second place) and Port Habalar (sixth place) also qualified for the Class A state meet.

“I’m extremely happy with how we ran,” Foust said of the Spartans, who topped returning district champ Wyalusing to take the team title. “I’m really proud of our team for pushing ourselves. As a team, we accomplished something great for Hughesville.”

Lewisburg and Hughesville were both heavy favorites in their respective classes coming into the day. Turns out they were favorites for a reason because nobody had an answer for the depth of either the Spartans or the Green Dragons. Hess threw down a pace nobody in the Class AA field could match.

His winning time of 16 minutes, 17 seconds was actually his second-slowest run of the season. But on a day with temperatures in the 40s and enough rain to make people in Seattle cringe, times weren’t as important as moving through to next week’s PIAA meet in Hershey. The treacherous footing along the course forced Hess and his teammates to re-think their strategy of creating better angles around corners. Instead, they opted for lines which gave them the best footing.

Knowing how difficult the conditions were, Hess was actually pretty happy with his time.

“It clearly wasn’t the fastest time you were going to get, but it was low enough that you could see the time in relation to other times you’ve run figure out whether you had a good or bad day,” Hess said. “I knew it was going to be slower, but the course itself was actually really fast. So it lent itself, even with the weather not being great, to still being a fast course.”

Bailey, who was the only senior to score points for the Green Dragons yesterday, said the rest of the team has raised its level of running to keep up with the pace Hess has set in the last two years. Hes finished fifth at last year’s state meet and seventh as a freshman in 2018. And in the last two years, Lewisburg has become one of the most dominant cross country teams in the whole state.

“We have to hold ourselves to the same standards Jacob holds himself to,” said Bailey, who finished fourth yesterday. “We have to be up there every single day trying to win every single race. We have to build off him and give him support and let him know we’re there for him when he needs it.”

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