Hess brothers help Green Dragons claim crown

Lewisburg’s Jacob Hess runs on his way to a fifth-place overall finish Saturday at the PIAA Class 2A cross-country meet.

HERSHEY — Shortly after the PIAA Class 2A boys cross-country race ended Saturday, an announcement was made asking representatives from Lewisburg and York Suburban to report to the officials’ trailer.

York Suburban held the team lead at the two-mile mark, but the Green Dragons knew they were in the team title race.

“I didn’t think it seemed likely that we won,” Lewisburg coach Ron Hess said. “They called us first, so at that point, there was a glimmer of hope.”

They showed Hess and the York Suburban representative the team scores, and both teams finished with 82 points. Lewisburg then won based on the tiebreaker, as the Green Dragons’ sixth runner, Thomas Hess, finished before York Subarban’s sixth runner.

“I was overwhelmed,” coach Hess said. “We worked so hard for this. Last year we were fourth and we knew we weren’t losing anyone, but the teams who finished ahead of us were. ... From that very day this was our goal.

“There was a lot of pressure. I’m very proud of the boys and what they did.”

Coach Hess had to fill out some paperwork for the medal ceremony, and by the time he left the trailer, his team knew they were state champions.

“They were all hitting refresh on their phones,” Hess said. “I heard cheers as I excited the trailer. They were going absolutely wild. ... They were ecstatic.”

Jacob Hess finished fifth overall in 16:17 and was first among runners on competing teams to lead the Green Dragons. Both Jacob and Thomas are the coach’s sons.

“They were kind of bookends for the team,” coach Hess said. “It’s such an interesting thing to be a coach and a father. I try to make sure I play everything fair and not treat them any differently. But there is an extra level of getting to watch my children succeed. It was amazing.”

Between the two Hess brothers, Peter Lantz was fifth in the team race in 16:41, Calvin Bailey was 14th in 16:58, Evan Hart was 28th in 17:19 and Gianluca Perrone was 34th in 17:35.

Jacob Hess did not get off to the start he wanted.

“I may have not warmed up enough,” Hess said. “My blood wasn’t really pumping as much as it should.”

After falling behind, his teammates helped him find a pocket to run through and allowed him to gain some ground on the leaders.

“I basically have to travel twice the distance to make up that ground than most people have to just making it out,” Hess said. “It’s hard, because at that point you get a little more tired and a little more winded. It was hard to keep with the leaders when they made a move.”

Milton placed 12th as a team with 245 points. Tanner Walter, Brody Bender and Colton Loreman all ran in the 17:30s and placed in the 30s to lead the Black Panthers.

Warrior Run’s Damein Moser was 25th overall in 16:50, five spots ahead of Mount Carmel’s Krystof Lapotsky, who finished in 16:57.

Daily Item sports editor Kurt Ritzman contributed to this report.

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