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Rivals Yeatts, Wertner take each other to the limit

Cross Country

Cross Country

October 06, 2005|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

Rivals Jed Yeatts of James Buchanan and Tim Wertner of Greencastle-Antrim arguably are the top two runners on the Tri-State boys cross country scene this fall.

Much like they were on the track last spring, when Yeatts ran an area-leading time of 9:46.12 for 3,200 meters, registering just ahead of Wertner's best time of 9:47.95.

In their three races against each other so far this season, their combined separation has been 11 seconds, with Yeatts leading the showdowns, 2-1.

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Their rivalry almost could be mistaken as that of siblings, or even cousins, as their coaches - JB's Daryl Hunsberger and Greencastle's Rich Secrest - are.

"Rich and I are cousins. We used to run together every summer and we ran together in school," Hunsberger said. "We ran 1-2 at James Buchanan in 1987, back and forth. We were very much friends, but very much competitors. We were good for each other."

Both coaches agree that Yeatts, a senior, and Wertner, a junior, have helped each other progress as well.

"The boys definitely look forward to the competition," Hunsberger said. "Jed thrives on it and I think Tim thrives on it, and whenever they're together, they run their very best."

In their last matchup - a tri-meet on JB's 3.1-mile course Sept. 27 - Yeatts passed Wertner with 30 yards left and held on for the victory in 16:26. Wertner was second in 16:27. Third place was nowhere in sight.

"It was just like a chess match," Hunsberger said. "Both kids were exhausted."

Three days earlier, they competed in the Carlisle Invitational's prestigious Reebok Challenge. Wertner placed 11th on the 5K course in 16:19. Yeatts faded late and finished 20th in 16:32.

At the season-opening Enos Yeager Invitational at Chambersburg, Yeatts edged Wertner by a second for the overall title.

"At Enos Yeager, Daryl said, 'It's going to be a blood bath this year.' And I said, 'Yeah, it's going to be exciting,'" Secrest said. "Every time they step on the line, you know it's going to be a gut race."

They have three meetings left this season - the conference, district and state championships.

Wertner prepares for the battles every workout.

"Every time he goes out there, I say picture Yeatts or so-and-so and he visualizes it," Secrest said. "He's a very head-strong kid. He doesn't dwell on the previous race. He always considers himself the person to beat."

Beating him is no easy feat, as Yeatts knows.

"It's always going to take that 100 percent effort to beat (Wertner)," Hunsberger said. "It's one of those matchups that will reign forever, maybe even when they go off to college."

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