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EHS girls harriers are ready to run

The 2020 Emmaus girls cross country season almost didn’t happen and who knows what is in store. But one thing is for certain for head coach Kelly Bracetty: this summer has been one heck of a ride.

“I’ve had a roller coaster of emotions along this journey,” said Bracetty. “To see your athletes have their hearts broken during spring when track was cut short, it’s something you don’t want to ever see them go through again.”

When the coaching staff received notice to start summer practice, Bracetty was “on cloud nine.” But as we know, one day it’s one way, the next day another.

“One day we are planning as if we’d have a full season,” she said. “Then the next moment you hear new changes were made and you’re wondering if you’ll have a season at all.”

Bracetty’s two assistant coaches - Kami Reinhard and Page Woodbury - have made it possible to accommodate such a large group of athletes in a safe environment.

“It’s been difficult to prepare with a long-term goal in mind because you can really only take it one day, one week at a time,” Bracetty said.

As soon as Bracetty adjusts to new guidelines and policies, they change and it’s back to square one.

“My biggest concern is that the fall season will suddenly be cut short, despite the decrease of COVID cases in the Lehigh Valley,” she said.

The Green Hornet runners have proven resilient during their set back from spring. The fall’s schedule divides the East Penn Conference into three groups of six teams rather than one group of 18. Bracetty is hopeful Emmaus will have five regular season meets this season, although the EPC could limit the number of runners who could race in a meet.

Should the season transpire, Emmaus will benefit from veteran leadership. The Green Hornets’ top nine runners return and are in “the best shape I’ve ever seen them.”

That’s a frightening proposition for the rest of the EPC. The Emmaus girls program has dominated the conference in going undefeated for the last two consecutive seasons, winning the EPC and District 11 championships and finishing 12th at the states.

Emmaus didn’t have a senior in its district line up last season and all seven of those runners are back for the 2020 season.

Keerstin Augstin and Isabela Lees, who were the second and third place finishers at districts last season, return with a vision to capture gold. Hailey Reinhard (7th at districts) is back as Emmaus’ lead pack runner, with Ashleigh McNellis, who is much improved from last year, is also returning. Rounding out the Green Hornets’ top pack are essential runners Kera Reinhard (13th at districts), Clara Kennedy, Ashley Ryan and Madison Torretta.

“We’ve had improvement at all levels, along with a good group of freshmen, including Addison Shank and Caroline Shutts, who will continue to develop over the next few years,” said the coach. “This will help the future of our program.”

Her goals for 2020 are conservative and pragmatic.

“Our team goal is just get to the starting line,” said Bracetty. “I know it’s much different than past years where the focus is on another district championship, but with everything that’s happened this year, we’re thankful just to even be able to practice together every day.”

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Kirsten Augustin returns to the Emmaus cross country team after finishing second at districts last fall.
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Isabela Lees finished third in District 11 last season and is part of a large group of returning runners on the 2020 Emmaus girls cross country team.