BY JEFF FALK
Riding the team bus to yesterday’s County meet, Katie Dembrowski’s head was filled with hopes and dreams of a team championship for her Palmyra thinclads. She really didn’t give too much thought to winning the event’s Outstanding Athlete.
When the day was out, it was difficult to distinguish to between Dembrowski’s cake and icing. Suffice to say that she tasted them both.
Dembrowski’s performance in the middle distance events propelled the Cougar girls to victory at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships on Saturday. Outstanding Athlete or team Most Valuable Player? The humble Dembrowski didn’t really feel comfortable with either individual title.
Dembrowski’s Cougars bested Cedar Crest for the team title by 43 points, 176-133. Annville-Cleona was third, Elco was fourth, Lebanon fifth and Northern Lebanon sixth.
“Us winning the championship was more important to me, because it’s our team,” said Dembrowski, who also competes in basketball and field hockey for the Cougars. “Yeah, this is important, but I’d rather have our team do well. Actually, I wasn’t expecting it at all. The weather stayed good and we had a good day.
“Everyone stepped up and we did really well,” Dembrowski added. “We were having a good regular season, so this wasn’t unexpected. It’s exciting. Really exciting.”
The 3200-meter relay foursome of Olivia Farabaugh, Devon Strynkowski and Maria Tukis that Dembrowski anchored set a new Lebanon County record. She also teamed with Farabaugh, Tukis and Haley Bovis in the 400-meter race.
“Driving over here I was wondering how it was going to go,” said Dembrowski. “I got really nervous, but we try to stay positive and do our best.
“I like the 800 a lot,” continued Dembrowski. “I’d like to make it to districts in it and do well there.”
“She just has unlimited potential,” said Byrd of Dembrowski. “The things she’s doing as a freshman are incredible. She’s just going to get faster. She’s a hard worker and a great kid.”
Dembrowski received plenty of support from her teammates, emotionally, on the track and in the field. Palmyra jumper Rachel Kline captured the triple and high, thrower Lindsay Rogers claimed the discus, Tukis won the 400-meter dash, Laura Duquette garnered the 1600 and Miranda Salvo was victorious in the 3200.
“For the girls, our points pretty much came from everywhere,” said Byrd. “We were dominant in the 800, 1600 and 3200. Rachel Kline winning the high jump and triple jump was big. My sprinters did well. It was a really good team effort. I think the only place we didn’t score points was the javelin.
“Our distance runners are awesome,” Byrd added. “They work hard and they’re such a tight-knit group. We have another team that we could put out there.”
Perhaps the only female who could’ve given Dembrowski a run for her Outstanding Athlete award were Kline or Cedar Crest’s Sierra Wheat, who finished first in the javelin and 200-meter dash. Wheat was also an active participant on the Falcons’ victorious 400-meter relay squad that also included Christina Visconti, Maddi Smith and Rebecca Poff.
Elco’s Lexi Wike was dubbed Lebanon County’s Fastest Female by edging Kendall Kreider of Palmyra in the 100-meter dash, while fellow Raider Margo Keller hit the tape first in the 300 hurdles. Elco’s Kathleen Gilbertson won the long jump by over a foot.
The Annville-Cleona Little Dutchmen were well represented by Tricia Light, who won the 100 high hurdles, and Avree Wright, who grabbed the shot put. With her trimph in the pole vault, Erin Winters was the lone Lebanon High athlete to strike gold.
“The girls always respond to the challenge,” said Byrd. “Last year we lost to Cedar Crest by half of a point. We expected to come in here and do well. Cedar Crest is such a class act, both the boys and girls. We’re really happy with our performances.”